PIGEON FORGE — More than 5 million lights. Award-winning stage productions. Sweet treats and hearty holiday meals. Christmas hymns at the little church in the valley.

Those are just a few of the things that have made Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas a tradition for many families for more than 30 years.

It may only be the second Sunday in November, but the holidays are in full swing at the park, with all those things and more. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas officially began Nov. 6 and continues through Jan. 2, 2022.

Dollywood is fresh off its 13th consecutive Golden Ticket award for Best Theme Park Christmas event. In fact, it is the only park in the world to earn this prestigious industry honor. For guests, Smoky Mountain Christmas always marks the beginning of the “Dolly-days.”

DOLLY’S HOPES

“Christmas really is the most special time of the year, because it’s when we all come together to share those precious memories we all hold dear,” said Dolly Parton. “It’s when we take time to remember those cherished times and stories from the past, but it’s also when we start so many new traditions that will become the stories we tell years from now.”

Parton said she hopes all who visit Dollywood this season experience the love and joy of a traditional Smoky Mountain Christmas.

“We hope they’ll laugh, love and linger as they enjoy the light of the season. We also hope they create those new memories and family traditions that they’ll share for many years to come,” Parton said.

THE LIGHTS

Dollywood guests immediately are enveloped in the illumination of millions of holiday lights, which create a festive Christmas atmosphere that has become a cherished family tradition for generations. While the lighting itself remains familiar to guests, area-based themes and lighting designs throughout the park provide a sense of wonder and discovery around each turn.

Glacier Ridge presented by Goo Goo Cluster fills Dollywood’s Timber Canyon, Wildwood Grove, Wilderness Pass and Upper Craftsman’s Valley with an expansive arctic experience sure to inspire and delight guests. Wilderness Pass serves as one of the highlights of Glacier Ridge thanks to the Wonderful Christmas! Plaza Tree Show, which features a 50-foot animated tree that presents a fully synchronized, dazzling light show throughout the evening.

SANTA

Last year, Old Saint Nick allowed visitors to watch him hard at work in his little cabin in the woods at Dollywood. For the kids — and kids at heart — wondering what Santa is up to this year, he enjoyed his time in the Smokies so much that he has returned to his new home away from home.

Most people don’t know that when he isn’t hard at work at the North Pole, Santa likes to visit East Tennessee and his great friend, Dolly. Guests who visit Santa’s cabin can literally see inside as he reviews … the list.

Kids discover whether their name is on the naughty or nice list, and they might even have their photo made as they peer through the window during this once-in-a-lifetime chance to catch Santa at work.

THE SHOWS

Dollywood’s family-favorite shows will be lighting up both indoor and outdoor stages. The festival’s headline show, “Christmas in the Smokies,” has been a must-see for families every Christmas season since it began more than 30 years ago. Families also can enjoy “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “O’ Holy Night,” “Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs,” “The Mistletones,” “Appalachian Christmas with the Smoky Mountain String Band” and more.

FIREWORKS

Returning for its second year, the “Merry & Bright!” fireworks display is a sparkling ending to a Christmas cheer-filled day at Dollywood. “Merry & Bright!” fills the sky above Dollywood with dazzling lights set to the rhythm of upbeat contemporary holiday hits. The show — which was only on weekends in 2020 — was so popular that guests now will be able to experience it every evening of operation during the festival. Families can dance and sing along to favorite Christmas songs as the fireworks shine and shimmer above, allowing families to create one last special memory before leaving the park.

THE FOOD

And for those looking to celebrate the holidays with the perfect family meal, Dollywood’s team of chefs has a menu full of culinary surprises sure to delight. From creole-roasted turkey breast and smothered pork loin to braised beef short ribs and lobster bisque, a number of hearty favorites are sure to remind guests of Christmases past. A number of unique items abound including eggnog cheesecake, hazelnut churros, Santa’s chilled cocoa and more.

As always, guests can experience Dollywood’s world-class rides amid the hustle and bustle of the park during the holidays, as most rides are operational during the Christmas season. Nothing compares to racing quickly through the night sky with millions of lights twinkling below.

No matter what activities are on the Christmas list this year, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas is sure to shine a familiar light on holiday traditions that families will share and cherish for years to come.

For more information and a park operating calendar, please visit dollywood.com or download the Dollywood app.

Recommended Videos