One Tank Trips

Some of the most festive holiday events in the Southeast are only a short drive from Chattanooga. You will be surprised at how far one tank of gas will take you, as you travel to the cheerful places across Tennessee and Georgia that welcome visitors to a wonderland of twinkling lights, seasonal music, and magical smells of the season. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Cumberland Plateau, these destinations are sure to make spirits jolly and bright (and prove that Santa really travels everywhere).

Less than 100 miles from home

Blue Ridge, GA

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway “Santa Express Train”

WHEN: Nov. 25, 26, Dec. 3, 10, 17-24
WHERE: 241 Depot Street
CONTACT: or 877.413.8724
COST: adult/senior: $45, children 2-12: $29, children under 24 months: FREE

This festive daytime trip offers passengers the chance to ride along with Santa while enjoying the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” story, singing Christmas carols, and visiting with Christmas characters. Each child will receive a traditional BRSR memento, BRSR Christmas Activity Book, and candy cane. Train journeys last about one hour.

Light Up Blue Ridge

WHEN: Nov. 25 – 26
WHERE: Downtown Blue Ridge

This old-fashioned Appalachian Christmas celebration in downtown Blue Ridge kicks off with a special “Blue Friday” shopping event with Santa’s Helpers. On Saturday, enjoy a day of family fun as Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at 9:30 a.m. to start the parade! Guests can meet Santa and have photos taken in the gazebo of the Blue Ridge City Park. Enjoy live music, delicious food vendors, live reindeer, holiday contests, the Gingerbread Village, and more. The 27-foot tall Great Tree will be lit at 7 p.m.


Adairsville, GA

Light Up the Holidays Special at Barnsley Resort

WHEN: Nov. 26 – Dec. 29
WHERE: Barnsley Resort
CONTACT: or 770.773.7480
COST: weekday rates starting at $259/night, weekend rates starting at $349 (Light Up the Holidays special includes $50 resort activity credit and keepsake ornament)

See Barnsley Resort’s charming English-style village glow with more than a million dazzling lights and professionally designed holiday décor. Creative workshops are also held for hand-crafting holiday wreaths and decorating gingerbread.
(Photo Courtesy of Jessica Rayborn Photography)

Pikeville, TN

Fall Creek Falls State Park Christmas on the Mountain

WHEN: Dec. 2-3
WHERE: Fall Creek Falls State Park
CONTACT: or 423.881.5708

Christmas on the Mountain takes place in the peaceful, natural setting of Fall Creek Falls State Park, a 26,500-acre park on the Cumberland Plateau. A weekend of Yuletide fun and food, the event will be at the park’s inn and features Christmas music and presents. Activities for children and adults include traditional Christmas decorating, a silent auction, and a two-day mountain craft show. St. Nick might even make a surprise visit to breakfast!

Less than 150 miles from home

Blairsville, GA

16th Annual Mistletoe Market & Sugar Plum Tearoom

WHEN: Nov. 19-20
WHERE: North Georgia Technical College – Blairsville Campus
CONTACT: or 706.896.0932

Skilled artisans from the region will sell their works at this popular indoor arts and crafts show. Guests can explore the market’s unique handicrafts, gift items, and holiday decorations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 19, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 20. Shoppers can also enjoy a tasty lunch break at The Sugar Plum Tearoom.

Dahlonega, GA

Old-Fashioned Christmas

WHEN: Nov. 25 – Dec. 31
WHERE: Downtown Dahlonega
CONTACT: or 706.864.3711

Dahlonega’s Old-Fashioned Christmas is a month-long celebration opening Nov. 25 with the lighting of the square and the Merchant’s Open House. On Dec. 3, visitors can experience the lighting of the tree and visit with Santa when he arrives during an old fashioned Christmas parade. Plenty of festive holiday events continue daily throughout December.

