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21 Best Things to Do for Christmas in Tennessee

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

The holiday season in Tennessee is a wonderland of Christmas lights, holiday traditions, and many festive events for the whole family. If you are seeking the ultimate Christmas experience, look no further! Here are 21 of the best things to do across the state to put you in the Christmas spirit and a few other fun things worth checking out while in Tennessee. 

Christmas Fun

1. Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Address: 1200 Forrest Park Dr, Nashville, TN 37205
Pricing: Adult tickets begin at $26

A close up of a Christmas tree filled with colorful lights and Christmas ball ornaments.

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens in Nashville ignites the holiday season with its celebrated Holiday LIGHTS event, running from November 18th to January 7th. As the sun sets, the estate transforms into a jubilant wonderland, offering a one-mile walking path adorned with over a million lights, casting a magical glow. Visitors can meander through this festive spectacle, enveloped in the joyful ambiance while indulging in seasonal libations and savoring s'mores. The Holiday Marketplace adds to the merry atmosphere, making it a perfect spot for families and friends to create cherished memories amidst the twinkling lights and cheerful spirit.

Address: 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Pricing: Starting at $82 per Adult for a 1-Day Ticket

DLT! sitting in front of a sign that reads Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas with red flowers behind her

Step into the enchanting world of Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas, where the magic of the holiday season comes alive at the Pigeon Forge theme park. From early November through January 6, the park radiates with over 6 million lights and numerous Christmas trees, creating a dazzling spectacle that embraces the holiday spirit. Take delight in the Christmas Parade of Many Colors, featuring floats adorned with twinkling lights, while the iconic Dollywood Express, a 110-ton coal-fired train, winds through the park, offering a festive journey for visitors.

Indulge in the joyous ambiance with captivating Christmas-themed shows and a live nativity, complemented by the park's renowned roller coasters and attractions, including the new Big Bear Mountain. As the evening descends, witness the winter sky aglow with a mesmerizing Christmas drone show, adding an extra layer of wonder to this cherished celebration. With festive flavors, heartwarming entertainment, and seasonal shopping set against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas promises an unforgettable holiday experience for the entire family!

For more details, check out our blog post, Your Guide to Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas.

3. Winterfest Driving Tour Of Lights

Address: Pigeon Forge Parkway
Pricing: Free

Funny Christmas decoration of a pick up truck with people partying on the truck bed

Explore the magic of Pigeon Forge's Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights, running from early November to mid-February. With over 5 million twinkling lights along the Parkway and Gatlinburg, immerse yourself in holiday cheer as you encounter the enchanting 12 Days of Christmas display, picturesque light-covered bridges, and the whimsical Fairytale Fantasy scenes. Whether self-guided or with local tour guides, this sparkling adventure invites you to enjoy the festive landscapes, creating cherished memories in this winter wonderland.

4. Christmas at Ober Gatlinburg

Address: 1339 Ski Mountain Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Pricing: Starts at $29 per person

Cute illuminated 3-D stars on a tree

Experience the festive wonder of Christmas at Ober Gatlinburg! Start with a visit to the Fudge Shop for delectable Gingerbread Cookies, an absolute must during your visit. From Whittler Dave's craft displays to free daily Christmas crafts, the holiday spirit abounds. Throughout December, delight in daily carolers, cozy fireside s'mores, and enchanting nightly readings of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Do not miss the spectacular Ice Sculptures and Ice Skating demonstrations on December 10th, and on weekends, treat the kids to face painting while capturing timeless memories with free Santa photos on select dates. Plus, with a guaranteed 100% chance of snow and fun, explore Ober Gatlinburg's array of activities, from the Tennessee Flyer to the Wildlife Habitat, Ice Bumper Cars, and more, promising entertainment for the entire family all season long.

5. The Pinnacle Speedway In Lights

Address: 106 Thunder Valley Dr, Bristol, TN 37620
Pricing: $20 for Sunday - Thursday Night and $25 for Friday and Saturday Night per car with up to 8 passengers

Gift Of Lights at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, United States

Experience the magic of The Pinnacle Speedway In Lights, a breathtaking holiday spectacle at Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway. From November 17th to January 6th, embark on a 4-mile journey through a dazzling display of 3 million lights, with the opportunity to drive around "The World's Fastest Half-Mile" track, creating a festive drive like no other. Make a pit stop at the Christmas Village, nestled in the popular infield location, adding to the enchanting atmosphere of this extraordinary light show experience.

