Choosing what time of the year to visit Gatlinburg can be a difficult decision when there are so many entertaining things to do: hiking, shopping, whitewater rafting and canoeing are popular ways to see and get to know this quaint mountain town. What newcomers may not be aware of are the rich annual traditions and festivals that the locals look forward to every year; no matter the season, there is an event will interest your family and even have you returning again year after year. The following dates may change slightly each year so call the Tourist Information Center for any changes before planning your trip.
Smoky Mountain Spring Fest
March 11th- June 7th
he ultimate celebration of springtime, join in three month long festivities. Stroll down Gatlinburg’s main street to witness baskets overflowing with bougainvillea's, wave petunias, tulips and mandevillas delicately scenting the air with their natural fragrances. Various festivals and parties make this season a popular favorite among first time and returning visitors.
Holly and Shamrock Parade and Celebrate Santa
Nowhere else will you see Santa's, Mrs. Clauses, reindeer and elves on the same day as St. Patrick being showcased at the Gatlinburg Convention Center along with costumes from various Christmas celebrations around the world. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and your beloved’s hand and head to main street to join in the fun!
Easter Arts and Crafts Show
March 31st-April 3rd
Come to the Gatlinburg Convention Center for this event hosted by the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community; browse the stalls that offer some of the finest handcrafted goods and wares made locally by the artists who carefully craft them.
One of the more beautiful traditions in the area, ride the sky lift up to Ober Gatlinburg for the Annual Easter Sunrise Service that begins at 6:30 AM. Afterwards come have a bite to eat at the Ober Gatlinburg Restaurant buffet from 7 AM-10:30 AM and chat with the locals and other out-of-towners on this special day.
Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage & Greener Living Expo
April 21st- April 25th
Join the knowledgeable folks from the University of Tennessee Botany Department, Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Gatlinburg Department of Tourism on one of over 150 hikes held during the five day event. Classroom events, exhibitions and demonstrations are also held at this time.
Rib fest and Wings
Hope you brought your appetite because you will need a big one for this festival celebrating the best barbeque that Gatlinburg has to offer. Set outdoors, you can easily stroll around from booth to booth sampling the different flavors and interpretations of this great American favorite pastime, grilling out on the BBQ. Dance to live music and help the judges decide who this year’s favorite chef is.
Scottish Festival and Games
Pull on your kilt and join in the fun of the Scottish games. Everything from bagpipes and haggis hurling to Highland athletics and border collie demonstrations there is something to please everyone in your family. Food, drinks and more are part of the entertainment that keeps the locals coming year after year.
Fine Arts Festival
Artists from near and far come annually for this fun-filled event that mom, dad and even the kids can enjoy. Local restaurants serve up tons of delicious food while live music rounds out a perfect way to kick off spring and learn more about Gatlinburg’s culture.
Smoky Mountains Tunes and Tales
June 11th- August 7th
What could be better than walking down the main street of Gatlinburg with family and friends to the sweet tunes of the Smoky Mountains? From 5 PM-10 PM listen to local musicians sing various songs and tell tales of Gatlinburg’s rich history.
Midnight Independence Day Parade
Come march in the only midnight Independence Day parade; a local favorite that involves lots of dancing, laughing and good times enjoyed by all.
River Raft Regatta
Don’t go to sleep just yet! Bring your rafts and inner tubes to Little Pigeon River at noon to take a leisurely float down the river; a great way to spend time with your family while enjoying the beautiful natural sights that make Gatlinburg a spectacular place to vacation.
Gatlinburg Craftsmen Fair
With over 200 booths manned by artisans from in and around the Gatlinburg area, there is a piece of art that is waiting to make its statement in your home. Live demonstrations and workshops available during the week; doors open 10 AM-6 PM, Sunday 10 AM-5 PM at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. $6.00 admission.
“Stand Here” Fireworks Finale
Who doesn’t love a free event? Finish up a day of fun in the sun with friends both old and new at the fireworks finale that will blaze the sky with various colors and shapes.
Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival
September 1st-October 31st
Revel in the crisp, cool weather that is still warm enough to play around in yet just cold enough to start digging out those stored sweaters. Bring your camera to capture the leaves changing color, jump on a merry hayride, take in a craft show or just go for a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There will be tons of events during this season for adults and children to enjoy.
Taste of Autumn
Held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, this annual event is a fundraiser for the United Way of Sevier County put on by the best restaurants that the area has to offer. Tease your palate with tantalizing dishes, listen to great music and visit the cash bar for a great cause.
Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament
Grab your fishing poles and try out your skills against fellow trout fishermen; women and children have categories to enter as well during this two day fun-filled tournament. With many categories to choose from pick one or a few to enter during this year’s activities.
Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cook-off
Warm up on a chilly winter night with a steaming hot bowl of chili to help the judges decide who the master chili chef is, all while admiring 3 million lights that will be turned on especially for the occasion. Bring the whole gang down from 5 PM-8 PM for fireworks, dancing Marvelettes and all of the chili you can handle!
Veteran’s Day Celebration
Although we support them every day, Gatlinburg holds a special event for its veterans each year at Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza with musical tributes that both move and honor those who have fallen and continue to fight valiantly for our country.
Festival of Trees
Trees decorated by Gatlinburg schools and businesses are on display for all to admire are a festive way to kick off the holiday season. Children and adults alike will love the lights, sparkles and other decorations that make the trees so memorable.
Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community Holiday Arts & Crafts Show
November 23rd-30th ; December 1st-5th
Not sure what to get for your family and friends this holiday season? A handcrafted good from the Great Smoky Mountains region is both tasteful and unique; you can be certain that your one-of-a-kind gift will be received happily and proudly displayed for years to come. Held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, no admission fee.
Gatlinburg Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
Grab your warm coat and mittens to take in this parade sponsored by the City of Gatlinburg and Land O’Lakes Half-and-Half. You will want to come early as the streets quickly fill up before the 7:30 PM starting time. Love marching bands and giant balloons? You will not want to miss this fun-filled event!
New Year’s Eve Ball Drop & Fireworks
Who says you need to go all the way to New York City to see a ball drop on New Year’s Eve? Live it up mountain-style on the most festive night of the year with those you hold dear and all of your new friends from Gatlinburg and beyond; gather at the Space Needle on Historic Nature Trail Road after the fireworks show and street party on the Parkway.