By Leif Palmer
Posted on November 4, 2022
Winter doesn't officially arrive until mid-December, but for all intents and purposes, that season is upon us in the city of Gatlinburg. In fact, it's time for the annual Winterfest celebration, a nearly four-month-long observation of wintertime, Christmas and all the awesome things that go along with being in the Great Smoky Mountains this time of year.
In Gatlinburg, the city will kick off Winterfest on November 10 at the Shade Tree Lot downtown. The entertainment for this year will be singer and TikTok sensation Hannah Dasher, best known for her “Stand By Your Pan” series on that particular social media platform.
One of the highlights of the city's kick-off festivities is the annual Chili Cook-Off, presented by Bush's Chili Beans. At this event, cooks and chili creators from around the area converge on downtown to cook their homemade chili recipes onsite. Festival attendees can enjoy the live entertainment while sampling all the chilis, all to help mark the beginning of this special season of the year.
This year's kick-off will run from 5 to 8 p.m., and it will also include the official lighting of the millions of colorful and twinkling Winterfest lights located throughout the city. The lights will be in place all the way through Winterfest, which wraps up at the end of February.
Note that the Chili Cook-Off is a ticketed event, and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Organizers recommend that interested visitors purchase their tickets in advance. VIP tickets are $20 per person for early entry (before 5 p.m.), while general admission tickets are $15 per person (admission beginning at 5:30 p.m.).
Visitors to Gatlinburg during Winterfest will have access to a wide range of special events that are hosted both by the city and by individual businesses and other commercial ventures. Among the events to keep an eye out for are the Astra Lumina light show at Anakeesta (through 1/1); Lights Over Gatlinburg, a special light display/show at SkyLift Park (11/14 – 1/31); Gatlinburg's Festival of Trees (11/22 – 27); the Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show (11/22 – 27); the Gatlinburg Christmas Parade (12/2); and the Gatlinburg New Year's Eve Ball Drop & Fireworks (12/31).
If you're driving in for the day and not staying at one of our many lodging providers, you'll find plenty of convenient parking near Gatlinburg Convention Center.
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.