6. Christmas at the Gaylord Opryland Resort

Address: 2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
Pricing: Price varies per attraction and packages

The Polar Express Round Trip ticket carved out of ice
The Polar Express ICE! Experience in 2022 at Gaylord Texan

Experience the enchantment of Gaylord Opryland Resort's A Country Christmas featuring ICE! showcasing The Polar Express™ movie scenes intricately sculpted from over 2 million pounds of ice. Whether as an overnight guest or day visitor, revel in live shows, dazzling displays, and festive activities for all ages. Glide across the 9,000-square-foot outdoor ice skating rink or feel the thrill of zooming down the 15-foot-high ice tubing hill.

Gaylord Opryland, waterfalls, restaurant, bar

Join Snoopy's Merry Scavenger Hunt to help decorate his iconic doghouse and partake in Mrs. Claus's festive Christmas Traditions celebration, filled with classic tales, sing-alongs, and warm, freshly baked cookies. Hop aboard the Delta Riverboat Christmas Cruise, explore the 12 Days of A Country Christmas, and enjoy bumper cars, snowball build & blast, and much more in this holiday extravaganza at Gaylord Opryland Resort! For more details about ICE! and celebrating Christmas at a Gaylord Hotel, check out our blog post, ICE! is back at the Gaylord Texan and The Grinch is here too.

7. SkyLand’s Festival Of Lights

Address: 1620 Parkway Sevierville, TN 37862
Pricing: Adult tickets start at $18.99

Huge, beautiful, magical Christmas lights tunnel with pinks and blues

Experience the magic of the holiday season at SkyLand Ranch's Festival of Lights, a dazzling extravaganza nestled in the Smoky Mountains from November 3rd to February 18th. Witness over 100 displays featuring up to 1 million lights illuminating enchanting scenes like a light-up nativity, cowboy displays, and a stunning 25-foot LED Christmas tree at the heart of the courtyard. Guests will be captivated by a mesmerizing tunnel of lights leading to the Legacy Lookout, offering a panoramic view of millions of city lights below.

Explore themed areas, including a realistic nativity scene, and indulge in the festive ambiance of SkyLand Café & Bakery, transformed into a North Pole bakery for delightful holiday treats. SkyLand's Festival of Lights, presented by Food City, invites visitors to revel in this enchanting spectacle during Smoky Mountain Winterfest from 6 pm to 9 pm nightly. Do not miss this breathtaking holiday event!

8. Polar Express Train Ride at Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Address: 45 Mitchell St. Bryson City, NC 28713
Pricing: Adult tickets begin at $44

The Polar Express Train and the conductor in the back both made out of ice
The Polar Express ICE! Experience in 2022 at Gaylord Texan

Embark on a magical journey aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride by the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, departing from Bryson City Depot. Experience the enchantment of the beloved holiday story as the train travels to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus, delighting in hot chocolate, sweet treats, and festive singing along the way. Witness the joy on children's faces as Santa presents each with a special gift—a silver sleigh bell. While tickets for 2023 are sold out, secure your spot for the 2024 adventure and create cherished memories on this magical ride!

9. Enchanted Christmas at Anakeesta

Address: 576 Parkway Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Pricing: Adult tickets begin at $34.99


Experience the enchanting glow of Anakeesta's Enchanted Christmas located in Downtown Gatlinburg. This event is a mesmerizing celebration of tens of thousands of twinkling lights illuminating the mountaintop park from November 10th to December 31st. Explore Firefly Village's holiday-lit charm, discover Black Bear Village resonating with Christmas music, and wander through Arctic Alley's tens of thousands of lights synchronized to festive soundtracks. Follow the sensory walk in Vista Gardens and experience the captivating allure of the forest with the TreeTop SkyWalk at night, transforming Anakeesta into a magical wonderland after sundown.

Included with park admission, revel in diverse entertainment such as the melodic tunes of the Anakeesta Carolers and the delightful aerial performances of Lolly Swirlycanes, a hoop artist in a whimsical candy cane costume. Visit the newly opened Stone Village to witness astonishing acts by a juggling stilt walker, captivating audiences with mesmerizing displays of dexterity and balance amid the holiday cheer.

