If it feels like there’s always something new and exciting happening in the Great Smokies — well, that’s because there is. Read on for a guide to the best festivals, sporting competitions, and other events you can look forward to in 2020.

Smoky Mountain Winterfest — January and February

Smoky Mountain Winterfest is the region’s winter light show, offering arts and crafts, shows, and more than 15 million glittering lights.

King of the Mountain — January

The region’s top technical and freestyle skiers compete during the annual “King of the Mountain” event at Ober Gatlinburg resort.


A Mountain Quiltfest — March

The 26th annual A Mountain Quiltfest brings regional quilters together for five days of classes, demonstrations, and shows.

Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament — April

Fishermen of all levels face off to catch trout from the Little Pigeon River.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage — April

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage invites locals and visitors to embark on bird-watching tours, insect walks, and photography workshops led by knowledgeable guides and instructors.


Dolly Homecoming Parade — May

Thousands of locals line up to welcome Dolly Parton back to town at the Dolly Homecoming Parade, featuring floats, marching bands, and local entertainers.

Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival — May

Heaping platters of the namesake dishes are served at the Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival, which is considered an “ode to the culinary past of Appalachia.”

Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales — June, July, August

Musicians, actors, and storytellers take over downtown Gatlinburg during the summer Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales event.


Summer Concert Series — June, July, August

As a part of the Summer Concert Series, bluegrass, rock, and country musicians perform at venues such as Ole Smoky and Sugarlands.

First Independence Day Parade in the Nation — July

Gatlinburg kicks off the Fourth of July right as the clock strikes midnight, with floats, bands, and military motorcades.

Old Mill Heritage Day — September

The Old Mill Heritage Day celebration sees Old Mill Square hosting interactive events and activities, such as square dances, sorghum-making demonstrations, and bluegrass performances.

Chalkfest at the Island — October

During the annual Chalkfest event, The Island shopping and entertainment complex transforms into a larger-than-life canvas for creative murals in chalk.


Dollywood Harvest Festival — October

The Dollywood Harvest Festival boasts a pumpkin patch, a jack-o’-lantern spectacular, and demonstrations by local artisans and musicians.

Titanic Thanksgiving Fireworks — November

The Titanic Museum rings in the holiday season with a festive fireworks show on the evening before Thanksgiving.

Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival — December

Dollywood’s Christmas celebration includes gospel shows, musical performances inspired by “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and a nightly parade.

In Pigeon Forge, autumn is a truly spectacular season —  the Smokies turn red, green, and gold; Dollywood transforms into a larger-than-life pumpkin patch; and Southern wineries and distilleries release limited-edition bottles. Here’s our guide to the best autumnal happenings in this Tennessee resort town.


Old Mill Heritage Day

Old Mill Square was built around, and named for, a 19th-century gristmill, and autumn is the season when the plaza celebrates its history. September brings Old Mill Heritage Day, where you can watch moonshine- and sorghum-making demonstrations, catch bluegrass performances, take part in old-fashioned games and square dances, make arts and crafts, and learn about Pigeon Forge pioneers.

September 28; http://oldmillheritageday.com



Seasonal Wine-and-Spirit Tastings

Though Smith Creek Moonshine’s Pigeon Forge outpost and the Rocky Top Wine Trail organization’s wineries are popular year round, both offer enticing autumn-specific offerings that you’ll want to add to your Pigeon Forge itinerary. Smith Creek Moonshine releases a seasonal apple-pie flavor, and the Rocky Top Wineries host the “Chocolate Wine Trail” event, pairing wines with handmade desserts and wine-themed souvenirs.

October 26; https://www.rockytopwineries.com/event/chocolate-wine-trail-3/


Dollywood Harvest Festival and Great Pumpkin LumiNights

Each autumn, Dolly Parton’s famous theme park takes a cue from the singer’s flamboyant, over-the-top style by hosting its annual Harvest Festival. The event transforms Dollywood into a larger-than-life pumpkin patch, with pumpkin-picking activities, an after-hours “LumiNights” jack-o-lantern spectacular, more than 500 gospel performances, and demos by local artisans, including glass painters, Appalachian woodworkers, and even fiddle-makers.

September 27-November 2; https://www.dollywood.com/themepark/Festivals/Harvest-Festival and https://www.dollywood.com/themepark/Entertainment/GreatPumpkinLuminights



The Island shopping and entertainment complex features hundreds of square feet of bare concrete (alongside its famous Ferris wheel), and this particular Pigeon Forge venue honors autumn with a celebration known as Chalkfest. For one afternoon every October, dozens of artists take to the park’s grounds, drafting larger-than-life chalk illustrations of Tony the Tiger, the Mona Lisa, and more.

October 5; https://islandinpigeonforge.com/event/chalkfest/



Colorful Smoky Foliage

If there’s one truly iconic Pigeon Forge autumn experience, it’s a hike or drive around the surrounding Smokies themselves, a sub-range of the Appalachian Mountains. Take in sweeping views of the colorful landscape from lookouts atop Clingman’s Dome, Charlie’s Bunion, Andrew’s Bald, Cades Cove Road, or Newfound Gap Road. For something a little more exciting, visit Legacy Mountain Ziplines, where you can zoom through the trees at up to 50 miles per hour on one of seven ziplines.