By Leif Palmer
Posted on November 15, 2018
Winter doesn't officially arrive until December 21, but as far as the folks in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are concerned, that season might as well already be here. That's because these communities have already kicked off Winterfest in the Smokies, the annual festival that celebrates Christmas, the new year and everything that's great about winter in the mountains.
One of the hallmarks of the four-month-long festival is the abundance of Winterfest light displays throughout our cities and our county. The bright, colorful LED arrays light up our winter nights with festive holiday figures and animated scenes that never fail to get folks into the spirit of the season.
In Gatlinburg, you can take specially designated trolley tours that pass by most of the lights to be seen downtown and out U.S. Hwy. 321. These Trolley Rides of Lights depart the downtown trolley center at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. nightly and allow you to sit back, relax and take in all the festive scenes in climate-controlled warmth while someone else does the driving. Admission is $5 per person.
Winterfest also consists of themed special events throughout the entire run of the festival. In Gatlinburg, for example, events like the Festival of Trees, Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show, Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade and New Year's Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show are guaranteed to get even the scroogiest and grinchiest of visitors into a festive winter mood. Of course, our neighbors in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville have lots of fun events scheduled as well, and Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas offers up tons of holiday shows, crafts, foods and attractions through the end of the year.
Although we get a lot of visitors to Gatlinburg each winter, it's still a great time to come visit us. The lights are beautiful, the events are fun, and you can even enjoy snow skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing up at Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort. If you're just driving in for the day, you won't have any trouble finding parking thanks to our abundance of Gatlinburg parking garages in the downtown area.
And if you need to find lodging for your stay, we've got you covered there as well. Properties like Bearskin Lodge in Gatlinburg, Cherokee Lodge in Pigeon Forge and The Lodge at Five Oaks in Sevierville all offer comfortable rooms, top amenities and proximity to the activities you're most interested in.
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.