10. Christmas at Dolly Parton's Stampede

Address: 3849 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Pricing: Tickets start at $59.99

Holiday Meal Spread

Immerse yourself in the festive spirit at Dolly Parton's Stampede in Pigeon Forge for an unforgettable Christmas experience. Enjoy a four-course holiday feast while witnessing thrilling horse riding stunts, spectacular special effects, and phenomenal music productions amidst a North Pole and South Pole rivalry. Delight in the heartwarming live nativity scene featuring three kings, camels, and radiant angels, capturing the essence of the season amid playful elves, Santa's visit, and beloved holiday music. This entertaining show, filled with nostalgia and adventure, promises family-friendly fun for all ages in the scenic Smoky Mountains.

11. Pigeon Forge Snow

Address: 2533 Teaster Ln, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Pricing: Prices start at $9.99, but vary based on the day and activities 

Kid snow tubing

Experience the thrill of year-round snow tubing at Pigeon Forge Snow, America’s premier indoor snow park. With options for one hour of tubing and 30 minutes of snow play, it is the perfect destination for family fun, catering to all ages under any weather conditions. Watch your loved ones enjoy the slopes from the second level, designed for observation, relaxation, and convenient access to the snack bar, ensuring an unforgettable snowy adventure for everyone.

12. Music City Christmas Evening Cruise

Address: 2812 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
Pricing: Adult ticket prices begin at $100

Immerse yourself in the elegance of Music City Christmas aboard the General Jackson Showboat in Nashville for a holiday experience like no other. From timeless classics by Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole to modern favorites by Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé, enjoy a spectacular production featuring Nashville's top vocalists, dancers, and an all-star live band, now enhanced with a dynamic horn section. Be enchanted by Broadway-style dance numbers, stunning costumes, and a captivating multimedia display that embodies the true spirit and magic of Christmas. Prepare for a night to cherish and mark a new annual tradition by donning your holiday best and joining the unforgettable Music City Christmas celebration!

A meal on a boat with coffee, orange juice, and thew newspaper

13. Tennessee Christmas Midday Cruise

Address: 2812 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
Pricing: Adult ticket is $72

Embark on an authentic Tennessee Christmas journey aboard the Tennessee Christmas Midday Cruise, running from November 17th to December 25th, 2023. This musical delight showcases holiday classics by iconic Tennessee artists like Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, and Elvis Presley, blending bluegrass from the Great Smoky Mountains and rhythm and blues from Memphis. Culminating in a heartfelt celebration of the true meaning of the season, immerse yourself in this musical tribute as you cruise down an authentic Tennessee riverway for an unforgettable holiday experience.

14. FrankTown Festival of Lights

Address: 4215 Long Lane Franklin, TN 37064
Pricing: $34.69 per car with up to 8 passengers 

A front year light pole with a red bow on it

Experience the enchantment of the FrankTown Festival of Lights, a nightly spectacle running from November 17 to December 31, 2023, at the Williamson County Ag. Expo Center. Enjoy a mile-and-a-half drive-thru shuttle display adorned with over 200 synchronized lights, set to harmonious holiday tunes, with special character nights on select dates. Every Wednesday from 5:00-6:30 pm, join a leisurely walk along the illuminated path, capturing memories by the Christmas Tree and indulging in s'mores by the cozy fire pits, providing a unique experience for all, including furry friends on leashes - the route opens to vehicles at 7:00 PM on these special evenings!

15. Zoo Lights at Memphis Zoo

Address: 2000 Prentiss Pl, Memphis, TN 38112
Pricing: $19 per person for Non-members ($14 per person for Members)

A tree missing it's leaves covered in Christmas lights

Prepare for a magical holiday adventure at Truist Zoo Lights in Memphis Zoo! Wander through mesmerizing light displays, including the iconic Light Tunnel, and be captivated by new features like the Gingerbread Forest and the enchanting Chinese lanterns, all accompanied by performances from Magic Mr. Nick. Glide across the ice skating rink or savor the warmth of s'mores and hot chocolate, with boozy options available for those 21+. Do not miss the chance to meet Santa Claus and share your holiday wishes at this merry event, perfect for romantic outings, family gatherings, or festive evenings with friends, open from 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM on select nights between November 24 and January 6.

