When you recall some of your fondest childhood memories of October, you probably remember the smell of decaying leaves mingling with warm apple treats in the oven. You might chuckle to yourself as you recall fighting your siblings over whose pumpkin carving design was scariest when in reality, the artwork of 8-year-olds wasn’t much to brag about. You probably still have memorized the route to the best houses for trick-or-treating, where a grandmotherly lady or kindly gentleman would give out gigantic Hershey bars and Reese’s peanut butter cups.
Those days may be long gone, but now you have the power to give special memories like those to your own kids. Further, you can whisk them away on a Halloween-themed getaway that they’ll never forget, even long after they’ve grown up and had kids of their own. The picturesque Smokies are a prime destination for the kinds of spooky Halloween festivities and kid-friendly attractions that make October that much more memorable.
Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg Halloween Events
You’re never too young or too old to dress up. Besides, half the fun of donning a costume is showing off your creative idea in public! These Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Halloween events are a unique way for scary sprites of all ages to come out and play.
Spooktacular Halloween Event
October 28, 2021
At the Pigeon Forge Community Center, children and adults are encouraged to show off their costumes! Vendors will have Halloween-themed displays, décor and interactive elements set up to create a non-scary environment for all ages. Families are encouraged to trick-or-treat for candy with Pigeon Forge’s local businesses. This free event also includes kid-friendly entertainment, such as a haunted house and costume contest.
Annual Trick or Treat Kickoff Karnival
October 31, 2021 | 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies hosts an afternoon of family fun to kick off your Gatlinburg Halloween, ending right in time for the start of trick-or-treating in downtown at 5 pm. Kids will love to participate in costume and pumpkin contests and play games to win prizes. Meanwhile, parents and adults will enjoy munching on food and people-watching to see all the fun costume ideas. Plus, the Gatlinburg Police Department and Gatlinburg Fire Department will give a helpful presentation on trick-or-treating and fire safety.
Spooky Things to Do in the Smokies
In Pigeon Forge, terrifying monsters push you onto thrill rides as you try to escape them. Meanwhile, in Gatlinburg, haunted houses lure you in by your curiosity, only to feed you to the demons lurking within. These spooky things to do in the Smokies get you into the “spirit” of Halloween…perhaps a bit too literally!
The 23rd Annual Ripley’s Fright Nights return to Ripley’s Haunted Adventure to scare the living daylights out of even the bravest audience members. The “Grimsby & Streaper’s Horror High” show runs every Friday and Saturday in October from 4 pm-11 pm and Sunday (including Halloween) from 1 pm-9 pm and costs no extra entry fees. If ghouls and ghosts aren’t enough to scare you, try facing the terrifying unknown while entrapped in the shadowy hallways of a dilapidated casket company. The two-story building at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure is full of life-like body bags, creepy coffins, live actors, and animatronics whose only wish is never to let you out alive. Find out why Ripley’s Haunted Adventure is the number one haunted house in Gatlinburg, if you dare!
Do you have the guts for an unguided tour through Gatlinburg’s oldest and most nightmarish mansion? Or will the bloody handprints on the walls, foul demons and rotting corpses be enough to haunt you for the rest of your life? Gatlinburg’s Mysterious Mansion beckons you to discover the curses within, from Monday through Thursday from 2 to 10 pm. Every Friday through Sunday of October from sundown to midnight, this haunted Victorian house also puts on a special Halloween show, “Orphanage of Tortured Souls.” Come for the goosebumps and the chilling screams, but once you come inside, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to escape…
Rocky Top Mountain Coaster is Tennessee’s longest coaster, zooming at a heart-racing 30 mph across 20 acres of stunning mountain scenery. While the coaster is open for year-round family fun, only in October can you experience Rocky Top’s Halloween special, “Coasts and Goblins.” Every Friday and Saturday of October, plus the 23rd through 31st, you can try to outrun the creepy smiling clowns and eerily cloaked figures, but they won’t let you get away! With every twist and turn, you’ll hurtle through foggy darkness at your own manually controlled speed, only to encounter spooky skeletons, live actors, and other Halloween decorations illuminated in colorful lights. Better hold on as if your life depends on it — because it does!
After witnessing so many grotesque zombies and mutated creatures on your Halloween adventures, you might start thinking you need to brush up on your shooting skills. Rowdy Bear Ridge Laser Gun Coaster has got you all set up. Equipped with laser guns, you’ll get your much-needed target practice as the two-seat suspended coaster skyrockets over the mountain ridge. The first alpine flyer in North America, Rowdy Bear Ridge Laser Gun Coaster is an excellent non-scary attraction to try with kids this October. While you’re there, check out the rest of the family-friendly adventures of Rowdy Bear Ridge Adventure Park, including a variety of thrilling activities like roller coasters, axe throwing, tubing, and more.
Family-Friendly Lodging Options
Halloween is really all about the kids. That said, you’ll need to find lodgings that can easily and comfortably accommodate your whole family. The Hampton Inn of Pigeon Forge is a fantastic choice for families, offering one-bed and two-bed king and queen suites, plus accessible options. Look forward to relaxing after a full day of adrenaline-pumping scares at the outdoor, indoor, and activity pools, hot tub, and Back Porch lodge area. Your stay comes with free WiFi, free parking, and complimentary hot breakfast each morning. The Hampton Inn is close to major Pigeon Forge attractions like The Island, Dollywood, and Rowdy Bear Ridge.
Would you rather stay somewhere closer to Gatlinburg? The Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg is just around the corner from downtown Gatlinburg attractions like the Space Needle, the Convention Center, the SkyLift Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This newly renovated hotel comes with all the upscale amenities you could want for your downtime, including in-suite whirlpool tubs and fireplaces, private balconies, an indoor heated pool, an outdoor hot tub, and fitness and business centers. Plus, the Hilton Garden Inn is Tennessee’s first L.E.E.D. certified hotel, a leader in green features that reduce waste, energy and water usage.
The ghostly, mist-covered mountains of the Smokies lend themselves well to the mystique of Halloween. In turn, the events and activities in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg only add to the spooky aesthetic. At the trick-or-treating events, you’ll watch with pride as your toddler says “thank you” after each time receiving candy. After a round of haunted houses in Gatlinburg, you’ll come away with hilarious stories of your teenager screaming like a small child just at the first sight of live actors. The spine-chilling thrill rides will have your family ardently discussing battle tactics in case of a real-life apocalypse of zombies and scary monsters. Though your Halloween vacation in the Smokies may only last a few days, all these little moments add up to sweet family memories that will someday inspire your kids to continue on those Halloween traditions in their own ways.
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