Celebrate Smoky Mountain Holiday Traditions

Enjoy a cozy and festive holiday escape full of small town festivities and gorgeous winter-time mountain views. Tap into dazzling light displays, multiple small town parades, pop-up shopping events, theater events and, of course, appearances by Santa Claus. Take part in the holiday cheer happening across the Smoky Mountains at one of these great events.

Our Top Picks For Holiday 2019 Events in the Smoky Mountains

People boarding The Polar Express in Bryson City
The Polar Express. Photo courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.

The Polar Express Train Ride

November 8 – December 31, 2019

All aboard! The Polar Express is waiting to take you and your family on a fantastic holiday ride to The North Pole to meet Santa Claus. This 1¼ hour round-trip excursion comes to life as the train departs the Bryson City depot for a journey through the quiet wilderness. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, guests on board will enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while  they listen and read along with the magical story. Children’s faces show the magic of the season when the train arrives at the North Pole to find Santa Claus waiting. Santa will board the train, greet each child and present them with a special gift as in the story, their own silver sleigh bell. Christmas carols will be sung on the return back to the Bryson City Depot.

Christmas on Main – Andrews

November 23, 2019, All day

Andrews, NC, kicks off the holiday season with their Christmas On Main celebration the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Explore over 100 vendors to meet all your holiday gift needs, listen to great music and stay for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting at 4:00 pm.

Sylva Holiday Festivities

November 29 – December 1, 2019 – various times

Embrace small town holiday cheer as Sylva welcomes the Christmas season. Gather around the historic courthouse steps for the annual Christmas tree lighting, join Santa for photos, and gather on Main Street  for the “Christmas Past and Present Parade.”

Cashiers Christmas on the Green

Friday, November 29, 2019, 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

The Village Green transforms to a winter wonderland during Cashiers‘ annual Festival of the Trees, a whimsical display of holiday cheer from Thanksgiving weekend through the New Year! Bring the kids to meet Santa and stay to have cocoa and s’mores during the annual Cashiers Christmas Tree Lighting.

Kids on ice slide in Franklin
Winter Wonderland in Franklin

Cullowhee Mountain Artisans Hard Candy Christmas

November 29 – 30, 2019, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Get a jump start on holiday shopping at a two-day event in Cullowhee featuring approximately 100 local and regional artisans sharing their best work with you for that special gift.  Fresh cut evergreens, live music, and the finest arts and crafts around make this event a “Mountain Christmas Tradition.” Pick up a Cameo apple and peppermint candy piece and catch the Christmas Spirit!

Maggie Gets Lit

November 30, 2019, 2:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Maggie Valley welcomes winter and the holiday season with “Maggie Gets Lit” the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Grab some hot cocoa, peruse the work of  local artists, get your picture with Old Saint Nick, and sing along with Christmas carolers as Miss Maggie lights the tree at town hall.

Franklin’s Winter Wonderland

November 30 & December 7, 2019, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Visit the town of Franklin for their 2019 Winter Wonderland festivities! Enjoy unique holiday experiences like living window displays, live sounds of the season, extended shopping hours, and you may even catch a glimpse of Santa! Attendees can witness the annual lighting of the Christmas tree during the first night of the event.

Christmas in Highlands

November 30, 2019, 6:00 p.m.

Highlands, NC, welcomes you to join them in their holiday celebrations for their annual tree lighting. Come meet Santa and enjoy cookies, cocoa and small-town Christmas spirit.

Waynesville Christmas Tree Lighting

December 6, 2019, 6:00 p.m.

Join in the merriment in downtown Waynesville with the lighting of the Christmas Tree. Warm up with some cocoa, peruse the downtown shops, and welcome the holiday season with carolers singing everyone’s favorite Christmas songs.

