The holiday season has arrived in East Tennessee! Christmas lights adorn almost every house in the neighborhood. Kids line up to see Santa Claus at the mall.
The sounds of bell ringers float across grocery store parking lots. Gifts are piled underneath the Christmas tree, or they’re stuffed in a closet until Santa can deliver them on Christmas Eve. The first snow of the season has already come and gone, kindling hope for the rare phenomenon of a white Christmas.
Another East Tennessee tradition is already in full swing at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. Smoky Mountain Christmas sees the park completely transformed as millions of lights cover everything in sight. Special entertainment, food, and music all serve to make this our favorite time of year at the park. The festivities have also found their way over to Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort, where a massive Christmas tree greets visitors as they first arrive in the lobby.
Dreammore opened three years ago, and in that time we have only visited once before. This past week we stopped by for a one-night stay so we could enjoy everything the resort and Dollywood have to offer during the holidays. Stunningly beautiful any time of the year, Dreammore is transformed as lights, evergreen boughs, and other festive decorations adorn the lobby areas. Christmas trees surround the closed outdoor pool, with light displays synchronized to favorite holiday hits playing several times throughout the evening. We only wish that the decorations weren’t limited to the common areas, as they would really add a spark to the guest rooms. (There is the option to purchase a Christmas package that will ensure a Christmas tree is placed in your room, but we didn’t know of this until after checking out.)
While the main pool area and outdoor hot tubs are closed until summer, there is still so much to do at Dreammore during the Christmas season. The large indoor pool is open every day and staffed with a full-time lifeguard. Kids can have fun making crafts at the Camp Dollywood activities area, or stop by the game room for some arcade fun. Santa’s elves show up in the lobby each evening to lead holiday workshops by the warm fireplace; kids can make gingerbread men or write letters to Santa, among other activities. Adults need to swing by the spa, which has several holiday-themed packages available. The Song and Hearth restaurant is set to have special dinners on Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day. Saturdays sees Saint Nick himself show up to host a special breakfast the entire family can attend. Close out the day with S’mores by the fireplace as you listen to a master storyteller, or enjoy the serenade of holiday hits played live on the lobby grand piano.
When you’re ready to head over to Dollywood, don’t forget the benefits of staying at the resort! Stop by the concierge to pick up free Timesaver passes; these will let you skip ride lines, or get the best seats in the Christmas shows. If you don’t feel like parking in the park’s massive lot, board the Dreammore Trolley just outside the front door. You’ll disembark at the preferred parking entrance in less than five minutes and be ready to start your day of fun.
Apart from the lights, our favorite part of Smoky Mountain Christmas is the wonderful shows. This year is no exception, so we headed first to see It’s a Wonderful Life. The show was amazing, thanks in part to us getting front row seats thanks to our Timesaver passes. The musical brings the story of George and Bedford Falls to life in song and synchronized dance. Appalachian Christmas is held in the outdoor Back Porch Theater and features new and old Christmas tunes in bluegrass form. The renowned Kingdom Heirs gospel quartet sing carols throughout the day in Pines Theater. A cappella lovers will want to catch the Mistletones, another quartet which performs in the gazebo on Showstreet. Other classic shows include Christmas in the Smokies, O Holy Night, and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. We recommend calling the park ahead of time to see which shows are open, as several have been canceled due to illness of the cast members.
As night comes, the park’s four million lights transform the park into a magical winter wonderland. Families can head to Craftsmans Valley to meet Rudolf and friends at Holly Jolly Junction. Get a picture with Bumble, play some reindeer games, or decorate cookies to take home. Across the park in Country Fair, Santa has set up shop next to the Ferris wheel at Santa Land. He’ll be taking photos until December 23rd, then he has to return to the North Pole to get ready for Christmas.
Be sure to stick around for the highlight of the holiday celebrations: The Parade of Many Colors. Brightly-lit floats roll down Showstreet and through Adventures in Imagination as they are accompanied by a cast of lively characters. Don’t forget to grab some holiday-inspired treats before leaving. We love the wassail, hot chocolate, and gingerbread cookies the most, but there’s sure to be something for anyone’s tastes. If you plan on visiting, make those plans soon! Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas will only be around for two more weeks, as the park closes for the season on January third.