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Home » Blog » Events Calendar » 9 Fun Ways to Celebrate Smoky Mountain Winterfest 2020 [Plus Winterfest Kickoff Information]
winter in the Smoky Mountains

9 Fun Ways to Celebrate Smoky Mountain Winterfest 2020 [Plus Winterfest Kickoff Information]

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Winter is one of our favorite seasons! Why? It is the one time of year that combines two of our favorite things: Christmas and the Smoky Mountains!

There are so many great Smoky Mountain Winterfest 2020 events, it can be hard to keep track of everything going on. Below is a list of a few events that we are most looking forward to celebrating this year.

1. Gatlinburg’s Chili Cookoff

bowls of chiliTo kick off Winterfest in Gatlinburg, the city is holding its popular Chili Cookoff! The Chili Cookoff takes place on Thursday, November 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Gatlinburg. During this annual event, local restaurants offer unique, homemade chili samples, and you’ll get to vote on which chili you like the best! There will also be live entertainment by an Eagles tribute band, On The Border. City leaders will perform an official lighting ceremony, during which millions of holiday lights will light up Gatlinburg. The event will take place at the Anakeesta Plaza at 576 Parkway.

New in 2020, tickets are required to enter, and there is a touchless point of entry, hand-washing stations throughout the festival, open spacing, and facial coverings are required for entry.

2. Sevierville Winterfest

Though Sevierville does not hold a kick-off event for Winterfest, the lights will shine bright beginning on November 13!  Bring all of your family and friends to Sevierville to take in the millions of twinkling lights and get into the holiday spirit!

3. Pigeon Forge Winterfest

Pigeon Forge’s Winterfest begins on November 13 when over 5 million holiday lights are turned on and will illuminate the area throughout the winter season. The stunning lights will remain on until February 15. Be sure to take part in the Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights along the Pigeon Forge Parkway! A drive down the Parkway will allow you to see the 12 Days of Christmas in lights.

4. Christmas Fun at The Island 

The Island in Pigeon Forge at WinterfestThe Island in Pigeon Forge is home to some of the very best holiday decorations in the Smokies! This popular shopping and entertainment complex is filled with Christmas cheer, featuring 500,000 lights, 40,000 ornaments, 5,000 feet of garland, and three spectacular Christmas trees. At 40 feet tall, The Island’s largest tree is truly something to behold. The Island is also one of the best places to go Christmas shopping in Pigeon Forge, so be sure to bring your Christmas list! Winterfest at The Island begins Nov. 13 and runs through Dec. 30.

5. Lights Over Gatlinburg

Lights Over Gatlinburg kicks off the same day as Smoky Mountain Winterfest! On November 13, the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is illuminated with over 40,000 lights, including a 300-foot tunnel of lights on the SkyBridge and a 30-foot Christmas tree with lights animated to music! This special event is included for free with your ticket to the SkyLift Park, and it lasts from Nov. 13 through Jan. 31.

6. Smoky Mountain Winterfest’s Festival of Trees

It is hard to have a holiday celebration without a Christmas tree or two. Help get your family into the seasonal spirit by taking them out to this year’s Festival of Trees event at the W.L. Mills Conference Center.

Running from November 25 – 29, this Smoky Mountain Winterfest tradition showcases hundreds of festive trees, each with its own theme. All proceeds from this event benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains.

7. Fantasy of Lights Christmas ParadeA marching band at the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in Gatlinburg.

The Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade is one of the most popular Gatlinburg parades throughout the year. With over 100 entries, a dozen marching bands from across the region, and larger-than-life balloons, there is a ton of fun just waiting to be had at this winter event.

The parade is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. on December 4. The parade route will run from Baskins Creek Bypass to Traffic Light #10 on the Parkway. Be sure to arrive early! Parade organizers are expecting crowds of more than 60,000 spectators.

8. Enchanted Winter at Anakeesta

Enchanted Winter at Anakeesta kicks off on Nov. 23. Visitors will be able to enjoy seasonal decor and twinkling lights throughout the 70-acre park. Stroll through Firefly Village and the Vista Gardens to take in the stunning scenery, climb to the top of the AnaVista Tower for snow-capped mountain views, or grab a cup of hot chocolate and relax by the fire. Santa also lands his sleigh on Anakeesta mountain on select days in November and December!

Showstreet Theater during Christmas at Dollywood9. Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood

As part of the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival at Dollywood, visitors can enjoy over 5 million twinkling lights, gorgeous holiday decorations, heart-warming holiday shows, and even a visit with Santa Claus himself! The festival is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit with Christmas trees, Christmas music, Christmas food and more.

If you would like more information on these or any other upcoming things to do during the Smoky Mountain Winterfest 2020 season, be sure to check out all of our Smoky Mountain Events!