Christmas at Dollywood

Country music singer and actress Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, shines during the holidays with over 5 million lights. 

Holiday decorations at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge Tennessee (photo by Curtis Hilbun/Dollywood)

The Smoky Mountains shine during the Christmas season, when American country music singer and actress Dolly Parton’s very own theme park, Dollywood, twinkles with over 5 million lights. 

Dollywood is beloved for both its thrill rides and the blacksmiths, candlemakers, glass blowers and other craftspeople that demonstrate the region’s traditions throughout the park. 

During the holidays, the park’s 11 areas tell a seasonal story through their decor. Santa’s Village, where you can visit with the big man himself, glitters red and green. Glacier Ridge dons blue and white lights, with ‘snow’ falling from the sky. (It snows an average of only 2 inches in Pigeon Forge each year, with average high temperatures in the 40-to-50-degree range throughout the winter.) Craftsman Valley glows with candlelight as craftspeople are busy at work creating one-of-a-kind holiday gifts. 

The park hums year-round with bluegrass, country and pop tunes. During the month of December, a 14-member ensemble known as Christmas in the Smokies rocks the park with classic holiday tunes. 

Throughout the park, the scents of the season invite diners to dig into special menu items, which in past years have included dishes such as braised beef short ribs and cinnamon-spiked apple funnel cakes. Dollywood’s signature peppermint hot cocoa swirled with freshly whipped cream and gingerbread cookies are available every year. 

The Parade of Many Colors kicks off each evening at 8 p.m. with floats featuring seasonal characters and Santa leading the festivities. (Rudolph, with his red nose, lights the way.) In past years, the Merry & Bright fireworks spectacular has launched to the beat of holiday classics each night a half hour before close. 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd., Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37863, 800/365-5996,