The Smoky Mountains are calling you to celebrate Winterfest 2022!
Pigeon Forge’s annual Winterfest 2022 celebration starts this Thursday, November 10, 2022, and runs through February 19, 2023. Turn on all the twinkly Christmas lights and let’s get to celebrating!
Winterfest – started in 1990 – is a mix of holiday celebrations, themed special events and millions of decorative lights. After the Winterfest Kickoff, businesses throughout the city offer special activities, and theaters add a Christmas flair to their shows for two months.
The pre-festival began with the 11th Annual Miss Winterfest Pageant on Sunday – because you have to have a queen (or several) for the season. Check out this year’s queens here. The queens will ride a float during the Sevierville Christmas Parade on Dec. 3.
Nov. 10 is the Pigeon Forge Winterfest kickoff!
Head to Patriot Park; festivities begin at 5:00 p.m. Celebrate the winter wonderland the city is decked out in more than 6 million holiday lights. All events at the kickoff are free to the public and will feature food trucks and other exciting holiday vendors.
New Displays For 2022
This year promises some exciting new light installations along the Riverwalk Greenway and in Patriot Park. The new Wonders of Light Walking Trail includes more than 20 displays with more than 1 million glittering LED lights. Stroll under gleaming arches as you enjoy the shine of overside flowers and meet Old Man Winter along the way. Snowflakes dance to holiday music and bears, squirrels, deer, and frogs are brought to life in lights!
The festivities’ kickoff on Nov. 10 will include the official unveiling of the new Wonders of Light Walking Trail in the Pigeon Forge municipal lot between The Island and the LeConte Center. It also includes a free Janelle Arthur concert before the unveiling. Mayor David Wear, Megan Alexander plus a surprise guest will activate the light displays.
The new glowing showstoppers along the walking trail double the number of light displays in just Pigeon Forge to 40 during Winterfest. Many of these light displays are massive — with some towering 25 feet tall! You can find Winterfest light displays across Pigeon Forge and just off the Parkway. Get to the Riverwalk Trail from the Pigeon Forge Municipal Parking Lot at 2936 Teaster Lane.
In Gatlinburg, enjoy the lights in town from vehicle with a memorable journey on the exciting Gatlinburg Winter Magic Lights Tour. Here’s the map for this self-guided tour of millions of twinkling lights.
Annual Chili Cookoff
Gatlinburg also is home of that annual Chili Cookoff on Nov. 10 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more than 30 years, the city has celebrated the beginning of Winterfest with the Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff presented by Bush’s Beans. The tradition continues with live entertainment and mouth -watering chili sampling, with incredible homemade chili ranging from “mild and delightful to wild and adventurous.”
This year the Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff will take place in the Shade Tree Parking Lot in front of the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Special guest and TikTok sensation Hannah Dasher will be the entertainment at the event. Tickets are required for the 2022 event. It’s recommended that you buy them in advance. Standard tickets are $15 and VIP tickets are $20. VIP ticketholders receive admission at 5:00 pm before everyone else at 5:30 pm. Tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis. No refunds.
Shade Tree Parking Lot is at 120 Historic Nature Trail in Gatlinburg.
Wonders of Light Christmas Village
The all-new Winterfest Christmas Village takes place during the month of November. The event will feature three food trucks. Admission is free to explore more than 35 booths featuring artisans and crafters.
10 November: 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
11-12 November: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
18-19 November: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
25-26 November: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Patriot Park, 186 Old Mill Ave in Pigeon Forge
The Island Show Fountain Courtyard comes to life! This is the kick-off of The Island’s brand new choreographed 40-foot high, LED Christmas Trees and Island Show Fountain Winterfest Show.
The Christmas Tree Lighting is Saturday, Nov. 19, at 6 pm with music, lights and more. Santa will be arriving at 3p.m. for photos with the kids. The Knoxville Streamliners take the stage at 6 p.m. to perform holiday favorites. Then the Island’s Winterfest Show kicks off at 7.
The Island’s multi-million-dollar fountain is choreographed with three 40-foot high, LED Christmas Trees to create a show. Winterfest at The Island Show will continue to play every evening at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. through Wednesday, Jan. 5.
