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Spend your 12 days of Christmas (or longer) with these special celebrations of the season in Tennessee. From live reindeer to millions of lights, the state is filled with holiday cheer.
*Dates reflect 2023/24 celebrations
Speedway in Lights is the largest holiday light show in the region Nov. 17, 2023 - Jan. 6, 2024 at Bristol Motor Speedway's Bristol Dragway Entrance on Highway 394 (not on Volunteer Parkway). Approximately four miles and 2 million lights captivate visitors. Other activities include the Christmas Village and The Ice Rink, the only ice skating rink with a 90-minute driving radius of Bristol Motor Speedway.
Explore the free, family-friendly Candy Land Christmas display in downtown Johnson City. The winter wonderland features more than 150 brightly lit, 12-foot Christmas trees in December 2023. Special events include the Grand Christmas Tree Lighting and Small Business Saturday; the Sip, Shop and Stroll featuring local boutiques and businesses, the Christmas Parade ; the Holiday Market and the Jingle 5K.
The holidays are merry and bright at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Start your holiday season with the acclaimed vocal country music group, Home Free at their concert Home Free for the Holidays Dec. 2, 2023. Rhythm of the Dance: Christmas Special features world-champion dancers, musicians and star vocalists who take audiences on a special holiday journey Dec. 15, 2023. And, enjoy world-renowned tenor vocalist David Phelps in his It Must Be Christmas concert Dec. 17, 2023.
Holiday events in the Smokies
The Great Smoky Mountains are your background for the annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest Nov. 9, 2023 through Feb. 18, 2024 that includes Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. More than 15 million lights and displays line the Parkway for a magical experience. In Sevierville, Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland illuminates your drive with lights dancing in perfect rhythm to Christmas music played over your radio. SkyLand's Festival of Lights at the Ranch has up to 1 million lights Nov. 3-Feb. 18, 2024 6-9 p.m. including light-up cowboy scenes, nativity scene, a 25-foot LED Christmas tree, light tunnel and more. In Pigeon Forge, enjoy the new Winterfest Wonders of Light Walking Trail with 20 new light displays along the city's Riverwalk nature trail. Set to music, the displays include walk-thru arches, a 52-foot-long caterpillar, larger-than-life flowers, an enchanted forest with seven-foot-tall mushrooms, shooting stars and more. In Gatlinburg, you can do a self-guided Trolley Ride of Lights to see all the holiday decorations around town from the comfort of your car. Check out the stops from the app. On Dec. 1, Gatlinburg hosts the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, an award-winning celebration that has delighted over 20 million people from around the world. Grab a spot along the route as floats, dancers, marching bands and balloons make their way through downtown Gatlinburg.
Experience America's longest pedestrian suspension bridge in a whole new way Nov. 9, 2023 - Jan. 31, 2024 as Gatlinburg SkyPark is decked out for the holidays with more than 60,000 lights coordinated to classic Christmas music. Photo opportunities abound like at the 32-foot tree. Marvel at the lights that span the entire length of the SkyBridge and thousands of new Christmas lights around the property. The "Lights Across Gatlinburg" gives you access to the SkyBridge during the day where you can experience the Tulip Tower which offers mountain views on each level while telling an inspiring story of renewal and rebuilding after the 2016 wildfires. Then, you can return at night to see the park twinkle with holiday cheer at no additional cost.
Your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains is made even more magical at Enchanted Christmas at Anakeesta. Celebrate the season with tens of thousands of twinkling Christmas lights throughout the mountaintop Firefly Village. Music from the stage at Black Bear Village, glimmering lights in the forest along the TreeTop SkyWalk and tens of thousands of lights programmed to music in the Arctic Alley will make your Christmas season merry and bright.
Dollywood, Tennessee's No. 1 attraction, lights up like a Christmas tree Nov. 4, 2023 to Jan. 6, 2024. With more than 6 million dazzling lights, Smoky Mountain Christmas is a family favorite in the Great Smoky Mountains. A unique way to see all of the lights is aboard the Dollywood Express Light Experience. The classic train ride takes you and your family from land to land, watching the twinkling lights and hearing classic Christmas tunes. Meander to Glacier Ridge to see the Christmas Light Show set to symphonic music, a unique walk-through of the Aurora Borealis, and lots of illuminated displays and colorful lights. Christmas stories unfold onstage, celebrating family, song and tradition. Enhance your holiday at Dollywood's new HeartSong Lodge & Resort.
The Incredible Christmas Place, a more than 2,000-square-foot complex filled with any and all holiday decor you could imagine, opens Santa's Haus this holiday season. Christmas-themed activities for children and children at heart include story time with Santa, photo-ops, cookie decorating, ornament making and arts and crafts. Keep an eye on their website 2023 plans.
