10 Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Gatlinburg
Updated: October 25, 2023
AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
Cozy up in your whirlpool tubWhen the weather outside is frightful, you can stay cozy when you book one of Gatlinburg’s hotels with a Jacuzzi in-room. A few of our top picks for hotels with whirlpool tubs include The Edgewater Hotel (some rooms have gas fireplaces, too), Old Creek Lodge (all rooms have balconies overlooking a stream), Baskins Creek Condominiums (full kitchens and stone fireplaces are a draw) and Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Waterpark (a full schedule of holiday activities will keep families entertained).If a Christmas-themed lodge seems right up your alley, book a room at The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge. Just 20 minutes north of Gatlinburg, the Bavarian-style inn features year-round Christmas decorations and live music performed by Santa. One- and two-bedroom suites include in-room Jacuzzi tubs.
Experience the tunnel of lights at Gatlinburg SkyLift ParkFrom November to January, your daily admission to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park includes “Lights Over Gatlinburg.” The magical nighttime event brings more than 60,000 twinkling lights to the mountaintop park. For a memorable photo op, walk across the Gatlinburg SkyBridge and through its 200-foot tunnel of lights.
Get in the spirit with holiday street performances
Play in the snow at Ober GatlinburgAs the only official ski area in Tennessee, Ober Gatlinburg is the place to be for snowy fun in winter. Ride the Aerial Tramway from downtown Gatlinburg up to the mountaintop park, where you can ski to your heart’s content (or until your nose gets too cold). There’s also indoor ice skating, snow tubing and a mountain coaster you can ride. The ski area typically opens in mid-December and closes in early March, with holiday hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
See a frozen waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Sip hot chocolate on a mountaintopSpend a romantic evening sipping hot chocolate and watching the sunset at Anakeesta, Gatlinburg’s mountaintop theme park. A 14-minute gondola or chairlift ride will take you to the top of Anakeesta mountain, said to be the highest point in downtown Gatlinburg. All sorts of activities (and great mountain views) await you at the top.
Shop for handmade gifts at the Christmas Arts & Crafts Show
Warm up with a moonshine tastingIf winter in Gatlinburg has you chilled, warm up with a tour of a distillery and the chance to sample some seasonal moonshine. Tours of Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery include a tasting of seven varieties, which means you can try seasonal flavors like peppermint, pumpkin pie and eggnog. Sugarlands Distilling Company, another popular distillery, offers tours and tastings of seasonal flavors and seasonal cocktails available for purchase.
Watch the Gatlinburg Christmas Parade
Bonus: Stay for the New Year’s celebration
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AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
Katie Broome is a AAA Travel Expert.
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