Less than 200 miles from home

Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg Winter Magic Kickoff and Chili Cook-off

WHEN: Nov. 9
WHERE: Downtown Gatlinburg
CONTACT: or 800.237.4569
COST: FREE to attend, $10 to sample chili

On Nov. 9, the City of Gatlinburg will begin to illuminate the winter evenings with more than three million lights. Gatlinburg Winter Magic kicks off with a special lighting ceremony and a chili cook-off from 5 to 8 p.m. Stroll the Parkway, enjoy live entertainment from country singer Tara Thompson, and sample chili recipes from local restaurants.

Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights

WHEN: Nov. 9 – Jan. 31
WHERE: Downtown Gatlinburg
CONTACT: or 800.237.4569
COST: $5

Experience the Gatlinburg Winter Magic on this guided trolley tour of the city’s one-of-a-kind LED lighting displays. Tours depart from the Ripley’s Aquarium Trolley Station at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m. Group reservations are available.

Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees

WHEN: Nov. 22-27
WHERE: Downtown Gatlinburg
CONTACT: or 800.237.4569
COST: FREE; donations benefit Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains.

Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees is sure to inspire your creative side! See dozens of exquisitely decorated Christmas trees in this winter wonderland at Gatlinburg Convention Center’s W.L. Mills Conference Center.

Winter Magic Tunes & Tales

WHEN: Nov. 25 – Dec. 17
WHERE: Downtown Gatlinburg
CONTACT: or 800.237.4569

Through the winter season, holiday-themed characters entertain visitors with storytelling and caroling along the Parkway. This annual event occurs on Friday and Saturday evenings.

41st Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

WHEN: Dec. 2
WHERE: Downtown Gatlinburg
CONTACT: or 800.237.4569

This award winning Christmas parade is recognized as one of the very best by the International Festival and Events Association. Sights to see include illuminated floats, marching bands, equestrian units, and Santa Claus. It begins at 7:30 p.m. on East Parkway and continues through downtown.

The Nutcracker “Sweet”

WHEN: Dec. 17-18
WHERE: Country Tonite Theatre
CONTACT: or 865.680.7369
COST: sweet seats: $30, adult: $25, general: $20, seniors: $15, students: $10

Enjoy this classic holiday ballet presented by the Great Smoky Mountain Dance Theatre with performances at 2 p.m. at the Country Tonite Theatre.


New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show & Ball Drop

WHEN: Dec. 31
WHERE: Historic Nature Trail at the Parkway
CONTACT: or 800.237.4569

This family-friendly party is one of the nation’s largest organized New Year’s celebrations with nearly 50,000 attending. See the area surrounding the Gatlinburg Space Needle come alive at the stroke of midnight with specially choreographed music and a blaze of fireworks.
Photo courtesy of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Pigeon Forge, TN


Smoky Mountain Christmas

WHEN: Nov. 5 – Jan. 1
WHERE: Locations vary per event
CONTACT: 1.800.365.5996 or visit
COST: prices vary by event

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas is a nine-time award winner of America’s Best Christmas Event. A Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival presented by Humana features four million holiday lights and memorable holiday entertainment. New for this year, Dollywood will perform It’s a Wonderful Life and present the Parade of Many Colors, featuring brightly lit Christmas floats and holiday characters. Other family friendly events include meeting Rudolph and friends, listening to Appalachian and gospel Christmas music, and watching shows that can only be seen at Dollywood.
*Performance dates and information are subject to change without notice.


Nashville, TN

“A Country Christmas” at Gaylord Opryland

WHEN: Nov. 11 – Jan. 1
WHERE: Gaylord Opryland Resort
COST: prices vary by event

Visitors are invited to experience 2.3 million lights adorning trees and indoor gardens beneath multi-acre atriums. Highlights include Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical and the Parade of Trees – a self-guided tour of trees decorated by country artists to benefit charity. And don’t miss ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, where guests can explore a winter wonderland created by two million pounds of colorful ice sculptures carved by artisans from Harbin, China. Festive activities continue throughout the season with visits to Santa, a holiday kids’ train, gingerbread decorating, The Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt, Breakfast with The Grinch, an outdoor nativity scene, and more.