Dollywood’s annual Smoky Mountain Christmas festival presented by Humana offers a lineup of award-winning Christmas shows, a dazzling display of four million holiday lights, and more than 20 rides and attractions, including Wild Eagle after dark. The seven-week festival, a five-time Golden Ticket Award winner for Best Christmas Event, provides an entertainment-filled occasion to celebrate the season in the Smoky Mountains.
“Singing Christmas carols, eating great food and enjoying the company of family and friends is what the holidays are all about,” Dolly Parton said. “My Smoky Mountain Christmas festival at Dollywood is that special place where folks can do all of that while they make their memories and celebrate their own traditions with the ones they love. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!”
New for 2012, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Miniature Railroad rolls onto the Wings of America stage area in Craftsman’s Valley. This fascinating multi-level model train display spans 1,000 square feet and features six different garden-scale model trains, complete with bridges and a working waterfall. The railroad travels through a beautifully decorated miniature landscape of live greenery and Christmas-themed buildings dotted with working lights. The exhibit rests amid six truckloads of natural stone.
The park’s remaining stages feature the sounds of Christmas, in a lineup that showcases An Appalachian Christmas, Christmas in the Smokies, Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs, Dollywood’s Christmas on Ice!, O’ Holy Night, and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Other entertainment includes Carol of the Trees, The Polar Express 4D Experience motion simulator and the nightly Parade of Lights (through Dec. 23). Open until Dec. 23, the activity filled Santa’s Workshop welcomes little ones to visit and share wishes with St. Nick.
Flavorful foods mix holiday favorites with new dishes at three holiday buffets offered at The Backstage, Aunt Granny’s and Miss Lillian’s restaurants. Prices vary; children and adult prices offered. Special holiday menu items are showcased throughout the park including eggnog, pumpkin and red velvet old-fashioned milkshakes at The Sweet Shoppe.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas guests can get a jump on the theme park’s 2013 season by upgrading a paid one-day admission ticket to a regular 2013 season pass for just $23 (plus tax). Ticket purchasers receive credit for the value of a one-day ticket ($56) toward the purchase of a 2013 season pass. The 2013 season pass provides unlimited admission to Dollywood’s 2013 season as well as unlimited admission to the 2012 Smoky Mountain Christmas festival. (A one-day ticket is valid for upgrade on the day of visit only.) Also, guests who purchase a Dollywood one-day ticket after 6 p.m. receive free admission to the park’s next operating day.
Dollywood’s 2013 season includes Cirque Shanghai (March 23-April 22); The Great American Country Show (May 10-Oct. 26); The Great American Summer with a nightly fireworks finale (June 22-Aug. 4); and Dollywood’s A Christmas Carol (Nov. 9-Jan. 4, 2012). Tennessee’s first water coaster, RiverRush, opens May 2013 at Dollywood’s Splash Country.
Smoky Mountain Christmas continues through December 30. Operating days and hours vary; visit Dollywood.com for details.
The local getaways examiner will try to get you into the holiday spirit, with a goal of featuring a different themed attraction each day this week, all culminating in a review of Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa on Sunday, December 2. Stay tuned!
Be sure to subscribe to this column, travel to some of the greatest local getaways around, all from the comfort of your desktop (or laptop, or PDA, or smartphone!) If you have a favorite local attraction you’d like to see profiled, please let me know. Also, be sure to follow me on twitter, and read my articles about motorsports, HOAs, elections, and restaurants.