By Leif Palmer
Posted on December 26, 2017
Have you made plans yet for this New Year's Eve? If not, we've got a great idea for ringing in 2018 that doesn't involve traveling to Times Square in New York City. Here in the Smokies, we have our own ball drop event that's turned into quite a celebration when it comes to ushering in the new year. The city's New Year's Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show takes place this Sunday evening, December 31, and it promises to welcome 2018 with a bang – literally.
The event takes place near the Space Needle attraction at the intersection of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail in downtown Gatlinburg. Some 50,000 people typically gather there each year for the festivities, which culminate just before midnight with the dropping of the ball from the top of the 400-foot-tall Space Needle. At the stroke of midnight, the attraction comes alive with the LED light displays, and a musically choreographed fireworks show commences with colorful explosions launched from the top of the Space Needle's observation tower.
This is a free event for anyone living in or visiting Gatlinburg that evening, but if you've never attended before, you should know that there will be a lot of people downtown. You won't be able to simply breeze into town an hour or so before midnight, because traffic is typically pretty congested heading into town that night.
One recommendation would be to plan to stay overnight, which would allow you to walk to and from the event from your accommodations. But if you're more interested in just making a night of it, arrive earlier in the day and park your vehicle at one of our parking garages in Gatlinburg, TN. Depending on how early in the day you get to town, you'll be able to park within easy walking distance of the Space Needle and leave your vehicle for the rest of the day.
From there, there's plenty to do in downtown Gatlinburg before midnight – see some attractions, do some shopping, enjoy lunch and/or dinner, visit some downtown nightspots. Even if it's a little nippy outside, you could take one of the city's downtown trolleys from stop to stop; they're heated for your comfort in winter. Then when it's time for the festivities, you'll easily be able to get near the Space Needle to count down to the new year with 50,000 of your closest friends.
We hope to see you in downtown Gatlinburg on New Year's Eve, and we wish all of you a wonderful 2018.
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.