The mountainous resort city of Gatlinburg in Tennessee is full of excitement. It is hosting its Gatlinburg Christmas Parade on Friday, December 7, 2012. This popular parade is also known as the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade and takes place in downtown Gatlinburg. The parade is held annually and this year will take it to the 37th mark. This parade is full of excitement and attracts extremely large crowds in the upper tens of thousands, this year the parade is expecting an impressively large turnout of 80,000 attendees.
The parade is open to all and there admission is free. The parade is full of life with over 100 parade entries including beautifully lighted floats; Santa Claus’s all around who hand out small treats, if you are able to make it to the Riverbend Mall located at Traffic Light No. 3 in between 6:00 and 7:00 in the evening, a special autograph party is being held which will include a very special Santa Claus and his little elves; many marching bands from throughout the state as well as from other states including North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama; equestrian units; a display of gigantic helium balloons; and much more. The parade will block sidewalks and balconies as it travels down its route and offers the huge turnout of spectators to enjoy and be amazed by the illuminating glow of the lights.
The parade begins promptly at 7:30 in the evening and will last approximately 1 1/2 hours, thereby ending around 9:00 p.m. The starting point of the parade will be at Traffic Light #1A located at Hwy 321 and the finishing point will be at Traffic Light #10 located on the Parkway and Ski Mountain Road. For out of town visitors who are not staying in the city, it is strongly advised that you arrive early, as lines are known to go all the way down the strip even hours prior to the start of the parade.
The best place to view the parade is in the downtown area along the strip or from a balcony if you are staying in a hotel located downtown with a balcony. In addition, there are a limited number of seats on the bleachers located at the front of the parking garage which you will find on Traffic Light No. 3. All of these options will give you a great view and will allow you to take stunning pictures.
The Gatlinburg Christmas Parade is known to consistently deliver and to draw large crowds. It has been given high recognition by the International Festival and Events Association and is considered a first class parade. It is also among the Top 20 events ranked by the Southeast Tourism Society. This year, the parade was appropriated funds in the sum of $1.6 million for the displays as well as to fully convert to energy efficient light emitting diode bulbs.