Few places in the Southeast are more charming at Christmas than a trip to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Set against the backdrop of the Great Smokies, this brainchild of country singer Dolly Parton has much to offer during the Christmas season. The Smoky Mountain Christmas festival appeals to all ages. Although there are many brilliant lights, the atmosphere still sings Appalachia and the Smoky Mountain region.
There are lights, parades and many holiday shows that will bring the traditional magic to children. The Christmas Festival opens annually in early November and finishes up each year on New Year’s Day. I have visited Dollywood many times over the years, and have found the Christmas visit is the most special. Cooler temperatures add to the overall nostalgic feel. I have found the summer months to be too hot to be really comfortable.
Santa’s Workshop at Dollywood
This is an amazing area to visit for young children and the young at heart. At Santa’s Workshop, Santa Claus welcomes boys and girls into his living room at the North Pole. In Santa’s house, visitors will find larger than life sized toys as well as an 18 foot Christmas Tree. Check out the giant wagon, sailboat, dollhouse and more. This is a perfect Christmas photo opportunity environment for your children. Santa’s living room is complete with a cozy fireplace and a desk for Santa. Through Christmas Eve, children can visit with Santa to share their Christmas wishes and write a letter to Santa as well.
Festive Christmas Shows and Musicals at Dollywood
There are many Christmas shows and musicals throughout the Dollywood amusement park. These are high production shows and include Christmas in the Smokies, Twas the Night before Christmas, O Holy Night, An Appalachian Christmas, Carol of the Trees and a gospel show called Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs. Every show is included in the park admission price.
One of the most popular shows, a 1.6 million dollar production and award winning stage production of Dollywood’s Babes in Toyland will have its farewell season in 2018. It is an adaptation of the family classic created especially for Dollywood. In it, the show unfolds in a small East Tennessee village on Christmas Eve. Plans are to offer something even bigger in 2018.
Christmas Light Shows and Parades at Dollywood
The brightly colored Christmas lights make Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas one of the most spectacular Christmas light shows in the Southeast. There are over four million lights that drape the park. Everyone loves a parade and at a Dollywood Christmas, there is a large parade daily through the Pigeon Forge amusement park. There are many floats and Christmas characters in the parade bedecked with flashing and colored lights.
Also be sure to check out the Carol of the Trees, where every night there is a large light show at the Rivertown Lake where the lights are synchronized to music. It is a seasonal symphony for the senses that all ages will enjoy.
Restaurants and Dining at Dollywood
The restaurants within the Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival and Park offer holiday dining at its best with several special buffets. There are special menu offerings to celebrate the holiday season. Diners at Aunt Granny’s restaurant will be able to dine daily with the Coca Cola Santa Claus each operating day. Some of the familiar favorites are oven roasted turkey, pulled ham and cornbread dressing.
There are other Christmas menu items to not be missed. They are only served during the Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas event and include the Spotlight Bakery’s 25 pound apple pies that come in four holiday flavors, which are cranberry walnut apple pie, brown sugar pecan apple pie, white chocolate apple pie and oatmeal and cranberry apple pie. You can purchase a whole pie to take home or just a slice to enjoy while at Dollywood.
Other Christmas Activities in the Pigeon Forge Region
All of the towns around the Smoky Mountains National Park have Christmas activities that will appeal to all ages. During this time the towns of Gatlinburg, TN, Sevierville, TN, Townsend, TN and Cherokee, NC have special Christmas events and activities. The Winter Magic Festival in Gatlinburg features millions of lights on The Parkway, the main street in town, as well as street performers and lighted trolley rides. In Gatlinburg, the Winter Magic Festival lasts through February of each year and would make a wonderful romantic Smokies weekend getaway for Valentine’s Day.
Pricing and Packages at Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
There are many overnight packages available so that the visit to Pigeon Forge can be experienced over a long weekend during holiday breaks. All admission prices to Dollywood include the Christmas shows and other attractions in the park. Individual ticket prices range from around $45.00 to $60.00. Season passes begin at around $65.00 for children and go up.
A season pass lasts for an entire year and is the best deal to visit Dollywood as much as you would like. Children three years and younger are admitted free of charge. Group pricing is available for groups of fifteen or more by contacting the staff of Dollywood directly. Finding Dollywood is easy once entering the Pigeon Forge area. There are signs everywhere directing visitors.