Smoky Mountains Events: East Tennessee Festivals and Concerts
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, vacation spots with just seven miles in between, really know how to team up when it comes to a putting together a good shindig. These twin towns, whether capped with snow on a winter afternoon or blanketed with starry skies on a summer evening, host some of the best-loved festivals and events in the Smoky Mountains.
Here’s a month-by-month look at the cowboy shows, outdoor expos, festivals and evening events you should not miss while on your Smokies adventure. And with so few miles from one town to the next, you can easily visit both towns and double your vacation fun!
Smoky Mountain Snowdown—An annual winter event held in Townsend celebrates the history of the Smokies through live music, cleverly woven stories, and the local artisan community’s best in arts and crafts. You’ll want to go to this shindig when you’re hungry, because there will be lots of food including a chili cookoff!
Great Smoky Mountains Outdoor Expo—Whether you’re a new enthusiast or king of the forest, you’ll become a master of your favorite outdoor hobby at this show, featuring all the equipment and tools you want to use. It’s an interactive, family-friendly exposition for everyone interested in conquering their very own piece of the Great Smokies Outdoors.
Saddle Up—The cowboy spirit is alive and kickin’ with this Pigeon Forge gathering of the best in cowboy and cowgirl culture from wranglers to rawhides. Look for Western dance classes, cowboy poets, ranchers, yodelers, cooking demonstrations and a Buckaroo roundup. Yeehaw!
A Mountain Quiltfest—Quilters who know that the art is about more than just patchwork will appreciate this five-day instructive celebration of all things quilting. Quilters can register for classes based on skill level and technique, attend a quilt show showcasing a variety of styles, and compete for prizes in two different categories.
Smoky Mountain Wine Fest—More than 18 wineries from across the state of Tennessee will bring their finest wine, and best of all, provide samples of their labels. But you’ll need a snack or two to pair with your vino, so some of the most popular restaurants in the Smoky Mountains will be in attendance, dishing out small plates for your enjoyment. All this is yours for the price of admission, and you’ll get an opportunity to attend guided tours of Gatlinburg wineries. Can a wine enthusiast ask for anything more?
Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival & Games—Scottish folk from Gatlinburg and the surrounding area come together to create a fun, traditional affair that is both informative and entertaining. This event is filled with Scottish athletics, live entertainment, food, whiskey tastings and much more. Slàinte!
Bloomin’ Barbecue & Bluegrass Festival—The name of this festival says it all. Celebrate championship BBQ, bluegrass music and the arrival of springtime. This event includes the Barbecue Cook-Off, an official Tennessee BBQ championship and gastronomic event pork lovers will not want to pass up. Grab your banjo and warm up those chords for the Mountain Soul vocal competition!
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales—All summer long, this street-performance festival features costumed performers and storytellers that portray historical characters dating back to the 1800s. Walk through the streets of Gatlinburg and see the transformation of sidewalk to stage! The shows provide entertainment for all ages.
Summer Craftsmen’s Fair—More than 180 craftspeople from all over these United States will showcase their unique expressions in art, pottery and other crafts as well as offer their wares for sale. Enjoy demonstrations of artistic skill while listening to live country and bluegrass musicians.
Midnight Independence Day Parade—Gatlinburg’s nighttime spectacular attracts close to 100,000 well-mannered revelers who arrive on July 3 for hours of patriotic fun. Feel the palpable air of excitement as anticipation builds toward the midnight moment when the parade kicks off! Plenty of street lights and store lights keep the downtown area well-lit until the bright and boisterous parade commences.
Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival —Celebrate the Appalachian musical roots with four days of songwriting competitions, workshops, performances, co-writing opportunities, and sessions for mentoring and auditions. Are you on your way to becoming a country and Bluegrass songwriter? This is your event.
Stringtime—An all-day celebration of bluegrass with contemporary artists, this festival takes place in the area surround a working grist mill built in 1830! Look for food, fun and the traditional Smoky Mountain Cornhole Tournament.
Taste of Autumn Festival—The Gatlinburg Convention Center plays host to the Taste of Autumn Festival, a harvest time event serving up scrumptious selections from the best Gatlinburg restaurants and catering companies. And, it’s all for a good cause—the Taste of Autumn benefits the United Way of Sevier County.
Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg—If you’re in the mood to party Bavarian style, let the good times flow during Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg. To join the celebration, you’ll need to take the Gatlinburg Aerial Tram up the mountain. Once you arrive, indoor and outdoor beer gardens, music plus live daily entertainment will all be waiting for you and your best pair of lederhosen.
Shocktober—If you plan to celebrate Halloween in the Smoky Mountains, you won’t want to miss a treat filled with tricks. Shocktober is a one-of-a-kind event that takes place in the Iris Theater located at the base of the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Starring British magician and comedian Keith Fields, this spooky spectacle is your supernatural ticket to horrifically hilarious entertainment.
Winter Magic Kickoff and Chili Cookoff—More than 3 million lights are set aglow throughout Gatlinburg to kick off a magical winter celebration! But hold on to your jalapenos because the festivities include live music and a legendary Chili Cookoff in which the best chili rustlers compete for the People’s Choice Award.
Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies Music Festival—The Smoky Mountain Convention Center plays host to this gathering of some of the world’s best bluegrass players for four days of lively music. It’s Christmas in the Smokies, Bluegrass style.
Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade—Over 60,000 people gather in Gatlinburg to witness an award-winning holiday procession featuring everything you’d expect from a traditional parade, including galloping horses, lighted floats, marching bands, parade balloons and Santa. Even Rudolph-with-his-nose-so-bright will make an appearance in this gala celebrating all things Yuletide.
Stay in the Smokies
Whichever Smoky Mountains event you choose, consider staying at a Tennessee hotel with our special offer and learning all about vacation ownership. You’ll relax in comfort while you plan the rest of your vacation adventures.