It’s my personal opinion that the Great Smoky Mountains are truly at their best during the fall and winter months. While I love Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival and Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration, there is something super special about the seasonal showcase of holidays at Dollywood from late September with Harvest Festival featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights to the Christmas spectacular that is Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. The lights seem brighter, the smells of holiday treats are stronger, and the air is definitely crisper.
Pigeon Forge sees all of the seasons, and while we’ve shared our tips on how to stay cooler when the summer heat hits the park, I’m going to share my tips on how to stay warm when you’re visiting during one of the cooler times of the year in the Smokies.
Layers, Layers and More Layers
If you are from the South, you know how quickly the weather can change, hour by hour, and Dollywood is no different. During a beautiful park day, you might be hitting the pavement and waiting in line for the Dragonflier under the hot sun and by night, you are reaching for your favorite Dollywood sweatshirt to stay warm.
During Smoky Mountain Christmas, I like to suggest wearing something lightweight under a heavier shirt, plus bringing along a lighter jacket. The lights of Glacier Ridge start really showing out between 4:30 – 5 p.m., right as the temperature starts falling. By having a few different options available, you can make sure you are comfortable both in the heat of the day AND when it starts to get chilly at dusk.
When the Weather Outside Is Frightful, the Shows Inside Are Delightful
There are 6 million lights throughout Dollywood this season, and they are stunning. But when you need a break from the frosty, winter air, Dollywood Entertainment has several options to help you warm up a bit before you return outside to the lights. The Christmas shows featured during Smoky Mountain Christmas are guaranteed to warm both your heart and your hands, as most theaters open the doors 15-30 minutes prior to the show start time, listed on your Dollywood map guide or Dollywood app.
I personally like to stop by the Showstreet Bakery on my way to Jukebox Junction and The Pines Theater, grab a Snikerdoodle cookie, and head to watch 12 talented performers in “’Twas The Night Before Christmas.” Several indoor theaters throughout the park feature seasonal holiday entertainment and a warm reprieve from the cold for 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the length of the show.
However, you don’t want to miss the outdoor theater performances either, and Dollywood takes good care of you. At The Valley Theater, be on the lookout for the industrial sized heaters as you take in a performance of the beloved, “O Holy Night.” My family and I like to get to the theater about 30 minutes before the next performance to stake out one of the warmest spots before the show.
Smart Accessories Checklist
I’ve heard it said that accessories make the outfit, and that is true for a cold theme park day. You have the traditional favorites: ear muffs, warm headbands and beanies. But I also like to make sure I pack along a pair of tech-friendly gloves because no one wants to take their mittens off every time they want to share a picture of the fun they are having at Dollywood on their social media accounts or taking a snap with the family during the snowfall that occurs during “Wonderful Christmas.”
I have also been known to throw on an additional pair of socks when wearing my warmest boots on a particularly cold Dollywood day. We also always make sure to stock up on handwarmers in the camping section of our local outdoor store. These are great to keep hands warm in the cold air.
However, my favorite accessory to keep my hands warm can be found throughout the park, and that is a warm cup of hot wassail or hot chocolate. You can find a complete list of places to find the seasonal hot chocolate in this link, but several of the holiday tasting booths also feature the hot wassail, which is by far my favorite.
Always check the weather before heading for a beautiful evening enjoying the Dollywood Christmas lights, but don’t let the wind chill deter you! Utilize some of these tips and warm your body, heart and soul this winter at Smoky Mountain Christmas.