Anakeesta, located in the heart of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, offers a unique outdoor experience that is especially enchanting during the Christmas season. This mountaintop park transforms into an enchanted winter wonderland, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations, creating a magical atmosphere for visitors of all ages. Guests can explore the whimsical treehouses, walk along the scenic canopy walkways, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. The ride to the summit provides a breathtaking journey, showcasing the beauty of the area in all its winter splendor. Anakeesta also features interactive activities for kids, cozy fire pits, and delightful dining options, making it an ideal destination for families looking to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit. The blend of natural beauty, holiday cheer, and a range of activities, from zip-lining to gem mining, ensures that a visit to Anakeesta during Christmas is a memorable experience.
The 25 Days of Christmas at Ober Gatlinburg are extra special. Beginning on December 1st, the 25 Days of Ober may be the coziest and happiest event in Gatlinburg. Each year, Ober Gatlinburg transforms its area into a snowy wonderland, inviting guests to enjoy tubing, skiing, and other winter activities. Tickets are now available for the Family Snow Zone. After enjoying the frosty fun, warm up next to one of the fire pits, roast marshmallows, and listen to carolers. Featured artisans will be exhibiting their wares, and there will be crafts for kids to enjoy. As always, indulge in delicious fudge, visit delightful critters, and take in amazing views as you ride the alpine tram to the mountain’s summit!
Just north of Gatlinburg, the town of Pigeon Forge goes all out with its Christmas decorations. Each year, Winterfest celebrates the season by adorning the town with over 5 million lights, creating an unbelievably festive display at every turn. Embark on a self-guided tour through the 24 illuminated attractions and marvel at the twinkling lights. You can download a map of the Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights from the Pigeon Forge Winterfest website. This activity is completely free and fun for the whole family. The lights don’t stop there; many ticketed attractions, like Dollywood and the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, join in with incredible displays of their own. Don’t miss the Christmas parades in Downtown Gatlinburg on December 1st, following the Christmas tree lighting ceremony!
Need to tackle some Christmas shopping during your stay? Here in the Smokies, we take that term literally. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are home to several Christmas shops that offer everything you need to celebrate the season. Find lights, trees, garlands, ornaments, gift wrap, home decor, and more at stores like The Christmas and Candle Shop, Santa’s Claus-et, and the Christmas Place. Once you’re decked out for the holidays, find gifts for everyone on your list at the many souvenir shops, retail outlets, and specialty shops throughout the Smokies.
**BONUS: Great Smoky Mountain Railroad**
The Smoky Christmas fun isn’t limited to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The Smokies stretch into North Carolina, home to many Christmas-loving mountain towns. One such town is Bryson City, home of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. This fully functioning train tour takes you through the beautiful scenery of the Smoky Mountains. Every Christmas season, the train transforms into the Polar Express. Climb aboard to meet Santa, enjoy hot chocolate, and embrace the music and merriment of the season as you ride through the mountains on this historic train and rail line. This is an incredible Christmas experience like no other and one you don’t want to miss. Book early, as tickets sell out fast!