If you are wondering where you might travel to enjoy an unforgettable Christmas in the Smokies, you may find that the Peaceful Side offers a surprising array of holiday experiences for people of all ages.


For most, it all begins with the different Winterfest kickoff events that occur in the larger towns of the area. Winterfest is an annual event that sees the region draped in millions of holiday lights and really celebrating the season with all kinds of special events, programs and decorations. The kickoff events usually include parades, such as the Townsend Christmas Parade or the parades in Gatlinburg, Sevierville or Pigeon Forge.

In fact, Winterfest is thought to be one of the most anticipated celebrations throughout the entire Smokies region. You can partake of it by following one of the different self-guided auto routes, or you can have just as much fun by staying in the towns. This is because the many different businesses get in on all of the fun and host everything from special food or beverage tastings to entertainment, meetings with Santa and more.

Trolley Rides

As part of the Winterfest experience, you can also enjoy one of the different trolley rides that let you savor the views and hop on or off whenever you see something you’d like to do. The trolleys are affordably priced and you can even find tickets online for some of them. Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland in Kodak (near Sevierville) is a popular destination and offers lots to see and do.


As one of the most family-friendly spots in the country, Dollywood also really shines at Christmas. Guests will meet costumed characters, enjoy a parade of lights, see the “Carol of Trees” and be able to catch a musical show that features Dolly Parton herself (well, a hologram of her!)

Views Galore

Another way to really savor the magical holiday experience in the Smokies is to use one of the destinations that brings travelers far above the towns and lets them get a birds-eye view of the seasonal displays. Ober Gatlinburg is one such example and is the only ski facility in the region. You don’t have to ski to enjoy it, either; you can just take a ride up the aerial tram. There is also the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel in Pigeon Forge for a stunning look at the millions of lights.

Of course, the views and magical experiences don’t have to be grand and overwhelming. Take the charming Holiday Model Train Exhibit at the GSM Heritage Center in Townsend, with a garden scale train and winter wonderland theme. The Santa Mouse Christmas House Craft Show is also a nice way to see some cheery holiday sights, and the mid-November Holiday Homecoming in Townsend is also a magical way to kick off the season with music, a Christmas village, a visit from Santa, crafts, food and more.