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Admiring the snow covered scenery is one of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains in winter.

6 Awesome Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains in Winter


The winter season is upon us, and the lovely scenery makes it one of most beautiful times of the year to enjoy a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains. Many people think that the area shuts down in the winter, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are six of our favorite things to do in the Smoky Mountains in winter:

1. Enjoy the Winterfest Lights

Smoky Mountain WinterfestThe holiday excitement lasts all winter long in the Smoky Mountains! From November through mid-February, you can enjoy millions of twinkling lights lining the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Parkways and throughout town during Winterfest. You can take in all the lights from the comfort and warmth of your car, or hop on the Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg Trolley to allow someone else to take the wheel. We recommend taking a stroll along the Wonders of Light Walking Trail near The Island in Pigeon Forge for unbelievable displays of the lights!

2. Gatlinburg Ball Drop and Fireworks Show

Come celebrate the promise of a brand new year at the annual Gatlinburg Ball Drop and Fireworks Show. At the midnight hour on Dec. 31, those in attendance can expect the ball to drop and an amazing display of fireworks to erupt from the top of the 407-foot-tall Gatlinburg Space Needle. Special music will be choreographed to accompany the fireworks, and rhythmic LED lights have been added to the tower to enhance the display. Come early for the live musical entertainment that will begin at 10 p.m., and you may also want to come out in time to enjoy the many New Year’s Eve specials that can be found at area restaurants.

3. New Year’s Eve at the Island

Island in Pigeon Forge at nightThe Island in Pigeon Forge is also planning a huge celebration to ring in the new year on Dec. 31. This family-friendly, free event starts as early as 10 a.m. with excellent live musical entertainment and tons of activities. You’ll find interactive games, face-painting booths, and lots of good food and drinks available. Midnight will close out the event with a huge fireworks display. Be sure to come early, because this is one of the most popular things to do in the Smoky Mountains in winter!

4. Winter Sports at Ober Mountain

Ober Mountain offers family fun all year round, but it provides some truly special activities exclusively in the winter months. Between mid-December and mid-March, you’ll have the opportunity to hit the slopes for some amazing skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. Lessons are even available if it’s your first time. You can also enjoy a wonderful ride on the thrilling Tennessee Flyer Mountain Coaster and the aerial tramway that offers stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

5. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

smoky mountain christmas at dollywoodFrom early November through early January, Dollywood is transformed into a magical winter wonderland as part of the annual Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival. During the holiday season, the theme park is decked out with 6 million sparkling Christmas lights and other beautiful decorations. Other highlights of the festival include an incredible drone show every night, the opportunity to visit with Santa Claus, and a variety of Christmas-themed shows.

6. Relax in the Perfect Cabin

You’ll need a great cabin to enjoy when you aren’t busy with all of these wonderful things to do in the Smoky Mountains in winter. Here at Heritage Cabin Rentals, we have the perfect luxury cabin for your winter stay. We have cozy, 1 bedroom cabins with a hot tub and a fireplace to cuddle in front of for those looking for romance, and we also have larger cabins with game rooms and other fun amenities for those looking for a memorable family vacation.

Browse our complete selection of Smoky Mountain cabin rentals to start planning your winter vacation!