Every season in Gatlinburg has its own charm, but fall is truly the most beautiful time of the year. Days are still warm and sunny with just a hint of crispness, and cool nights encourage you to snuggle up with your special someone in front of a crackling fire.
Those same conditions bring the changes that drape a patchwork of red, orange, yellow, gold, tan and green across the Smoky Mountains and provide the backdrop for your fall getaway. It’s impossible to predict exactly when this year’s display will reach its peak, but it’s likely to begin in late September and could last until mid-November if the weather cooperates.
You can enjoy the annual show in several ways. Hike the trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or take a drive surrounded by the fall foliage. You can find some recommendations for trails and scenic drives here.
Besides admiring the fall display, you’ll find there’s plenty to keep you busy in Gatlinburg, whether you’re here for a family vacation or a romantic escape. In fact, fall is a festival during which our shops, restaurants and streets deck themselves out with seasonal displays that celebrate harvest time. Stroll along the Parkway and sample some rich, creamy handmade fudge. Pick out a warm jacket to drape across your shoulders on a cool evening. Catch the trolley to the Arts and Crafts Community and explore its galleries, studios and shops.
A full calendar of special events is in store for your fall visit to Gatlinburg. Here are just some of the events to consider as you plan your getaway.
The Gatlinburg Farmers Market, open from 8:30 to noon Saturdays at 849 Glades Road, runs through October 17th. Visit the market for a selection of farm-fresh produce, eggs, honey, baked goods and arts and crafts with that special Gatlinburg flavor, along with homegrown entertainment.
Tickle your taste buds at Gatlinburg’s annual Taste of Autumn festival from 5 to 8 p.m. September 17 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, where you’ll enjoy lip-smacking samples of Smoky Mountain cuisine prepared by some of Gatlinburg’s outstanding chefs and hand-crafted beverages. You’ll also be supporting a great cause: proceeds support the United Way of Sevier County.
Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg is another signature fall event. For 38 days, from September 25 through November 2, you can join the Bavarian-style fun as musicians and dancers create the spirit of Germany’s most popular festival. Special Oktoberfest beers and traditional German foods are on the menu. As a bonus, the trip up to the resort and park on the Aerial Tramway offers incredible views of the mountains clad in their autumn glory.
Gatlinburg is world-famous for its skilled artisans and craftspeople, and they’ll be displaying their unique art for sale at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair October 8 through 25 at the Convention Center. Top local artisans and artists from across the U.S. will be delighted to demonstrate their talents and tell you about the processes they use to produce their works.
As fall deepens and begins to turn to winter, who doesn’t crave the snappy taste of some well-seasoned chili? Sample the spicy concoctions from our local chefs at the annual Chili Cookoff from 5 to 8 p.m. November 11 on the downtown Parkway, and help the judges decide which one’s the best. The Chili Cookoff coincides with the 26th Annual Winter Magic Kickoff, featuring the illumination of more than 3 million lights that transform Gatlinburg into a wonderland.
For a complete listing of special events and tons of information you can rely on to plan your fall getaway, peruse our free vacation guide. You can download a copy of the guide or have it mailed to you.
See you in the fall!