Gatlinburg festivals
[ Special Events & Festivals ]

A Visitor’s Guide to the Best Gatlinburg Festivals & Events

All year long, numerous Gatlinburg festivals and events draw visitors to the Smoky Mountains. From sports competitions to crafting festivals, there is an event for everyone in Gatlinburg—no matter what time of year you visit.

Pink flowers bloom alongside of a roadway in the Smoky Mountains during the spring
From wine to wildflowers, Gatlinburg hosts several spring festivals.

Spring Festivals

As the winter chill subsides and the flowers begin to bloom, Gatlinburg is alive with entertainment and events. Due to the warmer weather and happiness in the air, several Gatlinburg festivals and events are held each spring.

Gatlinburg Improv Fest

Dates: March 1-2, 2019

With improv comedy, you never know what will happen next. For quick, off-the-handle comedy and never-ending laughs, attend the Gatlinburg Improv Fest.

Easter Craft Show

Dates: April 17-20, 2019

Each year the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community hosts an Easter Craft Show at the Gatlinburg Convention Center located downtown. Browse the wide selection of handmade crafts and art from this renowned arts community in the Smoky Mountains.

Easter Sunrise Service at Ober Gatlinburg

Date: April 21, 2019 at 5:00 am

Every Easter, Ober Gatlinburg and the Gatlinburg Ministerial Association offer a special Easter service overlooking the mountains. This epic sunrise service includes free Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway rides to and from the mountain. An Easter Breakfast Buffet (for a charge) follows the sunrise service.

Spring Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament

Dates: April 6-7, 2019

The Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament is an annual 2-day, all-ages fishing tournament in Gatlinburg. With more than 10,000 trout to be caught, it’s no wonder this tournament draws in avid fishers from across the nation. On top of the fun, competitors have the chance to win cash prizes.

Smoky Mountain Wine Weekend

Dates: April 12-13, 2019

Do you like wine? Of course, you do. Wine enthusiasts should visit Gatlinburg in the spring when the Smoky Mountain Wine Weekend takes place. Consisting of two events, the Gatlinburg Wine Tour and the Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Wine Fest, guests can sample wine and small plates from Tennessee wineries and restaurants. Naturally, all festival guests must be 21 years of age or older to purchase a wristband and participate in wine sampling.

Hands-On Gatlinburg

Dates: April 12-14, 2019

Have you always thought of yourself as an artist? If so, put those talents to work at the Hands-on Gatlinburg festival hosted by the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. With 40+ classes and expert artists onsite, visitors can learn how to make everything from knitted goods to pottery. Try your hands at woodworking, watercolor painting, jewelry making, and more.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Dates: April 23-27, 2019

The 69th annual Wildflower Pilgrimage offers 150+ programs including guided hikes, instructional walks, demonstrations, guest lecturers, and access to the nation’s top botanical experts. Throughout the festival, guests can learn more about the abundance of flowers, animals, trees, and wildlife in the Smoky Mountains.

Fireflies synchronize their light patterns at night in Gatlinburg
Synchronous fireflies are a Gatlinburg summertime spectacle!

Summer Festivals

Thanks to the sunny skies and perfect temperatures, there is no shortage of Gatlinburg festivals and events during the summer.

Synchronous Fireflies at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Dates: 2019 TBD by the National Park Service

Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains are home to synchronous fireflies? Out of the 19 firefly species found at the national park, these are the only species capable of synchronizing their flashing lights. During a certain point each year, often for the goal of mating, these fireflies create a synchronized display that leaves humans awestruck. While it’s almost impossible to exactly predict when this will happen, the park scientists have gotten excellent at determining when this event may occur.

Every year at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, guests apply by lottery application to witness this jaw-dropping natural event. While the 2018 dates have yet to be chosen, apply in advance!

The First Independence Day Parade in the Nation

Date: July 4, 2019 at 12:01 am

For 43 continuous years, Gatlinburg has been home to the first Independence Day parade in America. Stepping off at 12:01 am, this larger than life parade begins at traffic light #1A in Gatlinburg and ends at traffic light #10 at Ski Mountain Road. Due to the popularity of this event, parade-goers should get to the parade route the day before on July 3rd.

