winter in the Great Smoky Mountains

It’s like clockwork. Every year around December, it’s showtime for Santa’s elves. Evidence of their efficient artistry can be seen all throughout Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The streets are lined with decorated evergreen wreaths and millions of dazzling lights. Illuminated snowmen and reindeer cast a red and green glow upon Christmas trees dressed up to the nines. Families wearing earmuffs and mittens blow on hot cocoa and dip into quaint boutique shops to escape the white flurries. Dancers, musicians, floats, and even the big red man himself take over downtown as the holiday parade gets into swing!

It’s no wonder the winter season is one of the best times of year to visit the Smokies. The festive mood is infectious, and there is no shortage of holiday-themed activities. Make your winter vacation as relaxing as possible, and book your stay at one of the best hotels in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg!

best hotels in Pigeon Forge, TN

Best Hotels in Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge is an excellent choice of basecamp, with family-friendly holiday events at Winterfest, Dollywood, and the local dinner theaters. Stay close to the action at one of the best hotels in Pigeon Forge:

  • The Inn On The River is conveniently located right around the corner from the Christmas Place store and on the Pigeon Forge Parkway. Your king or queen bedroom could have a cozy fireplace and/or balcony overlooking the Little Pigeon River. Plus, your booking could come with discount tickets to local attractions!
The Ramsey Hotel
  • If luxury is your middle name, look no further than The Ramsey Hotel, an upscale 4-star boutique hotel on the Parkway. Take advantage of the 24-hour indoor heated pool and hot tub, fireplace jacuzzi suites, and nightly popcorn and movie nights.
Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • You’ll be within walking distance of The Island while staying at Home2 Suites by Hilton. This all-suite hotel offers connecting rooms for large parties, plus pet-friendly and accessible accommodations – each equipped with a full kitchenette and Serta Suite Dreams beds and microfiber sheets.
best hotels in Gatlinburg, TN

Best Hotels in Gatlinburg

Just over the mountain ridge in Gatlinburg, holiday lights be-dazzle downtown from Anakeesta to Ober Mountain. Your winter vacation could lead you to the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show at the Gatlinburg Space Needle, or the winter wonderland views from Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. Make your home-away-from-home at any of the best hotels in Gatlinburg:

  • Just off the Parkway on the Historic Nature Trail, Hampton Inn is for those who enjoy a modern atmosphere while traveling with pets. Many of their pet-friendly and accessible rooms also come with a private balcony or fireplace. Plus, their competitive rates, free breakfast, and free WiFi will treat your wallet well.
Bearskin Lodge
  • Bearskin Lodge matches the mountain aesthetic with its gas fireplace suites, custom hickory furniture, and hardwood flooring. Stationed within walking distance to the shopping and dining of downtown Gatlinburg, you can catch views of the Gatlinburg Winterfest lights from your private balcony.
Courtyard by Marriott, downtown Gatlinburg
  • Courtyard by Marriott is one of the best hotels in Gatlinburg downtown, thanks to its diversity of amenities. Your stay at this sustainably-designed hotel comes with access to an indoor pool, hot tub, fire pit, fitness center, business center, and laundry facilities. Take advantage of free wifi and parking, plus a delicious dinner and breakfast with specialty Starbucks coffee at the on-site restaurant.

Can’t-Miss Holiday Shows

Finally, the fun part starts once you’ve checked into your hotel and gotten settled in. Did you know that packing presents onto Santa’s sleigh and putting up decorations aren’t the only ways a Christmas elf earns his keep? One elf must make the rounds to the Pigeon Forge dinner theaters and douse the stages in magical peppermint dust. The next thing you know, the actors are singing Christmas carols and the sets are dressed in wintery décor! Don’t miss out on the most festive dinner theater shows in Pigeon Forge.

  • Events at Dollywood – While most venues receive a whiff of peppermint dust, it’s as though Dollywood gets hit with a blizzard of it. Nowhere else in the Smokies glows with over 6 million lights – set up just for Smoky Mountain Christmas now through January 1, 2023. Each section of the park tells a different story through the lights and decorations, including polar bears, Santa’s Village, and a glorious 12-foot tall Christmas tree. After strolling through the fantasy lights, stay to catch seasonal holiday shows like “Christmas in the Smokies” and “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Hatfield & McCoy Christmas Disaster
  • Hatfield & McCoy Christmas Disaster – The Hatfield and the McCoys are two families of country cousins with the longest-standing feud ever seen in these mountains. Cheer on your chosen family as they attempt to settle the dispute with holiday singing and dancing, stunts, feats of strength, and absurd comedy!
Christmas at Dolly Parton's Stampede
  • Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede – Elves from the North and South Poles compete in a magnificent show of horse stunts, set in a winter wonderland of poinsettias, evergreens, holiday costumes and music, and brilliant lights. Catch the show and four-course feast now through December!
Comedy Barn Christmas
  • Comedy Barn – Known as a “night of a thousand laughs,” the clean comedy show at Comedy Barn turns festive with Christmas music and costumes. Get ready for extreme foolishness with this diverse cast of comedians, ventriloquists, jugglers, Christmas carolers, and even barnyard animals!

The snow-capped Smoky Mountains make an idyllic backdrop for the winter season. Plus, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge do their part to match with festivals, events, and dinner theater specials. Chase the holiday spirit to the mountains, where the magic touch of Santa’s elves washes over the region like a snowstorm. The best hotels in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge will ensure your wintry getaway is as comfy and cozy as your ugly Christmas sweater!

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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