Find Your Holiday Cheer in Tennessee

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The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development offers events and attractions to visit during the holidays.

Tennessee holiday, Christmas, Christmas in Tennessee, Nashville Christmas, Pigeon Forge, holidays, holiday travel

Smoky Mountain Winterfest

Tennessee is the best place to be for holiday cheer.

‘Tis the season for Tennessee to pull out the stops in order to give guests a memorable holiday experience from millions of brilliant lights around the “World’s Fastest Half Mile,” to the dazzling decorations at the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Graceland, and Hank Williams, Jr. helping to welcome in the new year, Tennessee is the best place to be for holiday cheer. Here’s a peek of what Tennessee has gift wrapped for its guests. For a complete list of holiday happenings, visit


Be inspired this holiday season at Dollywood’s Christmas in the Smokies, a five-time award winner of America’s Best Christmas Event, Nov. 9 through Jan. 4, 2014. Guests can expect more than 20 rides and attractions, holiday decorations and Christmas-themed menus. Holiday favorites include “'Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “O’ Holy Night,” “Christmas with The Kingdom Heirs,” and “Carol of the Trees.” Visit Santa’s Workshop and the not-to-be-missed Parade of Lights as it features Christmas floats illuminated with colorful lights.

Each holiday season, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville team up to bring one of the most festive lighting displays in East Tennessee with the Smoky Mountain Winterfest Nov. 12 through Feb. 28, 2014. With over five million Christmas lights, displays and attractions, guests will think they have stepped into another world. Pigeon Forge is decorated with over 4 million Christmas lights and displays with loveable characters like Mother Goose, Lady Liberty and Toy Bears. Gatlinburg’s Winter Magic is family and environmentally friendly as each display uses LED bulbs. Sevierville’s Winterfest includes hayrides with Santa, music, dancing, endless hot chocolate, and some of the best shopping in East Tennessee.

“The World’s Fastest Half Mile” transforms into a winter wonderland during Ford Speedway in Lights beginning Nov. 15 through Jan. 4, 2014 at Bristol Motor Speedway. During its seven-week run, the holiday displays will showcase more than 200 dazzling exhibits with over 2 million twinkling lights, the largest holiday light show in the South and one of the biggest in the country. New this year, the tour gives football fans a Battle at Bristol preview, featuring a lighted football-themed display, complete with Virginia Tech and Tennessee Volunteers end zones. Visits with Santa, carnival rides, HVAC Chill Hill Tube Slide, Johnson Controls ice skating rink and a Bristol Fan Zone are also included in this family-friendly spectacle.

Enjoy the award-winning light extravaganza with nearly 1 million lights that transform the gardens' into a nighttime fantasyland at Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights in Chattanooga. Visitors can also decorate gingerbread cookies, sip hot chocolate, listen to music and more.


Experience true holiday magic with “A Country Christmas” Nov. 15 through Jan. 1, 2014 at Gaylord Opryland Resort. More than 2 million Christmas lights will grace the exterior and interior of the establishment as well as horse-drawn carriage rides, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes, and ICE!, featuring Frosty the Snowman as 2 million pounds of ice are carved and colored to offer visitors of all ages an enchanting, Christmas experience. Other attractions include DreamWorks Character Holiday Meet & Greets with Shrek, Madagascar and Po, the Kung Fu Panda.

Guests can enjoy a 13-year Christmas tradition at The Festival of Lights, a driving tour of hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights, animation and many more displays Thursdays-Saturday evenings in December at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon, Tenn. See the Grinch in Fiddlers Grove, send a letter to Santa and see the Christ child in the manger. This magical wonderland beckons its visitors to be enticed and enchanted as several acres are brightened with a holiday glow.

After Christmas is wrapped up, Tennessee guests are invited to stick around Music City for the Music City New Year’s Eve Bash on Broadway, featuring an awesome lineup of musicians and special guests like Brett Eldredge and Blackberry Smoke, headlined by Hank Williams, Jr. Thousands will gather for the festivities, fireworks and countdown for the “Music Note Drop.” The rest of the lineup will be announced in the coming months.


“Flip the Switch” on traditional holiday decorations and lights Nov. 22 at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. Decorations will grace the property as well as snow, a King of Rock ‘n’ Roll Santa, and a slew of special guests. Then, Graceland guests can tour the home in its Christmas splendor through Jan. 8, 2014. A life-size Nativity scene, Santa and his sleigh and other decorations adorn the exterior and interior, all of which were originally displayed by Elvis Presley.

Paris, Tenn. will get a holiday transformation during its Festival of Trees event Dec. 10-24 at The Heritage Center, a historic mansion. More than 30 awe-inspiring Christmas trees will be decorated and displayed for guests to peruse. The town’s 7th annual Holly Jolly Christmas Parade will take place 4:30 p.m. Dec. 14 with the theme, “A Story Book Christmas.”

Welcome in the new year with thousands of people along Beale Street for the New Year’s Eve Celebration on Beale as 2014, the Year of the Horse, gallops in with live music. Watch a 10-foot guitar wrapped in the 60 years of Rock ‘n’ Roll art lower 100 feet onto Beale Street at midnight. The New Year event will kick off a yearlong celebration of Elvis’ first professional recording.

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Amanda Stravinsky
since: 12/2010
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