Other Fun Things

16. Waterfall Hunting

Explore Tennessee's stunning waterfalls during the Christmas season for an unforgettable adventure. Start at Falling Water Falls State Natural Area for picturesque streams and distant waterfall views atop the mountain. Rainbow Lake Wilderness Park offers a thrilling bridge over a stream, while the uphill trek to Laurel Falls Trail leads to a breathtaking, sizable waterfall, though it might test your endurance. Each location promises unique experiences, from goofy stream-side photos to the challenge of uphill climbs and the awe-inspiring sight of cascading waters, making it a memorable holiday waterfall hunting expedition. These are just a few of the breathtaking waterfalls in Tennessee, so the world is your oyster! 

17. Ruby Falls

Address: 1720 South Scenic Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37409
Pricing: Cave Walk to Ruby Falls Adult Ticket - $25.95

Explore the mesmerizing depths of Lookout Mountain at Ruby Falls, where a guided Cave Walk unveils the awe-inspiring 145-foot underground waterfall, the tallest accessible to the public in the United States. Descend 260 feet via a glass-front elevator and traverse the cavern trail, witnessing ancient formations and hearing the captivating story of the cavern's accidental discovery. This unique adventure boasts a one-mile round trip exploration, showcasing stunning rock formations and the thundering spectacle of Ruby Falls during an approximately 1 to 1-hour 20-minute tour.

18. Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

Address: 3917 St Elmo Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37409
Pricing: $15 per Adult

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway Car

Ascend Lookout Mountain with a thrilling ride on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, a funicular train with stations both at the mountain's summit and its base. This gravity-defying railway boasts a 72.7% grade, earning its title as the world's steepest passenger train and affectionately known as "America's most amazing mile." While seemingly intimidating, the steady ascent and descent provide a safe and exhilarating experience, offering passengers a breathtaking journey up and down the mountain's precipitous incline.

19. Downtown Nashville

Downtown Nashville offers a dynamic experience, from exploring the city by Segway Tours for a faster way to see the sights to enjoying a thrilling Monster Truck Tour through iconic spots like Nissan Stadium and Honky Tonk Highway. The area is vibrant, hosting attractions like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, making it a prime destination for music enthusiasts and a lively hub for restaurants and Honky Tonks along its iconic strip.

20. Opry Mills Mall

Address: 433 Opry Mills Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
Pricing: It depends on the activities, but entrance to the mall is free

Opry Mills Mall provides a typical shopping experience with numerous stores and a bustling food court featuring a carousel for added entertainment. Moreover, the mall boasts various engaging attractions such as Madame Tussauds, where visitors can interact with lifelike wax figures of famous country singers and perform on a replica Grand Ole Opry Stage. The mall is also home to the lively Great Big Game Show, offering contestants rounds of trivia and interactive mini-games, ensuring a day filled with entertainment beyond the typical shopping experience. Additionally, during the Christmas season, guests can meet and take pictures with Santa Claus, adding to the festive atmosphere of the mall.

21. The Island at Pigeon Forge

Address: 131 The Island Dr, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Pricing: Free Admission and Parking

Ole Smoky Moonshine at The Island at Pigeon Forge

The Island at Pigeon Forge is a vibrant entertainment complex nestled alongside the Little Pigeon River, offering over 60 unique shops, plenty of dining options, including Paula Deen's Family Kitchen, and a lively atmosphere with live music, games, and rides. At the heart of the Island stands the impressive 200-foot Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, dominating the skyline and offering stunning views of the surroundings. Visitors can also enjoy the captivating Island Show Fountains, the Margaritaville Island Hotel, the Ole Smoky Distillery's stage, and an enchanting nightly water show that adds to the festive ambiance.

Happy Howdy-days! 

DLT! standing on a rock with a water fall behind her

Are you ready to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit in Tennessee? With an array of holiday events, stunning light displays, and heartwarming traditions, Tennessee is a great place to enjoy your Christmas vacation!

Have you been to any of these Christmas events in Tennessee? If so, let me know in the comments below - I want to know about your favorite one! If you have not gone, are they on your bucket list of places to visit now? Let me know in the comments below, and share this article with the person or people you want to go with! Either way, SUBSCRIBE below to learn about other places you should add to your "To Visit" List! Ready? Okay, vamos. Time to have fun!

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*This article is not sponsored by any of the above-mentioned businesses or their affiliates.*
** Pictures above are not from the specific Christmas event itself, but rather a visual depiction of Christmas and/or the related topic. **


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