Holiday events in Knoxville and surrounding areas
Knoxville is stuffed with holiday activities that'll delights kids and kids at heart. Santa's Scout Elves land in Knoxville to begin the The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition Nov. 24, 2023 through Jan. 8, 2024. Pick up a North Pole Pass at Mast General Store or Visit Knoxville to help guide your scavenger hunt. See the downloadable version here. Spend a day (or three) following the Peppermint Trail Nov. 24, 2023 - Jan. 7, 2024 to discover peppermint specials at downtown bakeries, coffee shops, bars, restaurants and boutiques, illuminated with peppermint-themed lighting displays. Additional events in the city include the Regal Celebration of Lights Nov. 24, 2023 which includes the lighting of the 42-foot Christmas tree on Market Square; ice skating on Knoxville's open air ice skating rink Nov. 24, 2023 - Jan. 2, 2024; and the WIVK Christmas Parade starting on Gay Street and ending at Magnolia Avenue. The parade will feature lighted floats, dancers, characters and Santa Claus.
Experience the winter celebration, Candlelight Christmas at Museum of Appalachia that showcases pioneer holiday traditions Dec. 15-16, 2023. The popular event, Candlelight Christmas includes old-fashioned decorations in authentic log cabins, an evening tour of the Museum's pioneer village, family-friendly activities, local artisans and craftspeople, storytelling, a live nativity, wagon rides, and music. See demonstrations from spinners, weavers, blacksmiths and more.
Ghosts of the Past at Christmas - Huntsville
Did you know it's long been a tradition to tell ghost stories at Christmas? At the Historic Scott County Jail in Huntsville, the tradition lives on with the "Ghosts Of The Past At Christmas" haunted history walk and jail tour. On select nights in December, take a historic walk through Huntsville, complete with Christmas lights, Christmas spirits and a flashlight tour of the jail. Book your tour today as tickets must be purchased in advance.
Holiday events in Chattanooga
Holiday dreams come true with over one million lights featuring never-before-seen views, themes and activities during the Enchanted Garden of Lights Nov. 17, 2023 - Jan. 6, 2024 at Rock City. Explore the gardens by night as your pathway is illuminated with holiday light displays and ambient live music. See a design reminiscent of the Aurora Borealis in The Arctic Kingdom, illuminated trees in the Magic Forest, visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, meet the Toy Soldier, do some holiday shopping in The Christmas Shoppes and so much more.
Holidays Under the Peaks at Tennessee Aquarium - Chattanooga
Celebrate the season at Holidays Under the Peaks at Tennessee Aquarium. Spot SCUBA Claus in the River Journey building. He'll float among enormous fish in the River Giants exhibit in the Tennessee River gallery, waving hello and listening to Christmas requests. Social media c-EEL-ebrity Miguel Wattson is the aquarium's designated tree lighter, illuminating the tree made possible by yuletide tech in the Rivers of the World gallery. Catch a screening of The Polar Express 3D during the annual PJs and Polar event and more.
Christmas events in Nashville and surrounding areas
Christmas is heralded in with the lighting of a 40-foot tree in the center of Dogwood Park in Cookeville. The holiday weeks are filled with Christmas-inspired activities ranging from downtown carriage rides, meet and greets with Santa, concerts, Christmas Movies in the Park and the Christmas Forest exhibit at the Cookeville History Museum. While in the area, check out Monterey, Tennessee's Christmas Home & Hearth Celebration; the more-than-50-year-old evening Christmas Parade through downtown Cookeville; and the drive-through light attraction Hidden Hollow Lights that is open Thanksgiving evening through New Year's Day.
Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights are set to music in the Dancing Lights of Christmas event, held this year Nov. 10, 2023 to Dec. 31, 2023 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon, Tennessee. It's Tennessee's largest drive-thru holiday light and music shows. More than 2 million lights along a 2.5-mile route are programmed to music and new, colorful displays. Admission also includes entry to Santa's Village, visiting with Santa and the petting zoo. The attraction is open nightly at 5 p.m. rain or shine and on all holidays.
A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center takes place Nov. 10, 2023 - Jan. 1, 2024. This year's larger-than-life sculptures of ICE! features The Polar Express. Whiz down frozen slides, stroll through scenes from the classic movie and journey through awe-inspiring tunnels. Marvel at 3 million lights strung throughout the property inside and out. More than 17 hours of holiday fun can be had at the resort. Kids will love the Merry Snoopy Christmas Scavenger Hunt with clues sprinkled throughout the resort. Family-friendly fun can be had ice tubing, ice skating, watching the Merry & Bright Skating Spectacular, gingerbread decorating corner, visits with Santa, holiday dining, Snowball Build & Blast and much more.
Cheekwood Estate & Gardens is lit up with more than 1 million Christmas lights for Holiday Lights at Cheekwood. Stroll through the mansion to see the 20-foot-tall pink Poinsettia tree on display as well as more than 50 nutcrackers. Inside the Frist Learning Center, you'll find a nine-foot ornament wall filed with garden-themed ornaments, holiday merchandise and Santa's workshop as part of the Holiday Marketplace. Stop at one of the many s'mores stations and kiosks serving seasonal libations. Enjoy a weekend visit with Santa in the Frist Learning Center Tack Room. Dog-themed Santa visits also take place outside of the stable at the Frist Learning Center.
