A 2021 Guide to Holiday Family Getaways Near Chattanooga

One-Tank Trips


‘Tis the season to be jolly, so grab your loved ones and spread some holiday cheer at festive events throughout the Southeast! These majestic winter wonderlands offer enchanting activities and celebrations for all. The best part? They’re only a short drive away. 


(Above) Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas; Photo Courtesy of Curtis Hilbun

Less than 100 miles from Chattanooga: 


Blue Ridge, GA

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway “Holiday Express” Train

WHEN: Nov. 26 – Dec. 23 

WHERE: 241 Depot Street

CONTACT: brscenic.com or 877.413.8724

COST: $52/adults; $35/children 2-12; FREE/children under 2

Catch the Holiday Express for a festive one-hour train ride during which you can listen to holiday music, hear the story “The Night Before Christmas,” and enjoy hot chocolate and snacks available for sale. Children will receive a Blue Ridge Scenic Railway jingle bell, candy cane, and activity packet while on board. 



Light Up Blue Ridge

WHEN: Nov. 27 

WHERE: Downtown Blue Ridge 

CONTACT: lightupblueridge.info or 706.258.8289


A day full of Christmas cheer, Light Up Blue Ridge has something for the whole family – from strolling Christmas entertainment and food vendors to Santa in the park. The Gingerbread Village will be open to the public Nov. 26 through Dec. 12, while Nov. 29, Blue Friday, will feature store discounts at many downtown merchants.

Photo Courtesy of Barnsley Resort


Adairsville, GA

Light up the Holidays at Barnsley Resort

WHEN: Nov. 28 – Jan. 2 

WHERE: Barnsley Resort

CONTACT: barnsleyresort.com or 770.773.7480

COST: Nightly rates start at $315

Take a stroll through the historic Manor House Ruins, gardens, and entire Barnsley Resort village decorated with more than 1 million colorful holiday lights. The resort offers several holiday-themed events, from gingerbread house crafting and wreath crafting workshops to visits from Santa. A special “Light Up the Holidays” offer is also available for those wishing to stay overnight. 


Less than 150 miles from Chattanooga:


Dahlonega, GA

Dahlonega’s 2021 Old Fashioned Christmas

WHEN: Nov. 26 – Jan. 9 

WHERE: Downtown Dahlonega

CONTACT: dahlonegachristmas.com or info@dahlonegachristmas.com 


Experience “the most wonderful time of the year” in historic Dahlonega, where an entire month of activities is prepared for visitors and residents alike. The magic begins on Nov. 26 with an afternoon of music and the Lighting of the Square and Tree. In addition to carriage rides and Santa visits, notable events include the Christmas Market on Dec. 3, 4, 10, and 11 and the Christmas Parade on Dec. 11.



Helen, GA


WHEN: Nov. 27-28 and Dec. 4-5

WHERE: Downtown Marktplatz

CONTACT: helenchamber.com or 706.878.1908


The Helen Chamber of Commerce will host its 14th Annual Christkindlmarkt, a traditional German event, over two weekends in 2021. Offering everything from unique gifts and decorations to an assortment of savory and sweet foods, drinks, and candied treats, this event promises plenty of festive Alpine cheer in the center of Helen, Georgia.



Stone Mountain, GA

Stone Mountain Christmas

WHEN: Nov. 13 – Jan. 2

WHERE: Stone Mountain Park

CONTACT: stonemountainpark.com or 800.401.2407

COST: Tickets start at $34.95/adults; $29.95/children

With old favorites and all-new experiences, Stone Mountain Christmas is fun for all. A delightful cast of characters makes up the Snow Angel’s Christmas Parade, while a Musical Frosted Forest mesmerizes with beautiful lights, sights, and sounds. Take part in a special  visit with Santa, then check out one of several unique live shows to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Photos Courtesy of Gaylord Opryland


Nashville, TN

“A Country Christmas” at Gaylord Opryland Resort

WHEN: Nov. 12 – Jan. 2 

WHERE: Gaylord Opryland Resort

CONTACT: christmasatgaylordopryland.marriott.com or 615.889.1000

COST: Prices vary by event

A Country Christmas at the Gaylord Opryland is a beloved Nashville tradition. Guests can explore acres of twinkling lights, enjoy more than 17 hours of exciting activities, shows, and events, and for the first time ever, step into the world of Buddy the Elf in the all-new Gaylord Hotels Original Experience, Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf™. 



Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood

WHEN: Nov. 20 – Jan. 9 

WHERE: Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

CONTACT: cheekwood.org or 615.356.8000

COST: $16-$18/adult members; $12-$14/youth members; $19-$28/adult non-members; $12-$22/youth non-members (Advanced, timed-entry tickets are required for all guests.)

Savor the sights and sounds of the season at Cheekwood’s Holiday LIGHTS. With more than a million lights glowing throughout the 55 acres of botanical gardens, along with a Reindeer Village, Children’s Wonderland, Nutcrackers in the Mansion, and holiday workshops, your family is sure to make lasting holiday memories. 



Less than 200 miles from Chattanooga: 


Gatlinburg, TN

Back in Blue Rail Jam

WHEN: Nov. 19

WHERE: Ober Gatlinburg

CONTACT: obergatlinburg.com or 865.436.5423

COST: FREE for spectators

Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area previews the ski season with an Ober Gatlinburg Freestyle Terrain Park Rail Jam in the Snow Tubing Park. The annual event – taking place from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. – is open to anyone who wants to get the season started early. Spectators can look forward to prizes, music, and local vendors. 


Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees

WHEN: Nov. 24 – 28

WHERE: Gatlinburg Convention Center

CONTACT: gatlinburgfestivaloftrees.com 


Dozens upon dozens of ornately decorated Christmas trees await visitors in this winter wonderland at Gatlinburg Convention Center’s W.L. Mills Conference Center. Presented by Hospitality Solutions, Inc., the Festival of Trees benefits the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce and the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains. The event begins daily at 10 a.m. 



Great Smoky Thanksgiving & Christmas Arts & Crafts Show

WHEN: Nov. 29 – Dec. 4

WHERE: Gatlinburg Convention Center

CONTACT: gatlinburg.com or 865.436.4178


Find unique handcrafted gifts made by members of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community at this annual show at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Gorgeous quilts, old-fashioned straw brooms, woven baskets, hand-dipped scented candles, stuffed bears, leather vests, and handmade jewelry are just a few of the offerings that await!

Photo Courtesy of Gatlinburg CVB


Gatlinburg’s Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

WHEN: Dec. 3 

WHERE: Downtown Gatlinburg

CONTACT: gatlinburg.com or 800.588.1817 


For more than 40 years, this popular Christmas parade has thrilled spectators with lighted floats, marching bands, walking units, balloons, and the jolly ole elf himself, Santa Claus. The parade begins at 7:30 p.m. and goes through downtown Gatlinburg.



New Year’s Eve Ball Drop & Fireworks Show

WHEN: Dec. 31

WHERE: Historic Nature Trail

CONTACT: gatlinburg.com or 800.588.1817


Count down to 2022 in downtown Gatlinburg at the annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. At the stroke of midnight, fireworks will blast off the rooftop of the 400-foot-tall Space Needle, accompanied by special music and a rhythmic LED light display. Many restaurants and businesses will be offering celebration specials in honor of the new year. 



Pigeon Forge, TN

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

WHEN: Nov. 6 – Jan. 2  

WHERE: Dollywood

CONTACT: dollywood.com or 800.365.5996

COST: Prices vary by event

Dollywood’s award-winning festival is home to millions of lights, heartwarming shows, and a winter wonderland featuring a 50-foot Christmas tree. Explore Wildwood Grove and Glacier Ridge, see holiday stories unfold on stage, and sip a mug of hot chocolate as you take in all that Dollywood has to offer.

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