How To Plan Your Winter Trip To Gatlinburg

Wondering where to spend the winter break? Gatlinburg has everything you could want or need for the perfect festive period, from hiking the crisp Smoky Mountains to fantastic Christmas performances in nearby Pigeon Forge. Explore Gatlinburg and its surroundings in the snow, and have your breath taken away by the magical displays and performances along the way.

Gatlinburg Winter Accommodations

The best place to stay when you are visiting Gatlinburg is in one of the many cabin rentals. The cabins provide privacy with all the comforts of home, and then some. Many have hot tubs and most have a fireplace or a fire pit outside. While there is plenty to do in the winter, spending time relaxing around the cabin should be part of your plans.

Winter Events in Gatlinburg


Winterfest runs from November through February and brings a winter wonderland to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Over more than five million tiny sparkling lights look like fireflies as night falls over the town, forming extraordinary light displays over the mountain streets. Watch the lights come to life in the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, where floats will be adorned with special lighting displays, performers, and live music.

Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights

Another way to see the sparkles, you’ll be taken on an unforgettable journey through Gatlinburg with light displays as you’ve never seen before. Displays are all made from LED lighting, so they shine bright and crisp. You’ll see animals indigenous to the Smoky Mountains, such as foxes, rabbits, and deer, as well as snowmen and Christmas-themed toys.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

Head to Dollywood for Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, where you’ll be surrounded by lights, holiday music, an assortment of rides, and even fireworks to illuminate the wintery skies.

Christmas at Dolly’s Stampede

Can’t get enough of Dolly? Buy a ticket to Christmas at Dolly’s Stampede and be enchanted by the fantasy land created within the arena, watching elves from the North Pole and the South Pole go head to head! Country Tonite Theatre also brings the holiday spirit to the foreground for guests of all ages. Expect some special guests such as Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus himself as classic holiday songs are beautifully performed.

Gatlinburg New Year’s Eve Ball Drop & Fireworks Show

Close to 50,000 people will gather at the intersection of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail on New Year’s Eve at the base of the Space Needle, where an exciting show is a promise. As the clock strikes twelve, fireworks will explode from the top of the 400-foot Space Needle, paired with stunning rhythmic LED lights on the tower to make the display even more mesmerizing. Choreographed to specially curated music, the Gatlinburg New Year’s Eve Ball Drop & Fireworks Show is not to be missed!

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg opens up a whole world of opportunities for winter thrills. Known to be Tennessee’s primary destination for snowboarding and skiing – as well as snow tubing – there is plenty to uncover in this mountain play park. There’s even a Cubbies Snow Zone for little ones to enjoy the white powder as well! The ski and snowboard season tends to begin in early December and carry through until mid-March. There’s no need to rent a car to get there; hop aboard the Aerial Tramway in Downtown Gatlinburg and you’ll be taken straight to the mountain top. The Ober Gatlinburg Freestyle Terrain is a space to try out different tricks on the slopes, and the expert park crew are always on hand to maintain a safe, but an extremely fun, area. 

Go Hiking

Another option for the outdoorsy types is hiking the Smoky Mountains. For breathtaking mountain views, fascinating ice formations, and snow-kissed tips, hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is perfect. There are numerous different trails to go on, each offering something different (and at different levels of difficulty). Embark on the Alum Cave trail, which leads to Mt. LeConte – the third tallest peak in the range. Along the 10-mile hike, you’ll see unique geological formations and caves, and will also get some snow in your hair as this is a high elevation hike! The Abrams Falls hike will take you to not the highest in altitude, but the highest in volume waterfall in the Smoky Mountains, so it is a spectacular sight to see.

Relax in Your Cabin

In between all of these adventures, it’s crucial to have a lovely home-away-from-home to return to. Snuggle up in your cozy cabin and soak up the serenity. Get that roaring fire going in the fireplace and exchange stories of your days’ adventures. Spending downtime with friends and family is a lovely interjection between such a mass of activities in Gatlinburg. For a real treat, why not slide into the hot tub and soak in the views of the snow-covered region, keeping toasty in the crisp outside air. Sometimes, all you need is a night in with your loved ones in a lovely environment, whether it’s a romantic tub for two, or a group trip to the snowy Smokies!

Gatlinburg Winter Weather

Weather in winter is cold, generally between 38 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit on average (3 – 12 Celsius). So, pack warm! Layers are the key to keeping toasty, so rather than one big sweater, pack lots of layers to keep the heat in! If you’re planning on skiing or snowboarding, remember to bring the necessary jackets and pants, and hikers, remember some sturdy shoes with good grip, because trails can get icy and slippery during the winter seasons. No matter what you plan on doing in Gatlinburg, there’s one big essential: a warm winter jacket! Gloves and a hat wouldn’t go amiss either – you don’t want to ruin your adventures by being too cold!

Visiting Gatlinburg in winter is truly stepping into a winter wonderland – and a wonderland that has it all! Make a cabin home and experience the magic of Gatlinburg and its surroundings during the festive season. It really is lights, camera, the action here, thanks to the amazing LED displays, the wonderful shows, and the exciting adventures that you’ll find right on your doorstep. Winter in Gatlinburg is a winter you’ll never forget, whether it’s a sweethearts’ getaway or a family holiday in the snow.