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27th annual Winterfest lights up the Smoky Mountains
By Jeaneane Payne

Taking the stage at Sevierville's Winterfest Kickoff were area business and the Sevierville Police Department competing with costumes and dancing. Image by Jeaneane Payne.

Sevierville lit up with millions of festive holiday lights on Nov. 7th to kick off the 27th annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest. Area businesses, organizations, and churches displayed information about their products or services under tents. Sevier County Electric System provided free hot chocolate while some organizations gave away free cotton candy and popcorn to the nearly 7,000 visitors. On stage was a costume and dancing contest between local businesses along with an outstanding performance by the 3D Studio of Dance & Fitness followed by a fireworks display. Winterfest runs from Nov. 7, 2016 through Feb. 28, 2017. For many families and couples, this popular event in the Smokies tops off their holiday celebrations.

Between now and Christmas, visitors can experience a multitude of special events, unique shopping, Christmas shows, and many attractions. After Christmas, there are New Year’s Eve celebrations throughout Sevier County. From January through February, exciting events have been planned to give visitors another excuse to visit the Smoky Mountains.

Millions of Winterfest lights line the roadways beginning at the Sevierville exit off Interstate 40 and continuing through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, all the way to the entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

applewood farmhouse restaurantApplewood Farmhouse Restaurant is a must stop during Smoky Mountain Winterfest. Image by Jeaneane Payne.

Begin your Winterfest celebration by making a stop at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, a six room farmhouse located in the heart of Sevierville, Tennessee. Rocking chairs line the front porch where you can sit a spell and enjoy the serenity of the valley before indulging in down-home southern favorites. Step inside, and you’ll receive a warm greeting. Your meal will include Applewood Apple Fritters® served with homemade apple butter, and Applewood Julep®.

applewood farmhouseDuring our Winterfest media tour last week, Applewood served up a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with its sales manager, Phil Glass as our host. Chef Roman Campbell carved our turkey table side as manager of 32 years Gary “Bear” Ledford stood by to provide true Southern hospitality. Thanksgiving dinner can be ordered from Applewood for pickup. A dinner feeds up to 8 people and include a 12 lb roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato casserole, turkey gravy, cornbread sausage dressing, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and one gallon of sweet tea — all fully cooked with re-heating instructions — and only $99.00 plus tax. Order by Friday, Nov. 18. To pre-order, call 865-429-5700 ext 13. Pickup times are Wednesday, Nov. 23 from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm and on Thursday, Nov. 24 from 8:00 am until 12:00 noon.

Christmas Dinner will be served at Applewood from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm. The menu includes Applewood Apple Fritters® served with homemade apple butter, and Applewood Julep®, Vegetable soup, roast prime rib of beef au jus, apple glazed sugar cured ham, roast turkey with gravy, cornbread sausage dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cinnamon apples, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, fresh baked dinner, rolls, and red velvet cake or coconut cake. Reservations are required by calling 865-428-1222, option 3. For more information, visit

While you’re still in Sevierville, you will find lots of great shopping venues, including 150 name brand outlet stores, art galleries, crafts stores, boutiques, antiques and collectibles, and unique shops. You can even take a piece of Winterfest home by visiting stores like Country Christmas & Collectibles where Winterfest style lighting displays are for sale and custom displays are built to order.

shadracks seviervilleA lights display at Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at Smokies Stadium. Image by Jeaneane Payne.

As you head down the highway to Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at Smokies Stadium, stop off at the Sevierville Visitor Center on Hwy 66 (1.5 miles from I-40 Exit 407) to purchase a 2016-17 Winterfest souvenir t-shirt to commemorate your visit. You’ll also receive a free pair of Winterfest in 3D glasses, which shift points of light into snowflakes, with your t-shirt purchase while supplies last.

