Posted by Phil Rodgers in Things to Do
Now that Halloween is in the rear-view mirror, it's time to set our sights on two of the year's biggest holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the Smoky Mountains, we include both days in one big festival called Winterfest. It's actually a four-month-long observation in the Smokies - from mid-November through February - an entire season-long celebration of winter (and late fall) and the many holidays and festivities that accompany it.
You'll find Winterfest events taking place in Gatlinburg and Sevierville too, but in Pigeon Forge, home of Goats on the Roof, the city will be kicking the festival off on November 10 at Patriot Park, with ceremonies that run from 5 to 9 p.m. The evening's agenda will begin with a free concert by Pigeon Forge singer-songwriter Janelle Arthur, followed by the official unveiling of the new Wonders of Light Walking Trail, taking place in the Pigeon Forge municipal lot between The Island and the LeConte Center. Mayor David Wear and Megan Alexander - UPtv star and host of Small Town Christmas - will be on hand, along with a surprise guest, to activate the new lit Walking Trail, which runs along the city's Riverwalk Greenway.
That's just one of two new light installations in Pigeon Forge this season. The other is the Wonders of Winterfest Christmas Village, located at Patriot Park. At 6:45 on the evening of the 10th, Megan Alexander will also host a veterans' tribute featuring local high school choruses as well as the Pigeon Forge Honor Guard.
These two new light displays will join the city's existing light displays, adding up to a total of 6 million lights put up by the city of Pigeon Forge. Other favorite displays include scenes like the tank, battleship, rolling wave and American flag being raised at Iwo Jima, all found at Patriot Park. And you'll see the 12 Days of Christmas re-enacted in lights, beginning with 12 drummers drumming at the Baskin Robins on the south end of the Parkway and ending with a partridge in a pear tree in front of the Quality Inn and Firehouse Subs. Also look for festive displays in the Old Mill neighborhood as well as the lighted bridges on Wears Valley Road, Jake Thomas Road, Old Mill Avenue and Dollywood Lane.
One of the easiest ways to see all the lights is to simply drive your own vehicle around town. Or you could let someone else do the driving and sign up for a guided lights tour with either of two different commercial ventures in town - Pink Jeep Tours or Redneck Comedy Bus.
Beyond the opening festivities, Winterfest in Pigeon Forge is filled with unique and fun special events that are geared toward all ages. These include the Titanic Christmas & Winter Celebration at the Titanic Museum Attraction (11/8 – 1/8) and the Paula Deen Tree Lighting at Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud (11/26).
Of course, Dollywood theme park has its own Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration taking place November 5 through January 1. This award-winning festival showcases 6 million lights of its own, displayed throughout the park. The new Dollywood Express Light Experience is a classic train ride that gives guests an up-close vantage point as the twinkling lights whiz by, magically changing colors as passengers travel from one section of the park to another. Other highlights include Glacier Ridge, another winter wonderland of light; Merry & Bright, Holiday Light!, a fireworks show; and a wide variety of holiday- and Christmas-themed music shows, found on the stages of Dollywood.
And speaking of shows, keep in mind that the many music theaters of Pigeon Forge will be hosting their special holiday-themed productions, which are traditionally filled with festive costumes and set designs as well as beloved Yuletide carols and other classic songs. Plus, you're likely to get a visit from Santa Claus himself.
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