Posted by Phil Rodgers in Gatlinburg
In our last post a couple of weeks back, we gave you a 30,000-foot overview of how Pigeon Forge will be celebrating Winterfest this season. All of us at Goats on the Roof are already in the swing of things, enjoying all the Winterfest lights, special holiday events and everything else that makes winter in the Great Smoky Mountains such a special time of year.
But there's a lot more to see and experience in the Smokies, so if you're planning to visit the area anytime between now and the end of Winterfest (through February 2023), we have even more fun ideas to share, all of them taking place in our neighbor to the south, Gatlinburg, TN.
Like Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, the anchor of Gatlinburg's Winterfest celebration is the millions of colorful and animated lights blanketing the town from north to south, from downtown to the mountaintops. The Gatlinburg trolley system doesn't offer lighting tours per se, at least not the way they used to. But the city does promote its Winter Magic Lights Self-Guided Tour. Just go to www.gatlinburg.com to download a PDF map that will show you where all the lights and animated displays can be found around town.
The downtown stretch of the Parkway is one of the main areas to explore. There you'll see illuminated white Christmas trees lining that road, symbolizing the white oak trees that were in abundance in the area in the 1700s. There are also lots of lights - primarily the Riverwalk Arches -on River Road. This magical tunnel of colorful light is a scenic complement to the Little River, which runs parallel to the street.
Next, you might want to head a few miles from downtown to the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. This eight-mile loop, which showcases more than 100 arts and crafts studios, galleries and shops, is home to quite a few Winterfest lighting displays, plus many of the individual studios get into the spirit of the season with decorations and lights of their own. A number of local businesses - including Ober Gatlinburg, Anakeesta and Gatlinburg SkyLift Park - are also shining brightly this season with light displays and holiday scenes.
In addition to all the lights, look for holiday-themed special events during Winterfest. From November 22 through December 4, all you arts and crafts aficionados might want to drop in at the Great Smoky Thanksgiving & Christmas Arts & Crafts Show, which is being held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. This annual event showcases the work of members of the Arts & Crafts Community, which we mentioned previously. They'll have all kinds of different arts and crafts forms on display, and some community members will be demonstrating their crafts as well. It's a great opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done while you're in town.
On December 2, the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade is expected to draw tens of thousands of spectators to downtown Gatlinburg, as it does every year. The 47th edition of this annual event will feature lighted floats, marching bands, giant balloons and a visit from Santa Claus. The parade route runs through the heart of downtown beginning at 7:30 p.m. and will be preceded by a lighting ceremony for the Gatlinburg Christmas Tree at the Parkway Plaza at traffic light #3.
You can also say farewell (or good riddance) to 2022 at the city's New Year's Eve Celebration and Fireworks Show, taking place at the Gatlinburg Space Needle. The 34th annual ball drop gets underway with live music at 10 p.m., then at midnight, the Space Needle will light up with a midnight firework spectacular.
But remember that Winterfest doesn't end on New Year's Eve. Look for even more special events taking place in January and February.
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