The Best Times of the Year to Visit Gatlinburg

In every season, Gatlinburg shines. Come experience all that this Smoky Mountains jewel has to offer. The best time to visit Gatlinburg is any time at all!

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SPRING

Gatlinburg in March and April has cool days and chilly nights, yielding to warmer May temperatures as wildflowers bloom, crafters show their spring wares, and golfers hit the links.

March 31-April 3

Great Smoky Easter Arts and Crafts Show

Members of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community display and sell unique, handmade works at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

April 21-24

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Learn to identify native wildflowers, edible mushrooms, or birds. Expert guides teach you the Appalachian herb lore, how Native Americans used this land, and much more. Register early for these popular events.

April 16-17

Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival

This spring festival just southwest of Gatlinburg offers fiber arts classes and demonstrations, family activities, and displays of llamas, angora rabbits, sheep and goats. It’s great for kids who love animals and adults seeking an unusual craft event.

April 30-May 1

Smoky Mountain Winefest

Sample wines from dozens of vintners while nibbling treats from area restaurants.

April—May

Hands-On Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts

Take lessons from local artisans along Gatlinburg’s Arts and Crafts Community trail. Whether you’re a total novice or an experienced crafter, you’re welcome. Spring dates can vary.

May

MayFest at Ober Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg goes German. Drink in the beer garden, listen to a traditional “oompah” band and watch Bavarian folk dances. Artisans demonstrate their skills at local handicrafts. Kids can enjoy bounce houses and games.

All Spring

Golf in Gatlinburg

Spring’s warmer temperatures, without summer’s humidity, are great golfing weather.

Gatlinburg Golf Course offers 18 holes of challenging golf with spectacular views of the Smokies and unique holes (like “Sky Hi,” a hole with a 200-foot drop). Prefer mini-golf fun? Gatlin’s Mini-Golf has 45 holes on two courses.

SUMMER

Celebrate Gatlinburg’s patriotic, hometown summer spirit with Fourth of July activities and Appalachian arts.

All Summer

Dollywood’s Summer Celebration

The beloved theme park stays open later in summer, giving you have more time to enjoy performances and thrills like the Daredevil Falls log flume, Barnstormer ride that swings you 81 feet into the air, and Mystery Mine roller coaster that speeds through an abandoned coal mine. Dollywood’s Splash Country water park is open for summer fun too.

June—August

Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales

All season, Gatlinburg’s Parkway bustles with storytellers, singers, dancers, musicians and characters bringing Appalachian lore and songs alive. Take a stroll and listen to dulcimers, 1940s swing, barbershop quartets, traditional music and much more.

July 4

Fourth of July Midnight Parade

Gatlinburg stakes its claim to holding the country’s earliest Fourth of July parade every year, with this high-stepping patriotic event beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the Parkway.

July 4

River Raft Regatta

Anyone can enter an unmanned “raft” in this exciting race! Summer’s splashiest competition is at noon on July 4, with rubber ducks, handmade floats and unusual watercraft all vying to win. You’ll need to register your raft starting at 10 a.m. so plan to spend the morning mixing with other regatta fans as well as costumed characters.

July 4

Fireworks at the Space Needle

Gasp at a huge July 4 fireworks display, shot into the night sky from the top of Gatlinburg’s Space Needle, 407 feet above the city streets. Head to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park to view the blossoms of light from above—the park’s mountaintop location overlooks the Space Needle, and SkyLift Park offers patriotic festivities too.

July 3-5

Red, White and Brew at Anakeesta

July bustles with kids’ entertainment plus views and brews for adults at Anakeesta’s summer festival. Jugglers, cloggers, performers, kids’ movies, nature activities, dining specialties, and terrific views of Gatlinburg’s July 4 fireworks all make Anakeesta a great family outing.

July 9-18

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

More than 200 booths of artisan gifts and artworks fill the convention center, showcasing the huge range of local handiwork, from pottery and silver to leatherwork, painting, woodwork, and homemade foods too. Can’t make the summer fair? Visit in October for the fall craft show.

