incredible photo of Gatlinburg TN in winter covered in snow
November 8, 2023

Unlike other vacation destinations, Gatlinburg, Tennessee offers plenty of fun activities all year round. After the last of the autumn leaves fall from the trees, our Smoky Mountain city is transformed into a magical winter wonderland with beautiful seasonal decorations and (if we’re lucky) snowcapped peaks. To help you make the most of your getaway, we've put together a guide to four of the best things to do in Gatlinburg TN in winter:

1. Enjoy Special Events

people lining the street in Gatlinburg before the Christmas parade

Winter brings a number of special events to Gatlinburg that you definitely don’t want to miss! Here is a quick look at some of the most popular winter celebrations in the Smokies:

  • The Festival of Trees is a wonderful fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains that brings together dozens of beautifully decorated Christmas trees.

  • The Thanksgiving and Christmas Arts and Craft Shows are held back to back in the Gatlinburg Convention Center and feature handcrafted holiday gifts that you won’t find anywhere else.

  • On select Friday and Saturday evenings in December, downtown Gatlinburg hosts free holiday concerts as part of Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales.

  • The Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in early December draws over 60,000 visitors to downtown Gatlinburg to see lighted floats, enormous balloons, marching bands, horses, and even more holiday fun.

  • Gatlinburg’s New Year’s Eve Celebration includes an awesome ball drop at the Gatlinburg Space Needle and a spectacular fireworks show.

2. Go Skiing at Ober Mountain

Visiting the Ober Mountain Ski Area is another one of the best things to do in Gatlinburg TN in winter. As Tennessee’s sole ski resort, Ober is the only place in the entire state where you can enjoy all of your favorite winter sports. The slopes typically open for skiing and snowboarding around mid-December and close around mid-March. However, snow tubing at Ober Mountain starts earlier in the season, around mid-November. In addition to all of these great activities, Ober is also home to an ice skating rink, a wildlife encounter, an alpine slide, a mountain coaster, and even more family fun.

3. See the Winterfest Lights

holiday lights in gatlinburg

From early November through mid-February, Gatlinburg showcases a beautiful collection of LED holiday light displays. Depicting traditional Christmas scenes and some of the area’s signature wildlife, there are more than 5 million twinkling lights. To see the Winterfest lights, you can drive around the city yourself or take the trolley!

4. Visit Indoor Attractions

The winter months are a great time to visit Gatlinburg’s excellent indoor attractions. Whether you're looking for educational fun or gorgeous views, there's a place for you in Gatlinburg. Some of our favorite places to spend the day include:

  • Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

  • The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

  • Sugarlands Visitor Center

  • Gatlinburg Space Needle

  • Gatlin's Fun Center

  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium

Gatlinburg cabin in the winter with a creek view

When you stay with Parkside Cabin Rentals, you will be minutes away from all of these wonderful things to do in Gatlinburg TN in winter. Tucked away in the foothills of the mountains, our cozy cabins are the perfect home away from home for your vacation. To start planning your getaway, browse our collection of Gatlinburg cabin rentals!

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