Of the four seasonal shifts in the Tennessee Smokies, Winterfest is the only one that actually gets an official celebration to mark the change between the seasons, as well as being one of the few events that Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville all provide separate celebrations for.
The first one is Pigeon Forge’s 25th Annual Winterfest Kickoff on November 11th, which is scheduled to coincide with Veteran’s Day as the 4th Annual Salute to Veterans Parade begins the festivities in Pigeon Forge. The parade begins at 4:30PM on the parkway, between stoplights #7 and #10, and leads to Patriot Park at 5:00PM where the celebration continues. There will be musical entertainment, photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a kids’ play area, local food vendors and quite a bit more. Near the close of the evening, the switch for the holiday lights come on and the Trolley Tour of Lights begin for those who want to see them.
The second one is the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Kickoff and Annual Chili Cookoff in downtown Gatlinburg. This is one of the few times of the year when Gatlinburg actually shuts down the main street of the central downtown area to hold all the visitors and vendors who show up for the event. The chili cookoff begins at 5:00PM and features live entertainment as well (sometimes there are even TWO stages on both sides of the street), plenty of kids’ fun things to do, and as it starts to get dark, Gatlinburg will throw their own switch for the holiday lights to come on and begin their Trolley Tour of Lights as well.
And then on December 6th is Sevierville’s Winterfest Kickoff, which this year begins with the Sevierville Christmas parade at 11:00AM, and moves on to the municipal downtown complex at 5:00PM where you can enjoy even more seasonal music entertainment, food, kid’s activities and even fireworks. Then the lights will go on, and the event organizers will have 3D glasses available for purchase to make the lighting displays even more enjoyable!