gatlinburg ole smoky holler

Break out the cozy sweaters, pumpkin spice, and the apple pies — it’s fall in the Smokies! This is one of the most gorgeous times of the year to visit the Smoky Mountain area, as the mountains roar with bright autumn colors and exciting fall activities. Here are some of the best spots to view the foliage and soak up all there is to offer in the Smoky Mountains this fall season.

Dollywood Harvest Festival

pumpkin at Dollywood Harvest Festvial and LumiNights
Dollywood’s LumiNights

A truly extravagant celebration filled with lights and laughter, Dollywood goes all out for autumn. This event is jam-packed with exciting fall activities, and we recommend spending at least a couple of days at the park in order to see them all. During the festival, you can browse beautiful crafts made by artisans that travel to Pigeon Forge from all around the country. 

There’s also a grand festival of lights during this time of year called LumiNights– a whimsical display of thousands of carved and illuminated jack-o-lanterns arranged as sculptures throughout the park. In addition, don’t miss the incredible performances of talented musicians of the Southern Gospel Jubilee, a series of free concerts all included in admission to the park (September 27 – November 2, 2019). The food, lights, amusements and more are the most incredible celebration of the harvest season and one of the most fun things to do in the Smoky Mountains during the fall. 

Wears Valley Fall Festival

Wears Valley Fall Festival

This festival is fun for all ages and is the perfect place for some incredible traditional Appalachian entertainment. The Wears Valley Fall Festival runs for three days and features a diverse group of craftsmen, gospel singers, and lots of free kids fall activities like crafts, games, obstacle course, and more. The food is the real show stopper, with mouth-watering southern barbecue, steak on a stick, and crunchy gourmet candy apples! You will certainly not leave hungry and the memories from this special event will last a lifetime. Celebrate this special festival from October 18 – 20, 2019.

Ripley’s Fright Nights

Ripley's Fright Nights in Gatlinburg
Ripley’s Fright Nights at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure

Get ready to get spooky! Ripley’s Fright Nights are a special extra scary haunted house experience specific to the fall season. Not to be confused with the year-round Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, these nights are so much fun and incredibly creepy! Going on every weekend for the month of October, with a brand new show every week you can take the Halloween tour — if you dare. These events bring haunted houses to the next level. Live actors are lurking around every corner, shrieks and screams echo through the corridors, and your skin will crawl when you see what comes next. Ghosts and ghouls abound, these events are perfect for Halloween lovers or witches at heart. Be sure you’re mentally ready for this spooktacular experience!

Bush’s Chili Cookoff

Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff
Bush’s Chili Beans Chili Cookoff

Who doesn’t love fresh, hot chili? The Bush’s Chili Beans Chili Cookoff is a fun way to celebrate a much loved southern comfort food. Taste all the contenders’ chili and declare your favorite. Many other food vendors and free live entertainment are also going on during the cookoff, offering a little bit of something for everyone. Some popular local vendors include Alvin’s Kitchen, Savannah Bee Company, and much more offering all the fall favorites like apple cider, donuts, and candy apples. Mark your calendar for November 6, 2019, and bring your appetite!

Fall at The Island

Fall at The Island Pigeon Forge
Fall at the Island in Pigeon Forge

Looking for more fun fall activities? The Island comes alive during this season, as it’s eagerly decorated in the beautiful colors of autumn. This popular spot is already full of restaurants and unique shopping opportunities, and there really is something for everyone. Do you want one of the best views of the changing fall colors? The Island offers the beautiful views of the leaves from the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel– a giant Ferris wheel ride all ages will enjoy. Live bluegrass music can be heard as you smell the crisp fall air and take in the vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges all around you.  Celebrate autumn on The Island starting September 22, 2019, throughout the fall season.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

crafts at Gatlinburg Craftsmen's fair
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

The go-to place for craft lovers, check out over 180 artists and vendors at one the largest yearly gatherings of Smoky Mountain craftsmen. This is the fair’s 44th year of celebrating arts & crafts in the Smokies, and these established artisans do not disappoint. Bring home the perfect piece of Smoky Mountain art and learn about the local history along the way. Of course, there’s also a variety of country, bluegrass, and gospel music to help get you in the mood for browsing the art, ceramics, textiles, and so much more. This event happens during the most beautiful Smoky Mountain fall color displays. Don’t miss this event happening from October 10 – 27, 2019.

OktOBERfest at Ober

OktOBERfest at Ober in Gatlinburg
OktOBERfest at Ober Gatlinburg

A vibrant celebration, this month-long festival brings the spirit of Germany to the Great Smoky Mountains. Think schnitzel, bratwurst, strudel, turkey legs, pretzels, sauerkraut, and of course, beer! An outdoor beer garden awaits you and your friends for sampling some of the area’s finest brews. It wouldn’t really be an event without live music, but this celebration has a few uniques twists offering traditional Bavarian folk dances, oompah music, sing-a-longs, yodels, and more. There are plenty of opportunities to bring home souvenirs as well, so you won’t be going home empty-handed. We recommend grabbing a beer boot to bring home to remember this fun adventure in the Smokies, happening September 27 – November 3, 2019!

See Magnificent Smoky Mountain Fall Displays

Smoky Mountains in the Fall
Fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains

There’s nothing quite like the Smoky Mountains’ fall colors, and pictures really don’t do it justice. We encourage everyone to come visit us and see for yourself! There is a good chance you’ll be able to experience great views from your accommodations if you’ve planned it right, but if you’re craving more, some great leaf-peeping is always nearby. Some of our favorite spots include Cades Cove, Rainbow Falls, and anywhere in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you could also opt for a bird’s-eye view via zip line, the Space Needle of Gatlinburg, or the  Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. The fall activities and leaf viewing opportunities are endless in the Smokies!


For more awesome fall activities in the Smokies, check out our “Things to do in Pigeon Forge” and “Things to do in Gatlinburg” pages.

We hope you come to celebrate the fall season with us! We love seeing your beautiful photos of your time in the Smokies with your families. Be sure to tag us @mobilebrochure on Instagram. Happy autumn!

Content on this page is subject to change. Please contact the locations mentioned to see if promotions, hours, pricing, etc. are still valid.

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller is a native Tennessean who currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina. She loves spending time in the great outdoors, such as camping, hiking, and mountain biking. She also enjoys exploring all that the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

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