Dillsboro luminaries
Dillsboro luminaries. Photo courtesy of Discover Jackson NC

Dillsboro Festival of Lights and Luminaries

December 6, 7, 13, and 14, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Named one of the top 20 events in the southeast for December, Dillsboro Festival of Lights and Luminaries is a step back into Christmas past. Experience Christmas magic as the entire town transforms into a winter wonderland of lights, candles, laughter and song. 2500 luminaries light your way to shops and studios. Horse and buggy rides are available each night, shopkeepers provide live music and serve up holiday treats with hot cider and cocoa, carolers sing, and children visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The Carolina Christmas Show

December 6 – 7, 2019, 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Take in a heartwarming, Broadway-style show featuring the finest performers from Western North Carolina and special guest artists. Taking place at the Colonial Theater in Canton, NC, enjoy sacred and secular Christmas favorites, including Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, O Holy Night, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, and Go Tell it On the Mountain.

Robbinsville Christmas Parade

December 7, 2019, 6:00 p.m.

The Town of Robbinsville will ring in the start of the holiday season with the Robbinsville Christmas Parade. Floats, Cars, Fire Trucks, Santa, and much more are in store. Bring the family to enjoy the excitement of Christmas.

Murphy Christmas Market

December 7, 2019, 11:00 a.m.

Head to the L&N Depot in downtown Murphy to shop from a wide variety of vendors. This is a great opportunity to support local crafters and purchase unique gifts for friends and family.

Sylva NC holiday display
Sylva, NC, holiday display.

Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas parade

December 7, 2019, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Come watch an olde fashioned Christmas parade make it’s way down Highlands‘ Main Street. There is everything from a live nativity, dancers, and a special appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Clause. Join Santa after the parade to tell him what you want for Christmas, and stick around to check your status on Santa’s list.

The Biggest Little Christmas Parade in the Smokies

December 7, 2019, 2:00 p.m.

Takes to the streets of Bryson City for their annual Christmas parade, featuring floats, fire trucks, bands, classic cars, beauty queens, and Santa! Take the kids to the Swain County Heritage Museum and enjoy cookies and cocoa while sharing your holiday wishes

“Candy Cane Christmas” Waynesville Christmas Parade

December 9, 2019, 6:00 p.m.

The highly anticipated Christmas parade returns! Enjoy this annual community tradition as numerous illuminated entries parade down Main Street Waynesville celebrating the spirit of the holidays. Santa Claus makes a special appearance as the guest of honor!

A Night Before Christmas

December 14, 2019, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Waynesville turns into a holiday playground for children and children at heart. Shop and dine along a luminary lined street, tell Santa (and Mrs. Claus, too!) your Christmas wishes, and enjoy musicians and carolers.

Hometown Holiday Festival – Robbinsville

December 14, 2019, 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Revel in the Christmas cheer with the Hometown Holiday Festival at Robbinsville High School. Santa will be stopping by along a variety of vendors to meet all your holiday shopping needs. Sip on hot cocoa and sing along with carolers.

Andrews Magic on Main Electric Christmas Parade

December 14, 2019, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

The Magic on Main Electric Christmas Parade is Andrews’ crowning jewel for the holidays, Delight in over 50 lighted float, and see if you can tell who will win the Best in Show trophy. Stop by the Chamber office before the parade to pick up a candy bag for the kids (gotta have something to put all of that candy in). Grab some light sticks from Valleytown Cultural Arts and Historical Society.

Cherokee Light and Legend Christmas

December 15 – 17, 2019 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Cherokee, NC, welcomes all to celebrate the Christmas season each evening at the Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds. Enjoy craft making, games and food and items from a variety of vendors. Make sure to take a few laps on the skating rink! Free admission, individual games/experiences nominal fee. Cash only.

Christmas At Home Parade – Cherokee

December 16, 2019, 5:30 p.m.

Marching bands, floats, and lights galore! The Cherokee Christmas at Home Parade has all that and more. Following the parade, gather at the Cherokee Welcome Center for the annual lighting ceremony of the 40-foot Christmas tree!