By Leif Palmer
Posted on December 21, 2021
A brand new year is waiting just around the corner. And for those of you who are eager to usher 2022 in with a bang, you've come to the right place. This time around, we'll be giving you the low-down about the best places in Gatlinburg to celebrate New Year's Eve. That will give you plenty of options for where to go and what to do on December 31. But the cool part is that since you'll be in downtown Gatlinburg, there's a lot more to do than just count down to midnight.
The 33rd edition of this annual event is scheduled for Friday, December 31. Since 1987, this free, family-friendly celebration has been one of the largest organized New Year's Eve events in the nation, and this year will be no exception to that trend. Slippery When Wet, a Bon Jovi tribute band, as well as other downtown celebrations and activities will entertain partygoers. The live music begins at 10 p.m. It all leads up to a midnight fireworks show and the ball drop from the top of the 400-foot-tall Space Needle attraction at the corner of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail/Airport Rd. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early to take advantage of the seasonal specials being offered by downtown restaurants and businesses. It's also a good idea to get there early to claim a good vantage point for watching the fireworks.
This outdoor-adventure attraction is perched in the hills overlooking downtown, which makes it an ideal spot for viewing the city's fireworks show. On New Year's Eve, the park will be open until midnight, with areas like Arctic Alley, the TreeTop Skywalk, AnaVista Tower and Vista Gardens all decked out for winter with stunning lights as part of the attraction's Enchanted Winter experience. Starting at 10 p.m., the staff will hand out party items to celebrate with and watch the New Year's Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show below.
This is another attraction that overlooks downtown from the mountains and offers a unique vantage point for watching the countdown and fireworks, but tickets for their New Year's Eve festivities have already sold out.
A lot of folks who come to town for the ball drop make hotel reservations near downtown. Then it's a simple matter of walking to a viewing location for the countdown and fireworks show. In some cases, you might even be able to get a hotel room with a window facing the Space Needle, allowing you to enjoy the festivities in the privacy of your accommodations. At this late date, however, that might be a challenge.
If you choose to drive in for New Year's festivities, we recommend arriving earlier in the day and finding a good parking location. We operate seven different Gatlinburg parking lots, all located in the downtown area, and many of them are within just a block or two of the Space Needle. Of course, if you choose this route, just know that traffic will be heavy in the downtown area and some routes may be closed. So be patient and allow yourself plenty of time to get out of downtown following the celebration.
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.