Aug. 19-22

Gatlinburg Songwriters Festival

Musicians gather at this August workshop to showcase their songs, but even if you’re not a songwriter yourself, you benefit: Performers in town for the festival perform all over Gatlinburg, at venues including Ole Red, SkyLift Park, the Gatlinburg Inn and Ole Smoky.

August

Tennessee Square and Round Dance Convention

When a thousand or more dancers descend on Gatlinburg each August, even visitors who aren’t dancers can watch the fast-footed fun and the splendid Western attire. There’s no charge for watching these skilled dancers strut their stuff.

August

Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival

Glowing hot air balloons fill the summer evening with colors. The balloons don’t take flight, but linger at ground level so you can better experience their beauty. Taste wines, relax in the beer tent, let the kids enjoy children’s activities, eat great local food, and listen to bands as the night descends.

FALL

With autumn leaves, harvest festivals and Halloween fun, fall is a colorful season for visiting Gatlinburg.

September—November

Dazzling fall foliage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Track autumn’s shifting colors with our Fall Foliage Report. In September, spot early color at the highest elevations—head to high peaks like Clingmans Dome (highest point in the national park) where on clear days you can see up to 100 miles. In October, drive the Foothills Parkway or hike the Porters Creek or Little River trails for color at middle elevations. By November, color surrounds you at lower elevations.

September

Gatlinburg’s Taste of Autumn

Leaf-peeping works up an appetite, so head for Taste of Autumn to sample delicious foods from dozens of local eateries all in one place on one September day. This charity event tickles your taste buds with everything from Southern cooking to fine dining to specialty pizzas.

September—early November

Legend of Hallow Mountain at Anakeesta

You’ll quake as The Gravedigger takes you on a graveyard tour. Try Zombie Ziplining and fly through the air 125 feet above the ground, in the dark. Race downhill on the Haunted Rail Runner Mountain Coaster, but beware the walking dead hunting you.

September—October

OktOBERfest at Ober Gatlinburg

Celebrate all things German with this October tradition featuring Bavarian beers, food, music and dance. Try the mountain coaster, rock climbing wall, scenic chairlift, kids’ rides, indoor ice skating and more.

October

Ripley’s Fright Nights

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure dishes up scares year-round, but their October Fright Nights ramp up the terror, with spooky effects so realistic, young kids aren’t allowed inside.

November

Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff

Every November, great cooks stir up their homemade chilis, and you get to taste their efforts. Bush’s Chili Beans sponsors this tasty competition that includes chili eating contests and live music.

WINTER

Winter events in Gatlinburg celebrate the mountains’ snowy weather, winter sports, and glittering holidays.

November—February

Winter Magic Lights Self-Guided Tour

Sparkling lights drape the town with color all winter long—not just at Christmas! Winter Magic lasts all the way to the end of February to brighten the darkest months.

November—February

Anakeesta’s Enchanted Winter

Enjoy 360-degree views from the highest spot in downtown Gatlinburg, then stroll the suspended Treetop Skywalk. All winter long, relish the sparkling lights, seasonal décor, specialty food and drink, shopping, and children’s activities.

December

Fantasy of Lights Parade

Early each December, Gatlinburg’s family-friendly parade high-steps through town with marching bands, floats, and Santa himself.

January

Winter wonders at Gatlinburg’s museums

With fewer visitors in town after the holidays, January in Gatlinburg is an ideal time to explore museums without crowds. The variety is huge, with something for every interest—the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, renowned craft galleries at Arrowmont School, and a replica of the famous ship Titanic are just a few of the city’s fascinating activities.

November—January

Lights Over Gatlinburg at SkyLift Park

Ride the lifts up the mountain by night, and look down at frosty Gatlinburg from the glowing SkyBridge suspended high above the valley. Seasonal lights deck the park, bridge and holiday trees too, and the lights glow until the end of January.

All Winter

Winter Sports at Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is Tennessee’s only ski resort. With its technology for creating snowy slopes, you’ll find plenty of snow for skiing, snowboarding and tubing all season long.