Gatlinburg Winter Magic
The Gatlinburg Winter Magic show is all new! Even though this year marks the 27th time the sky around the town has been lit up throughout the winter, the change to LED bulbs means that the Winter Magic is even more magical…and energy efficient, a magic all its own.
With the switch to the LED bulbs, Gatlinburg Christmas lights can shine for all 120 days for the same energy costs as it previously took for just three. Those savings translate into a better show for everyone, with new displays and a wider area of coverage. Lights will extend up onto Hwy 321, and several brand-new sets will appear. Joining some of the old favorites that have been refitted with the new bulbs will be a menagerie of wildlife indigenous to the Smokies, fountains, and whimsical snowmen.
The more than three million individual bulbs will come on during a ceremonial lighting at the Winter Magic Kickoff held Wednesday, November 9 from 5-8 p.m. on the Parkway.
The Kickoff will also be a Cookoff. Chili chefs from across the area will be competing for top honors during the Chili Cookoff. Who will win the People’s Choice, Best Booth Presentation, and Best Apron Awards?
The Kickoff event is free. Chili sampling will cost $10, quite a bargain to taste some of the best chili around. Purchase your ticket here! and plan to pick up a special edition t-shirt while you’re in town to mark the occasion. While you’re enjoying a variety of chili recipes and waiting on the lights there is some great music and performers to entertain you. This year’s lineup includes The Grassabillies, a truly acoustic melting pot of Americana and Tara Thompson, a self-described “hillbilly from East Tennessee” and cousin of Loretta Lynn.
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Once the Christmas lights are switched on, you’ll want to see them all. You’ve got two options: see them on foot as you walk around downtown Gatlinburg, or see them from the street as you drive. Both options have their benefits.
If you choose to spend your evening walking, you might want to do so on a Friday or Saturday night. That’s when the Winter Smoky Mountains Tunes and Tales event will be taking place. Between 5-9:30 p.m., you can meet characters, storytellers, and musicians all along the Parkway. Look for Santa’s Elves, Rudolph, historical figures, and carolers.
To see all the lights, you’ll probably want to drive. But that option means that someone is stuck behind the wheel and can’t enjoy the displays as much as everyone else. Instead of piling into your own vehicle, which probably has limited visibility anyway, climb aboard one of the Trolleys for the Winterfest Trolley Ride of Lights.
The enclosed and heated trolleys will follow a route through downtown and along Hwy 321 (with the new displays) at three different times: 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m. Everyone will be able to enjoy seeing the twinkling lights and no one will need to pay attention to the road (except the trolley driver, of course).
For good reason, the Gatlinburg Winter Magic has become a yearly tradition. It’s only going to be better this year!
Save the Date: Gatlinburg Christmas Parade is Friday, December 2