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A closeup photo of ornaments on a tree celebrating Christmas in the Smoky Mountains.

5 Exciting Events Celebrating Christmas in the Smoky Mountains

There is nothing quite like Christmas in the Smoky Mountains! Throughout the holiday season, Sevier County is transformed into a winter wonderland with special decorations and plenty of good cheer. If you’re going to be visiting the Smokies during the most wonderful time of the year, you don’t want to miss these yuletide events:

1. Christmas Tree Lighting at The Island with Paula Deen

Santa Claus isn’t coming to town just yet…but a very special guest will be visiting Pigeon Forge: Paula Deen! Everyone’s favorite Southern chef extraordinaire will be on hand to ring in the official start of the Christmas season with The Island’s Tree Lighting Celebration. Join Paula at 6 p.m. on November 28th to watch The Island’s enormous Christmas tree come to life with some truly spectacular decorations.

Admission is free and there will be live entertainment, so there is no reason to miss out on this exciting new holiday tradition! While you’re at The Island, be sure to check out Paula Deen’s Restaurant in Pigeon Forge – it’s the perfect place to have dinner before the Christmas tree lighting celebration.

2. Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts ShowSanta Claus carved out of wood.

Still need to start your Christmas shopping? Don’t panic! You are sure to find gifts for everyone on your list at the Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show. All of the best artists and artisans in the Gatlinburg area will be on hand to sell their unique handcrafted items. Some of the great gifts you’ll find at the Crafts Show include:

  • Jewelry
  • Paintings
  • Pottery
  • Quilts
  • Baskets
  • Stuffed bears
  • Dulcimers
  • Leather vests
  • Handmade brooms

The Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show will be at the Gatlinburg Convention Center from November 30 – December 6.

3. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival

You haven’t truly experienced Christmas in the Smoky Mountains until you’ve visited Dollywood during the holiday season! From November 7 through January 3, the theme park celebrates its annual Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival. Guests will have the chance to visit Santa’s Workshop, see the dazzling Parade of Lights, and meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and all of his friends from the classic Christmas special.

Dollywood will also host a number of seasonal musical performances, including the bluegrass show Appalachian Christmas and the gospel show Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs. For a complete guide to all of the fun, check out our in-depth blog about the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival at Dollywood.

A marching band with Santa hats performing at the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in Gatlinburg.4. Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

The city of Gatlinburg’s Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade is guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit! With dozens of floats, balloons, marching bands, and more, this enormous parade is one of the most beloved Smoky Mountain traditions. The festivities will kick off at 7:30 p.m on December 4 along the downtown Gatlinburg Parkway. Admission is free, but bleacher seating is available for $20 and can be purchased here.

5. Breakfast or Brunch with Santa at The Old Mill

If your children still need to put in a special request to Santa Claus, they’ll have their chance this December 5! Gather up the whole family and come to The Old Mill Pottery House Cafe & Grille for breakfast or brunch with Jolly Old Saint Nick. Breakfast will be served from 8:15 – 9:30 a.m. and brunch from 10:00 – 11:15 a.m. After you eat, don’t forget to stop by the Kid’s Craft Tent from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 865-406-6558. To see the menus for breakfast and brunch.

For even more ways to celebrate Christmas in the Smoky Mountains, check out our calendar of all the upcoming Smoky Mountain Events!