Gatlinburg Fireworks at The Space Needle – Photo by Pyro Shows
Break out the red, white, and blue! It’s time to start making plans for Independence Day, and there’s no better way to celebrate the 4th of July than with a stay near the Smokies. And with a full day’s activities in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, there’s enough patriotic fun for even the most die-hard July 4th enthusiast. Plan to start your stay early, as you might need to rest up for the festivities.
Gatlinburg will kick off Independence Day as early as possible. In fact, the parade there is the first in the nation, starting at the stroke of midnight on July 4th. Be among the first in the country to see the marching bands, balloons, and floats that make this early-morning event the much anticipated Gatlinburg 4th of July Midnight Parade. After the parade is over, you might want to retire for a bit, or you can grab an extra-early breakfast to fuel up for the rest of the day’s fun.
Floats of a different kind will be sailing at noon on the Little Pigeon River in Gatlinburg for the River Raft Regatta. Make your way to Christ in the Smokies bridge on River Road by 10 a.m. to register anything that can float, unmanned of course. At noon the river will be covered in sailing vessels of all shapes and sizes, with and end to the race at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Trophies will be awarded for the top three entries in two categories: Trash and Treasure. “Trash” means anything not handmade; “Treasure” is any handmade float. Judges will also award prizes for the most creative raft and for oldest and youngest participants.
View Free Parking for the Patriot Festival
After the Regatta, head down to Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge for an afternoon celebration at the Patriot Festival. Along with plenty of local entertainers, you can catch a concert by singer/songwriter Joe Diffie, famous for “Third Rock from the Sun” and “John Deere Green” among others. Emily Ann Roberts, 2nd place finisher on NBC’s The Voice, and Tribute, an Allman Brothers cover band, will also perform. Food, fun, and games for the whole family will last all day.
If you’re not too wiped out from all that freedom celebrating, you’ll want to ooh and ahh one of the two fireworks shows. Isn’t that the part everyone wants to see on July 4th, anyway? The Pigeon Forge fireworks show will be at Patriot Park around 9:30. Bring your blankets and chairs to set for the show. The Gatlinburg fireworks show will begin at 10 p.m. and will be a 20 minute extravaganza that will best be viewed between traffic lights #3 and #5.
That day-long celebration of freedom will surely set the mood for the rest of the week. Spend the rest of your time in the Smokies enjoying that freedom to the fullest!