Five big fireworks on dark city sky

Pull out your American flags, your drink koozies, and your lawn chairs, because it’s time to celebrate America’s Independence!  Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are full of fun and festivities, and each city has a unique take on celebrating.

Gatlinburg starts out the day bright and early. Well, technically, it’s very dark. At the stroke of 12:01 a.m., the 42nd Annual Gatlinburg Fourth of July Midnight Parade starts off from traffic light #1A on East Parkway. Cheer amongst the nearly tens of thousands of other spectators as you watch what National Geographic Traveler Magazine named a “Top Ten Parade to see in the US.” Parking is available in the garage next to Ripley’s, traffic light #3, and other privately owned lots throughout the downtown area.

After the parade, you have just enough time to get some shut-eye and a good meal before heading over to the Christ in the Smokies bridge to witness (or participate in) the River Raft Regatta. Starting at noon, hand-made and pre-fab “floatables” will make their way up to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. There will be prizes in both categories (hand-made and pre-fab) for the top three, as well as awards for the youngest and oldest participant, and the most creative. If you’re interested in entering, you can build or buy something that will float and be at the starting bridge at 10 a.m.

Gatlinburg finishes off the day with a spectacular 20-minute fireworks display that can be seen best between traffic lights #3 and #5, which is near the Greystone Lodge on the River and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. If you stay the Greystone Lodge, you’re only a walk away from stunning views of the fireworks.

If you’d rather sleep in before enjoying festivities, then Pigeon Forge might be your destination to celebrate Independence Day. At noon, Patriot Park comes to life with a free kids’ carnival and a variety of food vendors, including barbecue and ice cream. Park for free, beginning at noon in the city parking area at the LeConte Center on Teaster Lane, and ride the free shuttle to Patriot Park.

You’ll see flags from all 50 states around the park as well as those supporting the branches of the armed forces.

Pull your lawn chairs out and enjoy the music of bluegrass as well as from headliners Thompson Square, and the Journey tribute band, Departure. At 9:30 p.m. the performances end, and at 9:45 p.m. the fireworks begin.

Whether you visit Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, has a host of excellent lodging locations listed to pick from. In Gatlinburg, you have the Greystone Lodge on the River, Old Creek Lodge, Edgewater Hotel & Conference Center, cabins, and more lodging options in Gatlinburg. In Pigeon Forge, you have the RiverStone Resort & Spa, Old Mill Lodging, Music Road Resort, cabin and condo rentals, and more lodging options in Pigeon Forge.

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

About April Sadowski

April Sadowski is a wife, mother of a toddler, and a travel junkie. She's a content author for the Smoky Mountain region and is always looking for the latest tip for making a vacation a memorable one.

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