5 Unforgettable Ways to Experience Christmas Day in Gatlinburg

Nov 30, 2018

If we're lucky enough to have you and your family around for the holidays this year you may be wondering what kinds of activities you all can do together on Christmas Day in the Smokies. Christmas Day does seem to leave the town in a little bit of a lull, though there's more open than meets the eye. We have done a little bit of digging to aid you in your holiday quest for Christmas Day fun! We have handpicked a few of our favorite must-do Christmas Day activities for you and your family to enjoy while vacationing with us in the Smokies.

5 Ways to Have An Unforgettable Christmas in the Smokies

1. Spend the Day at Anakeesta

Anakeesta is a magical park that rests atop Anakeesta Knob and is easily accessible from downtown Gatlinburg. During the holidays, Anakeesta's village is lit ever so brightly- So bright in fact that when the fog is frozen or it snows, the lights create a familiar ambiance and everything seems to glow like a light up snow globe. Anakeesta is accessed by a chondola as well as a chairlift located at the lift station across from Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.

2. Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland

Coming in at a cozy third place for Christmas lights (next to Winterfest/Winter Magic and Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas) in Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland. At Shadrack's, families pile into their automobile and tune their radio to a special station as they drive along and watch millions of incredible Christmas lights dance in synchronicity to the music.

3. Auto-Tour Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park would be a great holiday addition to your Christmas plans.  Plan to drive along Foothills Parkway, Newfound Gap, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and Cades Cove. Take the perfect family photo and enjoy a Christmas themed picnic or a mini hike. *Be sure to check road conditions before heading out as some roads may be closed in the upper elevations due to snow and ice.

4. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is a warm and rewarding place to be of Christmas Day. Visit the penguins at the Penguin Playhouse Exhibit, travel under the Shark Tunnel, wave to Sally the sea turtle, and get hands-on with some aquatic life!

5. Hit the Slopes at Ober Gatlinburg

Hit the slopes, ice skate, play ice bumper cars, snow tube, shop, and indulge in fun food and drink at Ober Gatlinburg. Take the Aerial Tramway to the top of Ski Mountain in the event of inclement weather or just for fun!


Photo Credit: Anakeesta via Facebook

Doug Shanks


By Doug Shanks a Smoky Mountain blogger and writes about things to do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley, and Sevierville, Tennessee. Area interests include hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting, shopping, and family fun.

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