Gatlinburg Summer Preview

By Leif Palmer
Posted on May 17, 2023

Wood crafter in the Smokies

It seems like spring just arrived, and now here we are, already staring down the barrel of summer. Even though it won't officially arrive until June, Memorial Day is less than two weeks out, and that's always the unofficial start of the summer vacation season. So if you haven't already made any detailed plans about a trip the Smoky Mountains, read on to learn more about some of the neat things taking place in and around our city this year.

Note that these mostly fall under the category of special events. But in addition to that, Gatlinburg is a great place to play all year long. We have world-class attractions like Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Ober Mountain, Anakeesta and SkyLift Park as well as an endless variety of restaurants and unique shops to help round out your vacation fun. And we're right at the doorstep of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We're your gateway to hundreds of square miles of outdoor adventure, everything from camping and hiking to swimming and fishing.

Summer in the Smokies

This event runs June 10 through September and takes place at Anakeesta. It showcases the work of artist Sean Kenney, whose Nature Connects sculptures are built with LEGO bricks. These whimsical installations are found through the park and help set the stage for an Anakeesta summer that also features new summertime menus, live music at Black Bear Village and the Splash Pad, where kids can cool off on those toasty summer days.

Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales

This recurring annual event is already under way in downtown Gatlinburg. This summer-long festival of street performance features costumed musical artists, dancers and storytellers portraying characters from time periods as far back as the 1800s. Daily performance run from 6 to 10 p.m. on the streets of downtown.

Independence Day Parade

Gatlinburg has the distinction of staging the earliest 4th of July parade in the nation each year. It steps off just after midnight, at 12:01 a.m. on the 4th (the night of the 3rd). It runs from the intersection of East Parkway and Baskins Creek Bypass, heads down the Parkway to traffic light #3 and then ends at Ski Mountain Road. The parade features lots of floats and live entertainment as it makes its way through town. We recommend arriving in town early on Sunday the 3rd to avoid traffic and to stake out your viewing vantage point.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair

This twice-annual event is one of the premier craft festivals in the Smokies. Taking place July 7 through 16 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, it showcases the works of members of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community in Gatlinburg. It's a juried show, which guarantees that the works for sale are handmade and of the highest quality. The fair also features live craft demonstrations and bluegrass music performances.

We'll be providing great parking opportunities at our multiple locations for all of these events throughout the summer. Refer to the website for our Gatlinburg parking garage hours and prices.

Leif Palmer - Gatlinburg blogger

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.


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