Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains

Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.


Winterfest Celebrations Return to the Great Smoky Mountains

By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on November 8, 2016

For more than 25 years, folks have been making a big deal about winter in the Great Smoky Mountains. In fact, the communities of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville have been elevating the importance of that season since 1990 with their annual Winterfest celebration.

Running from early November through the end of February, Winterfest is a four-month-long tribute to what used to be, decades ago, a season when all the towns would roll up their carpets and essentially shut down until spring returned with warmer weather. But thanks to Winterfest, visitation to the Smokies has increased dramatically in the past 25 years. With amazing light displays throughout the county as well as a long slate of special season-themed events, there's something to keep visitors of all ages coming into town all year long.

This week, Winterfest festivities have already been getting started, beginning on Monday the 7th with Sevierville's official kickoff downtown. The evening included turning on the juice to the city's many spectacular light displays on Gary Wade Blvd. and other locations throughout town.

Tonight, November 8, Pigeon Forge's Winterfest gets rolling with kickoff activities of its own. The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m. downtown at traffic light #6. Things actually get started in the kids' area at 4 p.m. and continue with remarks by city officials at 5 p.m. Pigeon Forge's millions of lights get powered up at 5:15, followed by a three- to four-minute fireworks display. Live entertainment gets under way at 5:30.

By the way, if you happen to be in Pigeon Forge this upcoming weekend, we hope you also consider making Smoky Mountain Ziplines a part of your Winterfest fun.

Finally, Gatlinburg gets in on the act tomorrow night, November 9, at the city's annual Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff. Taking place from 5 to 8 p.m. on the Parkway downtown, the event starts with remarks by city officials, followed by the ceremonial lighting of more than 3 million lights throughout the town.

Of course, the evening will also feature samplings of chili recipes provided by some 25 area restaurants and businesses as part of the Chili Cookoff. Participants will be competing for awards like People's Choice, Best Booth Presentation and Best Apron. Admission to the street event is free, but tickets for chili samplings are $10.

Locals and visitors who want to view all the Winterfest light displays this season can purchase a map from each city's local visitor's bureau, but the City of Gatlinburg also offers its annual Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights. Considered a favorite wintertime Gatlinburg attraction, these specially designated trolleys carry guests on a journey through downtown and adjacent U.S. Hwy. 321. Trolleys depart at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Featuring one-of-a-kind LED lighting displays running along the downtown Parkway and adjacent River Road, Gatlinburg's lights include the most recent $1.6 million rollout of custom designed and fabricated displays. They showcase animals indigenous to Great Smoky Mountains National park – such as deer, foxes, squirrels and rabbits – as well as snowmen, dancing fountains and a shiny rocking horse. The city's lights are now all quarter-watt LED bulbs, which have saved the city some 95 percent on its energy costs.

The trolleys are heated, but no food or drink is allowed. Children under 3 ride free if they sit in an adult's lap. Admission is $5 per person.


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