By Leif Palmer
Posted on April 7, 2020
It looks like spring may not be the best time to travel to the Great Smoky Mountains, but chances are looking good that life may be back to normal in time for the summer vacation season. So while lots of you are staying put at home for the time being, consider this a great time to look ahead and dream of things to come a few months down the road. This week, we'll highlight five events scheduled to take place in the Smokies this summer. You may even want to do some early planning, if for no other reason than to do something that feels normal.
May 8 through June 14
For its 35th anniversary, Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge is introducing a brand-new seasonal festival, featuring hundreds of flower installations throughout the park and lots of new seasonal foods for visitors to enjoy.
This has the distinction of being the first Independence Day parade to take place in the United States each year. That's because it kicks off at midnight on the 4th (the evening of July 3). For 45 years, this mile-long parade has been weaving its way through the streets of downtown Gatlinburg, featuring floats, marching bands, local celebrities and more. If you attend, it's recommended that you arrive in town earlier that day and stake out your preferred viewing spot. Don't forget that we offer lots of affordable parking in Gatlinburg, or if you book the right hotel, you might be able to watch the parade from your room!
Here's another great way to say “Happy birthday, America!” This annual event takes place at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge and is a celebration of our nation's birthday. The event features live music, food and games, all of which are free and open to the public. Bring your blankets or lawn chairs and enjoy a fun day at the park, ending with headline performer Clint Black.
This long-running fair is one of the most popular arts and crafts events in the Smokies each year. It welcomes top craftsmen (and women) from all over the country, who converge on the Gatlinburg Convention Center to show off their best work and demonstrate their skills. This is a juried event, which means participants must pass strict guidelines when it comes to authenticity and being hand-made. The fair also has daily country/bluegrass shows, which add a whole different dimension to the experience. Whether you're shopping for a hand-made souvenir from the Smokies or just there to browse, this fair is a must-see for arts and crafts lovers.
Head to the Townsend Visitor Center in Townsend, TN, to see professional balloonists from all over the country take to the air, adding lots of light and color to the evening sky. Most of the balloons are aloft from 8 to 9:30 p.m., depending on the weather.
About Leif Palmer
Leif Palmer loves residing in Gatlinburg. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.