Gatlinburg transforms into a magical winter wonderland just in time for the holidays during Gatlinburg Winter Magic, a Smoky Mountain tradition. For 26 years, Gatlinburg has delighted visitors of all ages with enchanting light displays, decorations, strolling musicians, special events and seasonal activities.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Gatlinburg” during the 40th Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 4. To help spread a little Christmas cheer, everyone is encouraged to wear Santa hats for the parade. As a matter of fact, more than 60,000 people come to view the award winning parade featuring lighted floats, marching bands, equestrian units, giant balloons and of course Santa Claus! For the best view of the parade, spectators can purchase a grandstand seat in the television zone at traffic light #3. Additionally, they will receive a Santa hat and a free download of the Christmas Parade to view at home.

New this year is Gatlinburg’s “12 Days of Christmas.” Nearly 100 unique shops, eateries and restaurants will extend their hours to 10:00 p.m. to allow visitors more time to experience shopping in Gatlinburg for 12 days beginning December 5. The City is offering free parking at the McMahan Garage at traffic light #3 and free Parkway Trolley service during “The 12 Days of Christmas.” For a complete list of participating businesses visit

“Gatlinburg boasts an enormous variety of specialty retail shops featuring unique merchandise and one of a kind, handmade gifts,” said Vicki Simms, Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director. “Gatlinburg’s ‘12 Days of Christmas’ offers our visitors a chance to take advantage of the extended hours for a variety of businesses, all while enjoying the beauty of Winter Magic.”

The cast of Winter Magic Tunes and Tales will entertain visitors walking the Parkway during the holiday season. The costumed cast recreates Smoky Mountain traditions by singing, dancing and playing old time Appalachian music and traditional holiday standards. Winter Magic Tunes and Tales perform on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5:00 to 9:30 p.m. November 27 through December 19 and during “12 Days of Christmas.”

Ring in the New Year in downtown Gatlinburg at the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show and Ball Drop on Historic Nature Trail at the Parkway. For the 27th year, the Space Needle area at traffic light #8 comes alive at the stroke of midnight with a fabulous fireworks show. Free entertainment beginning at 10 p.m.

More Seasonal Events

— Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights, depart at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 from Ripley’s Aquarium Trolley Station each evening November 12 through December 30 for a guided tour of the lighting displays. Dates excluded: December 5, 24, 25, 31. Tickets are $5 and reservations are recommended.

— Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Show, shop for unique items crafted by members of the Gatlinburg Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community.  The free show runs November 24 through December 6 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

— Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees, November 25 through November 29, Mills Auditorium. Admission is free and the event, a benefit for Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, includes more than 80 decorated trees, a craft station for children and pictures with Santa Claus. The ticketed event, Candy Canes and Cocktails, will kickoff the festival November 24 at 6 p.m.  Tickets are available at

— The Nutcracker “Sweet”, Thanksgiving weekend, November 27 and 28, is performed at the Gatlinburg Mills Auditorium. Presented by the Smoky Mountain Dance Theater Company, enjoy this holiday classic presented in Gatlinburg, with performances at 7 p.m. in the W.L. Mills Auditorium. Call (865) 680-7369 for ticket information.

Gatlinburg Winter Magic is part of Smoky Mountain Winterfest. To learn more about these and other events in Gatlinburg, call (800) 588 -1817 or visit