From Nov. 4 through Jan. 8, visit Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at Smokies Stadium for a 1.5 mile drive through LED light experience (one of the largest in the world). There are extras for the kids, including photos with Santa (beginning after Thanksgiving) and delicious holiday foods. For more information and pricing, visit

Too many Christmas cookies? Put some jingle in your step and sign up for the Tennessee Smokies’ Holiday Midnight 5K on Dec. 10 or run in the Santa Hustle Half Marathon & 5K on Dec. 11

Splash away at an indoor water park resort, like Wilderness at the Smokies – where special holiday events include swimming with Santa, workshop crafts and more — or The Resort at Governor’s Crossing. You might want to choose from 100’s of great cabins at

Sevierville Winterfest Events so far include:
November 4 – January 8 – Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at Smokies Stadium
November 5 – January 1 – Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
November 12 – Veteran’s Day Weekend Cruise In at The DINER – classic car cruise in
December 3 – Sevierville’s 54th Annual Christmas Parade – 11am in historic downtown Sevierville
December 10 – Tennessee Smokies’ Holiday Midnight 5K
December 11 – The Santa Hustle 5K & Half Marathon
February 25 – Rose Glen Literary Festival

The Winterfest Kickoff in Pigeon Forge is Tuesday, Nov. 8 and on Wed., Nov. 9 in Gatlinburg.

The fun continues through February with great Winterfest events like the 7th Annual Rose Glen Literary Festival on Feb. 25. This year’s line-up of speakers includes the New York Times Best Selling team of Jefferson Bass (authors of the Body Farm Novels series), June Hall McCash (Almost to Eden, Marguerite’s Landing), and, tentatively, Ben Montgomery (Grandma Gatewood’s Walk) and Jim Stokely (Wilma Dykeman’s son) presenting Family of Earth: A Southern Mountain Childhood. This manuscript was written by Wilma Dykeman while living in a stone cottage in the English Mountain area of Cocke County during the final months of World War II. During that time, she narrated a radio series in Knoxville in which she tried to explain the progress of the war to listeners. The manuscript was discovered after her death in 2006. The event is free to attend and keynote luncheon tickets are only $20. Learn more at

New for Winterfest 2016-2017:
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas: $2.5 million Parade of Many Colors and debut of the classic It’s A Wonderful Life. Smoky Mountain Christmas just won its 9th consecutive Golden Ticket Award for Best Christmas Event.
• Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies: $1 million, 3-story tree house and play center with bridges, slides and obstacle course
• Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland: Debuts new Santa’s Safari (half mile of largest most vibrant displays this award-winning show has ever presented) cutting-edge technology/drive-thru light experience all synchronized to music
• The Island in Pigeon Forge: $1.5 million one-of-a-kind seasonal experience/40,000 ornaments/300,000 lights/5,000 feet of garland/ 3 massive trees/23-acre property. Carolers, Santa & Mrs. Clause at Santa’s Workshop, Paula Deen tree lighting-Nov. 26th and New Year’s Eve Celebration Dec 31st
• Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure Dinner & Show: Competition among lumberjack families set in the 1800’s. Fast-paced, high-energy Christmas Spectacular with acrobatic agility and aerial spectacle/newest addition to holiday entertainment in the Smokies

Other Winterfest Highlights:
• Tanger Outlets Sevierville: additional light displays, toy soldiers and giant Christmas trees for your winter shopping experience/enjoyment
• Christmas at Smoky Mountain Opry: Multi-Million Dollar Christmas production featuring — Flying Sugar Plum Fairies/Live Animals/Dancing Elves/Ice Skating
• The Titanic Attraction’s 4th: Annual Thanksgiving fireworks spectacular on Thursday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m.
• Inn at Christmas Place: Great-great-grandson of literary master Charles Dickens, Gerald Charles Dickens performs his one-man enactment of A Christmas Carol.
• Ober Gatlinburg: Snow Skiing, ice-skating, snow tubing, mountain coaster. Snow tubing opens Nov. 19th