Gather the family together to see the "Nashville's Nutcracker" presented by the Nashville Ballet Dec. 8-24, 2023. Take a sparkling journey through the Land of Sweets with nods to Nashville's history and new, surprise elements. Feel the magic of beloved characters like the Sugar Plum Fairy, Drosselmeyer, Madam Bonbon and, of course, Clara and her beloved Nutcracker. Glittering sets, beautiful costumes and more make this show a Nashville family tradition.
Make lifelong memories at the many holiday events and activities in Clarksville. Christmas on the Cumberland is the most popular holiday activity as it features over 1 million lights in displays along over a half-mile Riverwalk at McGregor Park Nov. 18, 2023 - Jan. 2, 2024. If you prefer to drive, head to the Clarksville Speedway's Drive-Thru Christmas Lights which features more than 3 million light displays along the one-mile track Nov. 21, 2023 - Dec. 30, 2023. For even more Christmas events, check out Visit Clarksville TN's website.
Columbia has a full calendar of community events this holiday season. Get an early start on your holiday shopping at A Very Maury Christmas at the Factory at Columbia. You'll find more than 40 vendors with Tennessee made goods and crafts for sale at the market. Herald in the holiday season at the annual Columbia Main Street Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting 6 p.m. Dec. 2, 2023. Marvel at the 40-foot Christmas tree and enjoy illuminated floats and entertainment. Finally, take a stroll through the beautiful historic architecture of Columbia at the Maury Christmas Historic Home Tour. Tour some privately owned homes and historic landmarks at your own pace, taking in the beautiful holiday decor and history.
The pages of Charles Dickens' classic tale, "A Christmas Carol" come to life at Dickens of a Christmas in downtown Franklin. Here, the time of Dickens is recreated with musicians, dancing, delicious food and more. Meet characters like Tiny Tim, Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley as well as Victorian Father and Mother Christmas with treats for children. The annual event attracts more than 100,000 visitors over the weekend.
Christmas events in Memphis and surrounding areas
See new lights and displays synchronized to Christmas songs at Discovery Park of America's "Let It Glow" light show Nov. 10-Dec. 30, 2023. The walk-thru and drive-thru light show occurs on the 50 acres of the heritage park. Santa Claus will be at the walk-thru and available for photos every Friday and Saturday night in the Gristmill. The drive-thru features an all-new route for guests to experience filled with never-before-seen light displays and experiences. More than one million lights will light the way, giving you a unique look at the Titan Missile, the 199-foot-tall Discovery Center, the settlement of log cabins and more. Food and beverages like hot chocolate will be for sale in the walk-thru, transformed into the North Pole. Stroll through the Japanese Garden, European Garden and Mill Ridge as they glow like a winter wonderland. Shop local, handmade gifts, write letters to Santa and see more than 150 nutcrackers on display.
Graceland will gear up a full schedule of music and Christmas tradition during the inaugural Holiday Lighting Weekend that kicks off the season Nov. 16. You're invited to experience the lighting of Graceland in holiday cheer, concerts and unique Christmas tours of the Graceland mansion Nov. 16-Dec. 23. Gold ticket packages are available that includes front section seating at Soundstage concerts, afternoon Christmas tours, a pre-concert reception and a Christmas brunch.
Walk among beautifully decorated Christmas trees during the Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees at the Museum Science & History Nov. 18-Dec. 31, 2023. Kick off the holiday season with your family by marveling at the trees, check out the model trains and Gingerbread Village and take photos with Santa in his snow globe. Catch a showing of favorite holiday movies and Planetarium shows. Before heading home, shop for unique gifts at the museum's gift shop.
The Town of Collierville decks the town with bows, garland and lights for the Christmas season. Christmas in Collierville kicks off with the lighting of the 35-foot Christmas tree and nearly a quarter of a million lights in the Collierville Town Square Nov. 21, 2023. Sip hot chocolate and enjoy the live entertainment. The Christmas parade will take place Dec. 1, 2023. You can visit Santa in the Gazebo, take horse-drawn carriage rides, snap photos along the Holiday Photo Stroll and more on Saturdays Nov. 25-Dec. 16, 2023. Another must-attend event includes the Christmas in Collierville Holiday Light Tour featuring more than 100 locations of decorated homes and businesses. Details for the 2023 event will be announced soon.
Dickens Christmas - Covington
Time travel to a Victorian era Christmas during Dickens Christmas in Covington, Tennessee. The historic court square will be transformed into Charles Dickens' world filled with Victorian characters, horse drawn carriages, carolers and more. Make your way downtown to enjoy refreshments, local boutique shopping and more. Victorian era costumes are encouraged.
Take your family to Christmas on Main in charming Savannah, Tennessee. Enjoy main street businesses decked out in starry white lights, children's activities, visits from Santa, an open air ice skating rink at the Savannah Market, seasonally themed Christmas trees inside the Tennessee River Museum, train rides, Christmas performances, holiday movies, arts and crafts, carriage rides and so much more. The Christmas tree lighting takes place Dec. 1, 2023. Christmas on Main takes place December 2-3, December 9-10, and December 16-17, 2023.
Make this holiday season one to remember by filling your calendar with some or all of these Tennessee celebrations. For more holiday events, browse the event calendar.