From first-hand experience, either be prepared to wait or stake out your spot early. I’ve been in Gatlinburg on July 3rd and parade goers claim their spots as early as 7:00 am!

Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales

Dates: 2019 Dates TBD

Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales is an annual street performance festival with musical performers, artisans, storytellers, and other theatrical elements. Throughout the Gatlinburg festival, you’ll hear captivating tales from characters dating back as far as the 1800s. The performers arrive at 6:00 pm each night and stroll along Gatlinburg’s sidewalks.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

Dates: July 12-21, 2019

This Gatlinburg festival is so popular it has the Gatlinburg Convention Center bursting at the seams each year. The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair has been voted one of the Southeast’s “Most Popular Events” and boasts more than 200 booths with handmade items from artists and craftsmen from across the nation. Since the vendors are held to a jury process and such high standards, visitors have confidence knowing the art and items they purchased are of the highest quality.

The Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival

Dates: August 11-18, 2019

Musicians and songwriters from across the globe flock to Gatlinburg each year for the Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival. Participants can compete in song competitions, network with other musicians and artists, and attend songwriting and music workshops. Whether you’re a professional musician or a beginner songwriter, this Gatlinburg event is a hit.

A man in German attire plays the Alphorn at Ober Gatlinburg's OkOtberfest event.
Photo Credit: OktOberfest at Ober Gatlinburg / Facebook

Fall Festivals

There is nothing more breathtaking than seeing the Smoky Mountains covered in fall foliage. The red, yellow, brown, and orange leaves blanket the town in a picture-perfect mosaic. The myriad of Gatlinburg festivals and events also take advantage of the changing leaves for some autumn fun.

Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival

Dates: September 1-October 31, 2019

During the months of September and October, Gatlinburg embraces the autumn season with a variety of events, including:

  • Shocktober at the Iris Theatre at the Gatlinburg Space Needle
  • OktOberfest at Ober Gatlinburg
  • The Gatlinburg Craftsmen Fair (October 10-27, 2019)
  • And More

Be sure to take in the area sights and fun throughout this two-month long fall event.

Tennessee Whiskey Experience

Dates: 2019 Dates TBD

The Tennessee Whiskey Experience is a day-long festival dedicated to the state’s favorite spirit. Over the course of the day, attendees can enjoy samples from the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, cocktails from local distillers, listen to guest panels, and more. Plus, there’s plenty of food on hand to soak up the whiskey!

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

Dates: October 10-27, 2019

As part of the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, the second Craftsmen’s Fair of the year takes place at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in October. Similar to the event in July, the autumn fair features artists and craftsmen from all over the country and greater Smoky Mountains area.

Fall Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament

Dates: 2019 Dates TBD

Another recurring Gatlinburg event is the Fall Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament. Just like the tournament in April, this October fishing competition features cash prizes and thousands of fish to catch.

Christmas light decorations shaped like trees line the roadway, along with a sign saying "Gatlinburg Welcomes You."
Photo Credit: Visit Gatlinburg / Facebook

Winter Festivals

If you want to see the winter holidays done right, head to the Smoky Mountains! Gatlinburg festivals in the winter are simply magical. The entire town is adorned with glowing holiday lights and an infectious cheer spreads throughout the streets.

Winterfest

Dates: 2019 Dates TBD

Winterfest is a Smoky Mountains holiday tradition. Each December, the town comes alive with a variety of events, activities, and holiday fun, such as:

  • The Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights
  • Annual Fantasy of Lights Parade
  • Silver Bells and Shopping Tales
  • Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees
  • Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community Christmas Holiday Show

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks

Date: December 31, 2019

As the most anticipated (and last) event of the year, the Gatlinburg New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks is an amazing event. When midnight hits, fireworks explode from the base of the Gatlinburg Space Needle for a jaw-dropping fireworks spectacular. With an LED light show and rockin’ music, New Year’s Eve in Gatlinburg is outstanding!

Which Gatlinburg Festivals and Events Will You Attend?

A quick word of advice: If you plan to attend any of the Gatlinburg festivals, plan ahead! From the crafts fairs to the seasonal celebrations, visitors from around the world come to Gatlinburg for a vacation filled with fun. Book your Gatlinburg hotel and attraction tickets as soon as possible for guaranteed festival fun.

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