One Tank Trips

(Above) Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood


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



Less than 100 miles from home:


Blue Ridge, GA


Blue Ridge Scenic Railway “Santa Express” Train

WHEN: Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and Dec. 7-8, 14-16, 19, 21-23

WHERE: 241 Depot Street

CONTACT: or 877.413.8724

COST: $48/adults; $31/children 2-12; FREE/children under 2

Hop aboard the Santa Express train for an hour-long ride with Santa and Mrs. Claus! The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway hosts this festive holiday event filled with Christmas carols, your favorite holiday characters, storytelling, and more. Each child will also receive a traditional bell and candy cane.


Light Up Blue Ridge

WHEN: Nov. 30

WHERE: Downtown Blue Ridge

CONTACT: or 706.258.2432


A full day of fun is planned for Light Up Blue Ridge, beginning with Santa’s arrival at 11:15 a.m. Strolling Christmas characters, food vendors, and entertainment in the park will be available for visitors to enjoy. Don’t miss the annual Christmas parade at 5:30 p.m., followed by the lighting of Blue Ridge’s 27-foot-tall Great Tree at 7 p.m.


Adairsville, GA


Holiday Lights at Barnsley Resort

Holiday Lights at Barnsley Resort


Holiday Lights at Barnsley Resort

WHEN: Nov. 28-Jan. 1

WHERE: Barnsley Resort

CONTACT: or 770.773.7480

COST: $20/adults; $10/children 5-12; FREE/children under 5

Holiday lights and décor will be on display for visitors and resort guests alike to enjoy, beginning Nov. 28. Take a stroll through the historic Manor House Ruins, resort village, and the gardens, which offer extended hours throughout the season. Photos with Santa Claus are happening on select Saturdays, and holiday craft classes take place throughout December. A special “Light Up the Holidays” promotion is also available for those wishing to stay overnight.


Spencer, TN


Fall Creek Falls State Park Christmas on the Mountain

WHEN: Dec. 6-7

WHERE: Fall Creek Falls State Park

CONTACT: or 423.881.5298


It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee’s largest state park, located on the Cumberland Plateau. This December weekend includes live music, Christmas decorations, a craft show, and a visit from Santa himself. A Christmas tree lighting, marshmallow roasting, and hayrides (weather permitting) add to the excitement.


Less than 150 miles from home:


Blairsville, GA


19th Annual Mistletoe Market

WHEN: Nov. 23-24

WHERE: North Georgia Technical College

CONTACT: or 706.896.0932


Presented by the Mountain Regional Arts & Crafts Guild, this juried show features artisanal offerings from painting, quilting, and woodworking to jewelry, candles, and soap. Visitors can explore the market on Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Nov. 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food will be available for purchase.


Dahlonega, GA


Dahlonega’s 2019 Old Fashioned Christmas

WHEN: Nov. 29-Dec. 22 and Dec. 31

WHERE: Downtown Dahlonega

CONTACT: or 706.864.3513


Consistently recognized for its month-long festivities each year, Dahlonega knows how to celebrate Christmas! Activities kick off on Nov. 29 with the magical Lighting of the Square and Tree, complete with an ornament unveiling and extended merchant shopping hours. Other notable events include the Old Fashioned Christmas Parade on Dec. 7 and several performances of holiday classic “A Christmas Story” throughout the month of December.


Helen, GA



WHEN: Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and Dec. 7-8

WHERE: Downtown Marketplatz

CONTACT: or 706.878.1908


In true German tradition, the 12th annual Christkindlmarkt promises festive Alpine cheer in the center of Helen, Georgia. The market takes place over two weekends and offers unique gifts and decorations as well as savory foods, drinks, and candied treats. This event is sponsored by the Helen Chamber of Commerce.   


Nashville, TN


a country christmas at gaylord lights and ice slide

“A Country Christmas” at Gaylord


“A Country Christmas” at Gaylord

WHEN: Nov. 8-Jan. 1

WHERE: Gaylord Opryland Hotel

CONTACT: or 615.889.1000

COST: Prices vary by event.

This Nashville tradition boasts 3 million holiday lights and acres of enchanting decorations. Guests can check out SoundWaves, an upscale water experience, before exploring 2 million pounds of ICE! – this year featuring “A Christmas Story”! With additional activities including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical,” ice skating, carriage rides, scavenger hunts, gingerbread decorating, and more, there’s always something new to discover.


Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood

WHEN: Nov. 23-Jan. 5

WHERE: Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

CONTACT: or 615.356.8000

COST: $17-$22/adults; $12-$17/children 3-17; FREE/children under 3

A winter wonderland awaits at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, uniquely designed to create an immersive and engaging experience for all ages. A mile-long path of shimmering lights decorates the gardens, while a 20-foot-tall poinsettia tree provides the perfect spot for a photo in the Cheekwood Mansion. Activities include Santa’s Workshop, Reindeer Village, gingerbread and ornament decorating, and holiday carolers.


Less than 200 miles from home:


Gatlinburg, TN


Gatlinburg Trolley Ride of Lights

WHEN: Nov. 22-Jan. 31

WHERE: Downtown Gatlinburg

CONTACT: or 800.588.1817

COST: $10

Experience the wonder of Gatlinburg Winter Magic from the comfort of a heated trolley! This tour shows off the one-of-a-kind LED lighting display decorating Gatlinburg’s famous downtown Parkway and Arts and Crafts Community; the lineup features animals, snowmen, dancing fountains, and more. New this year, all rides will be hosted by costumed Appalachian storytellers, and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies will provide complimentary hot chocolate. Trolleys depart at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m.


Festival of Trees

WHEN: Nov. 27-Nov. 30

WHERE: W.L. Mills Conference Center

CONTACT: or 800.588.1817


Exquisitely decorated Christmas trees are the highlight of this annual event. This year, visitors can expect new family-friendly activities, live entertainment, visits with Santa Claus, and of course, Christmas trees and wreaths available for purchase. Proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg Chamber Foundation.


Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show

WHEN: Dec. 2-Dec. 8

WHERE: Gatlinburg Convention Center

CONTACT: or 800.588.1817


Find pottery, handmade jewelry, old-fashioned straw brooms, quilts, stuffed bears, leather vests, and much more at this arts and crafts show. These handcrafted gifts were made by members of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community and make a great addition to your family’s stockings.


Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

WHEN: Dec. 6

WHERE: Downtown Gatlinburg

CONTACT: or 800.588.1817


Starting at 7:30 p.m., the 44th annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade will pass through downtown. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early to secure a prime spot for the parade, which includes balloons, floats decorated by local businesses and groups, and marching bands from across the Eastern United States.


New Year’s Eve Ball Drop & Fireworks Show

WHEN: Dec. 31

WHERE: Historic Nature Trail

CONTACT: or 800.588.1817


Count down to 2020 at this family-friendly celebration in downtown Gatlinburg. With live DJ entertainment, a spectacular fireworks show, and celebration specials at many restaurants and businesses, it’s sure to be an unforgettable evening. At midnight, watch the ball drop at the base of the 400-foot Space Needle.


Pigeon Forge, TN


Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas lights

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas


Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

WHEN: Nov. 9-Jan. 4

WHERE: Dollywood

CONTACT: or 1.800.365.5996

COST: Prices vary by event.

Dollywood’s award-winning festival is home to five million Christmas lights, heartwarming shows, and the essence of the holidays. Glacier Ridge – new last season – is filled with sparkling displays, a 50-foot video motion Christmas tree, and other dazzling light displays. Musical productions of “Christmas in the Smokies” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” unfold onstage, and the Parade of Many Colors delights with vibrant floats and interactive characters. Be on the lookout for Rudolph and Friends, Santa, and more!


The Nutcracker

WHEN: Dec. 13-15

WHERE: Country Tonite Theatre

CONTACT: or 865.680.7369

COST: $30/sweet seats; $25/orchestra seats; $20/adults; $15/seniors; $10/children

This well-loved holiday ballet is coming to the Country Tonite Theatre! Enjoy one of two performances of “The Nutcracker,” presented by the Great Smoky Mountain Dance Theatre, and follow Clara’s adventures with the Nutcracker Prince, Mouse King, and Sugar Plum Fairy. On Dec. 15 at 2 p.m., attendees will enjoy a special hip-hop performance – “Da Nutcracka.” CS

You Also Might Like

[related_post post_id=""]
CityScope Celebrating 30 Years Logo

Get access to the next issue before it hits the stands!