Top 8 Gatlinburg Events You Need to Experience This Year

Live Music at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Gatlinburg

Add a little extra fun and excitement to your next vacation to the area by planning your trip around one of these thrilling Gatlinburg events. Fun for all ages, we are sure you will love experiencing these fun things to do with your friends and loved ones.

1. New Year’s Eve at the Gatlinburg Space Needle

When looking for the perfect way to kick off the new year in downtown Gatlinburg, look no further than the annual New Year’s Eve celebration at the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Here, you and your family and group are invited to gather together, along with thousands of other friends and families, to ring in the new year with a fun-filled celebration.

A real party, during the event, city officials entertain the crowd with a ton of live music and a magic show, all leading up to attendees counting down the seconds to the new year with a ball drop and stunning fireworks display.

Wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains2. Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is a week-long event hosted in mid-April at the W. L. Mills Conference Center and various other venues in downtown Gatlinburg. This exciting 5-day event features a variety of wildflowers, fauna, and natural history walks that allow attendees to connect better with the area and learn about its history.

Click here for details for this year’s Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in Gatlinburg.

Gatlinburg's bean and cornbread blast festival3. Gatlinburg’s Beans and Cornbread Blast

Sponsored by Bush Brothers & Company, the owners of Bush’s baked beans, the annual Gatlinburg Beans & Cornbread Festival is one of the most unique Gatlinburg events throughout the year.

In addition to giving you the chance to sample some of the best cornbread and baked beans in the area, this event also features a culinary tour of the rich Appalachian history by showcasing delicious meals from yesteryear and today. When you have finished eating, be sure to check out the strolling musicians, antique engines, and all of the other fun things to do at this event.

synchronous fireflies at Elkmont4. Synchronous Fireflies at Elkmont

Did you know that the Smoky Mountains are the only place in the United States where you and your family can experience the beauty of synchronized fireflies? It’s true!

Every year at the beginning of the summer, thousands of fireflies gather in the Elkmont area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and put on a stunning light show with their twinkling bulbs. If you want to get technical, the light show is a mating routine where the male fireflies are trying to impress the female fireflies with how bright they can shine.

The synchronized fireflies event is one of the few Gatlinburg events that does require attendees to purchase tickets.

For more information about the synchronized fireflies at Elkmont, including tickets and dates, visit the National Park’s Website at

4th of July in Gatlinburg5. 4th of July in Downtown Gatlinburg

There is no better way to celebrate America’s birthday than at the annual 4th of July celebration in Downtown Gatlinburg. This event starts off with the first 4th of July parade in the country at midnight and concludes with a stunning fireworks display at the base of the Gatlinburg Space Needle.

The day’s festivities also include the annual River Regatta where contestants enter either a store bought or handmade floating craft into a race to see which one can make it from Christ in the Smokies to the Ripley’s Aquarium. This secondary event is great for families and children.

leather craftman in Gatlinburg6. Summer Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

Voted one of the ‘most popular events’ in the Southeast, the Summer Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair invites artisans from all across the country to display their goods and demonstrate their talents for all who attend.

If you can’t make the summer Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, don’t worry! There is another one in the winter as well.

That’s right, you and your family or group have not one but two chances to stroll through all of the constructed wares of the hundreds of talented artisans and craftsmen that call the area home.

Both of these Gatlinburg events are free to attend.

group enjoying Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg7. Ober Gatlinburg’s OktOBERfest

You don’t have to be of German descent to enjoy Ober Gatlinburg’s annual OktOBERfest! All you have to do is be ready to have fun and create new long-lasting memories with the friendly folks that work at the ski resort.

If you have never been, you are in for a real treat with the OktOBERfest event at Ober Gatlinburg. Here, you can expect to find tons of good music, delicious food, fun family-friendly activities, live music, and more!

Chili cookoff event in Gatlinburg9. Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cook Off

The Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cook Off is just the beginning of the exciting season-long event in Gatlinburg. During the event, attendees will be in awe as city officials ‘flip the switch’ to the millions of holiday lights that cover the city throughout the winter.

The holiday decorations and themed-festivities are not the only reason you and your family or group will want to visit this Gatlinburg event. There is also a ton of delicious homemade chili that you can sample. Even better, you and your loved ones get to vote on your favorite recipe to crown a winner for the year.

For more fun and memorable things to do in Gatlinburg this year, check out our Gatlinburg Events Calendar.

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