Every year, with the changing of the seasons, the Smoky Mountains come alive with a host of festivals, fairs and food cook-offs. When you add to that the excitement of skiing, hiking and other Smoky Mountain adventures, you get a special time filled with family fun and romance that leaves you with a warm glow inside.
Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival
The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community declares itself, “The largest group of individual artisans in North America,” and you can find them at the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival. Lasting for weeks during September and October, visitors are amazed that practically every town in the Smokies is decked out for fall. Celebrations of all types take place during the festival including concerts, auto shows, rodeos, air shows and, of course, craft fairs.
Artisans and shop owners have handed down their crafts and skills for generations. During the festival, you will find paintings, woodcarvings, quilts, candles, pottery and more than you can imagine in the way of arts and crafts.
As you stroll up and down the streets of each quaint, little town, you'll be welcomed with a genuine, "Hey!" from local business owners. It's as if you've stepped back in time to a place where traditional craftsmanship has not been forgotten.
The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
Hailed as one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeastern United States” by the Southeastern Tourism Society, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair draws expert craftsmen and shoppers every year. The Craftsmen's Fair is held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, and has been around for over 30 years. Trying to get a head start on your holiday shopping? Then this is the place for you! There are over 200 booths to explore filled with unique, heirloom-quality items designed and created by master craftsmen. You are bound to find something special for everyone on your list, even those - especially those - who seem to have everything.
Not only will you enjoy the shopping and demonstrations from local craftsmen, but there is also live blue grass and country music to keep you entertained. Wear comfortable shoes and give yourself plenty of time to shop till you drop.
Gatlinburg Chili Cook-off
You will definitely work up an appetite after all that shopping, so make your way to the chili cook-off. Each November, there's a one-day showdown of more than 20 cooks stirring their pots with one-of-a-kind chili recipes. Beans or no beans? Hamburger or steak? Mild or grab-the-fire-extinguisher smokin'? Whatever your preference, you'll have a dizzying selection of chili to sample. When you're finished, cast your vote for the chili you think should receive the People’s Choice Award.
Winterfest In Pigeon Forge
From November to February, Pigeon Forge makes the transition from a mountain resort to a winter wonderland. Over five million lights are on display in the shapes of animals and nativities as well as draping virtually every building in town. Take a ride inside a toasty-warm trolley with someone special as the entire town twinkles before your very eyes. It will quickly put you in the holiday spirit!
A huge selection of Christmas shows in local theaters can also be found, from reenactments of the birth of Christ to Santa and his elves. With special events happening throughout Winterfest, you and your family can enjoy Wilderness Wildlife Week, a variety of storytelling events and more.
With so much to choose from, you'll find it hard to decide what to do first. Whether you like to shop, eat or just take in the beautiful scenery, it’s all here waiting for you in the Smoky Mountains!
Bennie McCann is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in overnight rental cabins in Pigeon Forge, TN. Visit the main website to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.