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Christmas themed trips return this year with The Polar Express, an 1¼ hour round-trip passenger excursion that is set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack. Guests on board will enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening and reading along with the magical story. Santa will board THE POLAR EXPRESS™, greeting each child and presenting them with a special gift as in the story, their own silver sleigh bell. Christmas carols will be sung as the train returns to the depot.
Bluegrass Christmas In The Smokies Music Festival
November 17 – 19, join a masterful group of Bluegrass musicians at the Gatlinburg Convention Center for the Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies Music Festival. The festival starts with the Bluegrass All-Star Show on Thursday night.
Nov. 23 – Nov. 27
The 49th year of Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees will benefit Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains and the Gatlinburg Chamber Foundation. The Festival of Trees kicks off with Candy Canes and Cocktails Reception on Nov. 22. The Festival will feature a children’s craft and play area, photos with Santa Claus and the beautifully decorated Christmas trees and wreaths.
Christmas in the Village at Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend
Nov. 25 – Dec. 27
Step back in time to a pioneer celebration. “Living history interpreters will act as guides through the holiday-adorned historic Appalachian village full of handcrafting demonstrations allowing visitors to connect with the spirit and history of Townsend, Cades Cove and the Great Smoky Mountains.” Kettle corn and hot cider will be available as guests experience Smoky Mountain traditions and demonstrations. Read more about Townsend in our blog post.
Find the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, 123 Cromwell Dr, Townsend. Entrance is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Village closes at 9 p.m.
Paula Deen Christmas Lighting
Nov. 26 Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud is having its first-ever Christmas tree lighting celebration with a special visit from Paula Deen herself. Paula Deen will be onsite to illuminate a huge 30-foot tree dressed with winter décor and lumberjack themed ornaments. Celebrations begin at 5 p.m. with live entertainment, free pictures with Santa, food and drinks, a hot cocoa bar and a cookie decorating station. At 8 p.m., the season’s special Lumberjack Feud Christmas Show begins with Paula as the special guest.
The seasonal show starts Nov. 21st, when guests can ‘Jack’ up their holiday spirit in the woodsy, back yard ‘Decked out halls’ and sing along to original tunes of the season inspired by folklore of the forest. “Enjoy holiday twists on over a dozen sporting competitions including speed climbing, sawing, log rolling, and more. Sip on some hot chocolate, unwrap your inner flannel, and cheer the Dawsons and McGraws on to see which family will spend Christmas at Santa’s favorite logging camp in the Smokies! Turn sawdust into Christmas magic this year!”
For more about the Lumberjack Feud, check out our blog post. Find the Lumberjack Feud at 2530 Parkway, Pigeon Forge.
Enjoy mountain Christmas parades with the locals!
Gatlinburg Christmas Parade is Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Sevierville Christmas Parade is Dec. 3 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Townsend Christmas Parade is Dec. 4 at 2:30 p.m.
Christmas is a magical time at Dollywood. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana is filled with music, song, dance, lights, fantasy, joy and tasty treats! The adventures are going on now through Jan. 1.
“Explore a Christmas of many colors at Dollywood this holiday season!” Take a walk through the park and notice how each land tells a seasonal story through its unique and vibrant colors. “Discover Santa’s Village with its classic red and green, the crisp blues and whites of winter in Glacier Ridge, a soft candlelight glow throughout Craftsman’s Valley, and more, towering up to” dozens of spectacular 12-foot-tall Christmas trees. See Dollywood’s 6 million holiday lights via a the new Dollywood Express – a classic train ride.
Merry & Bright, Holiday Light! Fireworks return this season on Friday and Saturday nights. Watch as festive fireworks light up the night sky, dancing in tandem with cheerful holiday classics for singing along.
Glacier Ridge tells the “heartwarming story of a special Christmas miracle: The Smokies have iced over so that Polar Bear can visit his cousin Black Bear for the holidays! Cool blue and crisp white lights twinkle in the night, creating an icy home for these two furry friends—without the chill!”
Enjoy heartwarming holiday shows and holiday feasts and sweets with a new menu this year that includes gingerbread funnel cake, pork belly skillet and holiday lemonade.
Plan your holiday celebrations with American Patriot Getaways!
When looking for accommodations during Pigeon Forge Winterfest be sure to visit our website for a wonderful selection of log cabins in and around Pigeon Forge.
Complete visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available online at www.MyPigeonForge.com or by calling 800-251-9100.