Additional Classics/Favorites:
• The Old Mill, Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community, The Village in Gatlinburg, Christmas at Dixie Stampede, The Incredible Christmas Place, AppleBarn and Cider Mill, Tanger Outlets Sevierville
• Over 15 million sparkling lights and 25 miles of light displays adorn the streetscapes throughout Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg
• Trolley tours of Winterfest lights (Gatlinburg) and self-guided Winterfest light maps are available to ensure your full enjoyment
• Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains Features: Parades, Fireworks, Special Events, Trolley Light Tours, Festivals, Music, Shows, Attractions, Entertainment, Shopping, Dining and So Much More
• Over 100 festive shows and fun-filled family attractions are sure to entertain throughout Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg

Other Special Events:
November 12
Old Mill Square Holiday Open House
The Old Mill Square Holiday Open House is the perfect time to sample a bit of down home southern cooking and to shop. Pay a visit to the general store, pottery store, and even the toy bin.

November 19
Holiday Homecoming
Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center
Townsend, TN

November 22-27
Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show
Unique handcrafted Thanksgiving gifts made by members of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community are offered for sale at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

November 22-27
Festival of Trees
Surrounded by the twinkling lights and sounds and smells of the holidays, shop the many handmade centerpieces and craft items, and return to the joys of celebrating Christmas in the Smokies. Gatlinburg Convention Center.

November 24
Fireworks on Thanksgiving at the Titanic
The night sky will be ablaze in colorful bursts of light and fantasy during the Titanic Museum Attraction's annual fireworks extravaganza honoring the lives and legacies of the ship's passengers, crew and rescuers. It will be the largest fireworks event of the year. Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge fireworks display is a way for us to pay tribute to the 2,208 passengers, crew and rescuers.

November 26
Tree Lighting at The Island
It’s tree-lighting time at the Island in Pigeon Forge. Be there on Nov. 26 for an evening of holiday fun that includes live entertainment and the annual tree-lighting ceremony, with special appearances by Paula Deen and Santa. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. and admission is free.

November 27 - December 17
Winter Smoky Mountain Tunes And Tales
Through the holiday season, visitors can meet characters and storytellers and enjoy caroling along the Parkway Friday and Saturday evenings during this annual event!

November 28 - December 4
Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show
Unique handcrafted gifts made by members of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community are offered as they host their annual Christmas show at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

December 2
Fantasy Of Lights Christmas Parade
The award winning 41st Annual Christmas Fantasy of Lights Parade will step off at 7:30pm in downtown Gatlinburg.

December 3
Breakfast or Brunch with Santa
A true fantasy for children, parents, grandparents and many others is to enjoy breakfast or brunch with Santa and Mrs. Clause! This dream is possible and the place for this adventure to happen is at The Old Mill Square in Pigeon Forge.

December 3
Sevierville 54th Annual Christmas Parade
Downtown Sevierville

December 7-10
Christmas in the Smokies Bluegrass Festival
Come join artists old and new for this one of a kind celebration of bluegrass during the holiday season. You may purchase your tickets at the door at the Ramada Inn Convention Center, Pigeon Forge TN starting Tuesday December 8th from 2-5 PM and Wednesday December 9th starting 2 PM throughout the festival.

December 10
Smokies Holiday 5K
Smokies Baseball Stadium

December 31
New Years Eve at The Island
Live music & plenty of family fun, plus attractions. New Years Celebration with a midnight countdown and fireworks.

December 31
New Year's Eve Ball Drop And Fireworks Show
Gatlinburg will welcome the arrival of 2016 in unique style with its 28th Annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show around the intersection of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail at the base of the Space Needle late Thursday night, December 31.

January 29-31, 2017
Tennessee Winter Special Olympics
Watch and cheer as Special Olympics athletes strive for the gold in their annual Winter Games competition.

Smoky Mountain Winterfest websites:,

For more information about visiting Sevierville and the Great Smoky Mountains during Winterfest, contact the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce. 1-888-SEVIERVILLE (738-4378) or (865) 453-6411 or online at

Published November 7, 2016

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