Christmas is almost here! With only twelve days left of our favorite time of the year, we will no doubt be busy wrapping presents, cooking delicious dinners, and bringing down our Christmas decorations from the attic.
While it may seem that all our time is taken up between work and preparing for the influx of family members who will soon be crowding your home, sometimes you just need to take a break from all the hustle and bustle and spend an evening reliving favorite Christmas traditions. Our favorite is the almost weekly visits we make to Dollywood Theme Park during their Smoky Mountain Christmas event.
Running from November all the way to January first, the annual holiday tradition sees the park decorated with over four million festive holiday lights. This is enough reason to visit in itself, as we have spent countless hours just wandering the park to marvel at the beautiful displays. On Showstreet and throughout the lower portion of the park, almost every building is lit up like the Griswolds’ house. Flickering butterflies line the walkways throughout Adventures in Imagination, while Timber Canyon is home to the Timber Canyon Festival of Lights. Here the park’s largest Christmas tree puts on a fabulous light show accompanied by a score of favorite Christmas Carols.
One of our favorite areas has to be Jukebox Junction, where the storefronts are decked out in vintage C9 bulbs and rock-n-roll Christmas hits fill the air. While here you must stop by Lightning Rod, the park’s newest and best thrill ride. Throughout the past season it has had more downtime than up, but it appears that the park has finally worked out all the kinks on the world’s fastest wooden coaster. The launch directly up the lift hill still gets us every time. Night rides are out of this world, as the majority of the coaster races through the wooded hillsides outside the park’s boundary, so riders have no ideas what is coming next.
If you brought the kids, Dollywood has fun areas with families just in mind! Holly Jolly Junction, located in Craftsmen’s Valley, gives everyone the chance to meet our favorite red-nosed reindeer and the other characters from Rudolf! The kids can make their own cookies, play some reindeer games, and have their picture taken inside a snow globe or with the adorable Bumble! Down in the Country Fair, Santa and his elves have set up shop in Santa Land! Children can create special Christmas crafts before meeting Santa himself in this holiday wonderland. Just keep in mind that this portion of the event ends December 23, as Santa has to get back to the North Pole before Christmas.
Dollywood is best known for their great shows which play a starring role throughout Smoky Mountain Christmas. Classic shows such as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and O’ Holy Night return once again, as does a new and larger version of Christmas in the Smokies, now playing in the Celebrity Theater. Musical experiences await with nightly shows by The Kingdom Heirs and the a cappella group known as the Mistletones.
Alas, we no longer get to see Dolly play the Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol, but this year Dollywood rolls out a new take on a Christmas classic as It’s a Wonderful Life hits the stage. While we’ll miss Dolly’s hologram, the new performance is a great addition to the Christmas show lineup and sure to become a favorite with guests both young and old.
Also new for this year is Parade of Many Colors, inspired by Dolly’s hit song and her new NBC movie, “Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love.” The new light-covered floats are beautiful and play a mix of classic Christmas songs with some of Dolly’s own numbers thrown in. Interactive characters stop along the way to say hi and speak with visitors. Best of all, Santa himself leads the festive band as they march through the streets. The parade begins at 8:00 P.M. every night and starts in the Village behind the carousel before heading through Rivertown Junction, past Market Square, down Showstreet, and finally passing by Dolly’s Chasing Rainbow Museum in Adventures in Imagination. It’s best to line up early, as the parade is extremely popular and the route fills up quickly.
While you are enjoying the park, don’t be surprised if you catch the occasional whiff of smoke. The Gatlinburg fires came just a few hundred feet away from the park, and while some of the Dollywood Cabins were destroyed, the park we know and love was spared from any damage. While you enjoy the park, please remember those who have been touched by this tragedy and consider donating to Dolly’s The My People Fund. So far Dolly and thousands of others have raised over two million dollars to help those who are homeless as a result of the fires. For more information on how you can help, please visit DollywoodFoundation.org.