By Darryl Payne
Posted on November 16, 2016
No matter what time of year you visit, there's always something happening in the Great Smoky Mountains. Every season brings its own special highlights, whether it's skiing Ober Gatlinburg in winter, outdoor food and music festivals in the spring and summer, or taking in the vibrant colors in fall. To help you plan your 2017 vacation, here's a year's worth of things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Play in the Snow at Ober Gatlinburg
In January the slopes are open and ready for fun. Ober Gatlinburg is a winter tradition, and this park has something for all ages. Whether you're an expert or novice, you can rent skis or a snowboard, or bring your own, and zip down one of the park's perfectly powdered hills. Feel like a kid again on the snow tubing hills, or bring the little ones and let them play in the Cubbies Snow Zone. When you're ready to warm up, you'll find plenty of hot food and drinks at the park's restaurants.
Indoor Fun at The Comedy Barn
When it's cold outside, everyone heads to The Comedy Barn, the most-attended clean comedy theater in the world. This variety show features magicians, ventriloquists, comedians, jugglers, and live music. Laughter is the best medicine for those end-of-winter blues, and this show is fun and appropriate for the whole family.
Celebrate Art at A Mountain Quiltfest
For more than two decades A Mountain Quiltfest has been celebrating the art and heritage of quilting. Every year quilters gather in the Smokies to take quilting classes, display their work, and compete for prizes.
Join the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage
Now in its 67th year, the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is a long-standing tradition in Gatlinburg. This five-day event features seminars, travelogues, trivia contests, and exhibits that explore the ecology, wildlife, and wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Go Celtic at the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival & Games
Each May, Maryville College plays host to the Scottish Festival & Games, a centuries-old tradition that started in the Scottish Highlands and now takes place in cities and towns all over the world. The festival includes traditional athletic competitions, music, and food, plus the opportunity to meet with experts who can help you uncover your own Celtic roots.
Celebrate Summer at Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales
Beginning in June, Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales is a summer-long street festival that takes place in Gatlinburg. Musicians, storytellers, and artisans in period costumes mingle with visitors and shoppers in downtown Gatlinburg, portraying characters from the 1800s. Taking in these street performances is an entertaining and educational way to spend a summer evening in the Smokies.
Join the 4th of July Fun at the River Raft Regatta
Each year Smoky Mountain visitors and locals gather at the Christ in the Smokies Bridge for a regatta like nothing you've ever seen. For this regatta, competitors make small rafts to race from the bridge to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Some rafts are elaborate and some are just plain fun.
Sing Along at Stringtime in the Smokies
Good music and summer nights go together like marshmallows and graham crackers. Visit Old Mill Square in Pigeon Forge for Stringtime in the Smokies, an annual event featuring the best bluegrass performers in the region.
Log Some Miles at the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon
One of most popular running events in the nation takes place the first weekend in September in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The race takes participants through gentle elevations and spectacular scenery.
Welcome Fall at the Smokey Mountain Harvest Festival
Get out your knitwear and grab a mug of cider - October means it's time for the Smokey Mountain Harvest Festival in Gatlinburg. This festival includes Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair, Ripley's Haunted Adventure, Shocktober at the Iris Theater, and more fun fall events around town.
Take Part in Tradition With Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede
Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede is a local tradition that truly kicks off the holiday season. The Stampede Arena is transformed with lights, falling snow, evergreens, and poinsettias, and features holiday-themed performances, games and a four-course meal.
See the Sparkle at Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights and Winterfest
Whether you choose Winter Magic in Gatlinburg or Winterfest in Pigeon Forge, you'll be treated to a holiday light extravaganza that you'll never forget. This is the grand finale in the Great Smoky Mountains, and it's a family tradition for both locals and visitors alike.
No matter what time of year you visit the Great Smoky Mountains, there's always something fun happening. Join in the local celebrations of each unique season and you'll experience the Smokies in a new way with every visit.
About Darryl Payne
Darryl Payne is a native of East Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He is a web developer with a passion for building great websites. As a local, he can offer a unique perspective on where to stay and things to do while on vacation in the Smokies. To read his latest recommendations, please click the Google+ follow button.