It’s Christmas time in the Smokies! While the last of autumn’s colorful displays may still cling to the more tenacious trees in the valley, we’re already wishing for the first snowflakes of winter. The Thanksgiving turkey is still in the deep freezer and yet Christmas trees are up, Chex mix is being made, and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” seems impossible to escape no matter where you go. Leading the Christmas invasion is Dollywood Theme Park, which just last week kicked off the 28th season of Smoky Mountain Christmas!
This is by far our favorite festival at the park and one we look forward to as the year draws to a close. Over the seasons the event has grown to include over four million lights, a nightly parade, shows, specialty foods, and even a chance to visit with Santa and Rudolf! This year promised to be the best yet as Dollywood rolled out plans for the largest expansion since the event started all those years ago, and it doesn’t disappoint!
Homegrown star Dolly Parton herself came to kick off the event by lighting the park’s enormous new Christmas tree. Standing in Wilderness Plaza, it serves as the centerpiece of Glacier Ridge, the largest part of the expansion that stretches from the front entrance of the park all the way through Wilderness Pass to Craftmans Valley. Visitors ascending the pathway to Timber Canyon will find that an extreme cold spell has brought the arctic to the Smoky Mountains. A mesmerizing tunnel of lights known as the Arctic Passage will bring guests to Drop Line Bay. The frozen waters around Drop Line and Thunderhead have been taken over by polar bears who have ventured to the Smokies to visit their southern neighbors.
As visitors make their way to the plaza they’ll be amazed at the number of new light displays that cover everything in sight. Glacier Ridge is composed of over one million new lights, bringing Smoky Mountain Christmas’s current light count to over five million! Guests will want to linger in Wilderness Plaza to watch the amazing show soon to come. Every thirty minutes the fifty-foot tall tree comes to life with a synchronized display accompanied by favorite holiday tunes. Be sure to keep an eye out for Joe the Juggler as he wanders plaza looking for new crowds to cheer on his amazing talents.
Another unique element of Glacier Ridge waits at the upper end of Craftman’s Valley. As guests round the bend past Tennessee Tornado, they’ll see the aurora borealis dancing across the sky. Music and light combine to bring the northern lights to Tennessee in an awe-inspiring presentation.
Glacier Ridge is sure to become an annual favorite for all of us, but don’t forget everything else Smoky Mountain Christmas has to offer! There’s still four million lights spread throughout the rest of the park to enjoy. Be sure to stop by Rudolph’s and Friends, located in Craftman’s Valley, for all kinds of fun. You can take your photo with Bumble, decorate Christmas cookies, or play some reindeer games. Santa’s waiting for you in his workshop down at the Country Fair. Be sure to visit him as soon as you can because he’ll be leaving early to get back to the North Pole in time for Christmas.
Time and again Dollywood has been recognized for their amazing shows. Smoky Mountain Christmas is no exception, as the park rolls out five holiday performances. It’s a Wonderful Life brings the classic story of George Bailey to the stage for a new generation of families to enjoy. Don’t forget to stop by the Showstreet Palace Theater to catch our favorite show, Christmas in the Smokies. Other productions include Appalachian Christmas, O’ Holy Night, and ’Twas the Night Before Christmas.
The spirit of the season takes over the park’s other shows as well. Dolly’s family spices up their musical numbers with a repertoire of holiday hits in My People, My Music, while Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs showcases cherished carols from Dollywood’s award-winning gospel quartet. Walking down Showstreet, you might just catch the joyful a cappella tunes of the Mistletones. Each evening ends with the spectacular Parade of Many Colors. Be sure to grab some holiday treats before snagging your spot along the parade route. Hot cocoa, gingerbread cookies, and wassail are even more reasons we love this time of year at Dollywood.
For more information on Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, visit https://www.dollywood.com/themepark/festivals/Smoky-Mountain-Christmas. Those who plan on purchasing a season pass for 2019 can also take advantage of a special promotion going on right now. Guests who purchase a 2019 season pass get free admission to the park for the entirety of Smoky Mountain Christmas, all the way until January 4th! Now you’ve got no excuse to not see the best Christmas event in the nation! Visit https://www.dollywood.com/Tickets/Season-Passes for more information.