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Everything to Get You Ready for the Dollywood Christmas Festival: TIPS from an Insider!

There are big things coming to the Smoky Mountains just in time for the Holidays. Don’t miss out on all these great Dollywood Christmas Events!

If you live in the Southeast or are planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains in the next couple of months, you’re in luck. While I love warmer months, the beautiful decorations, lights, and sounds of the season make November and December one of the best times to visit the area, especially my favorite… Dollywood!

©Curtis Hilbun/Dollywood

And since I’m a Dollywood Insider again, you can expect lots of behind the scenes and tips on how to make the most of spending a day at Dollywood in December. And even November too, since the festival kicks off a little earlier than ever before!

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, kicks off on November 5th and is one of the world’s premier theme park events. The festival has been nominated as part of USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards for Best Theme Park Holiday Event. 

Smoky Mountain Christmas already has won the 2019 Golden Ticket award from Amusement Today for Best Theme Park Christmas Event in the world, an award the festival has earned for 14 consecutive years. In fact, Dollywood is the only park in the world to ever win the award!

And you can bet that the festival will be bigger and brighter than ever because Dollywood was also named the #1 Theme Park in the US this year by TripAdvisor – some amazing awards in 2022 for sure!

So, let’s get to it. Dollywood in December is one of the most beautiful sights you’ll see in the area, but a lot of people have questions about visiting in the colder months. I’ve put together a list of those questions and answers from a Dollywood Insider perspective to get you ready for your winter visit to the Smoky Mountains!

FAQs about Dollywood In December

+ Are Dollywood rides open in December?

Yes, they are! Almost all of the Dollywood rides stay open all year around. A couple that you would expect to be closed are the water rides, like Daredevil Falls and Smoky Mountain River Rampage. A few of the rides do have to close at certain temperatures to follow ride manufacture guidelines, but they aren’t closed for the entire month of December.

+ When does Dollywood decorate for Christmas?

It takes a long time to put up over 5 million lights! Dollywood starts decorating for Christmas in August, if you can believe it!

In fact, this year they were decorating for Christmas even earlier. That’s because Dolly Parton was often seen in the park as she shot a new holiday special that will air later this year! I’ll share more details on that as it’s released.

+ Dollywood Christmas Dates

Smoky Mountain Christmas will run from November 5th until January 1, 2023. The park is closed a few days in November and December – mainly Mondays and Tuesdays. The park is also closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Be sure to check the official Dollywood calendar for those specific closed dates.

+ Dollywood Christmas Hours

During the entire Smoky Mountain Christmas festival the park will be open from 11am – 9pm. Again, check the calendar to be sure the park is open on the day you plan to visit!

+ Should I buy season passes to visit Dollywood in December?

There’s no better time to visit than Dollywood in December under the 5 million twinkling lights. AND there’s no better time to buy a Dollywood Season Pass because if you buy during the Christmas festival, you’ll get the whole season of 2023 free!

Get all the details and learn how you can purchase on a 9 month payment plan + get bring-a-friend-free passes too, here.

+ What can you do at Dollywood in December?

The better question would be what can you not do – Dollywood in December is just as great as any time of the year, if not better!

Here are all the great things that are happening, thanks to Dollywood Christmas festivities!

©Curtis Hilbun/Dollywood

Dollywood Christmas Lights

The Christmas lights at Dollywood are bigger, better, brighter and MORE every year. This year there are over 5 million lights to walk through this year!

A couple of my absolute favorite light displays are Glacier Ridge, which you’ll find if you turn left after entering Dollywood and head up the hill towards Wild Eagle. You also want to be sure to see the light show in The Plaza with the huge music and light show with the huge Christmas Tree – in fact it’s a 50 foot animated tree.

Dollywood Christmas Shows

As soon as the 2022 Dollywood Christmas shows are announced, I’ll update this post with all the information you need to know like: Show titles, locations, and even the Christmas in Dollywood cast members!

Dollywood Christmas Parade

As of now, I don’t have specific information about the Dollywood Christmas Parade and if it will return for 2022. If it does, I’ll be sure to update this post.

Here’s the info for years past: If you’re staying late, you don’t want to miss the nightly light parade, Parade of Many Colors, an exciting holiday tradition which begins at 8:15 p.m. nightly on operating days. The Parade of Many Colors includes vibrant floats, interactive characters and a number of other surprises sure to inspire guests with its heart-warming message.

Insider Tip: Want to know the best place to see the parade? Head over and have dinner at the Front Porch Cafe, one of our family’s favorite restaurants on park, and you can enjoy the parade from the warm indoors! 

Dollywood Christmas Hotel

Dollywood DreamMore Resort Snow

It’s also a fabulous time to stay at the DreamMore Resort. If you think Dollywood is beautiful during Christmastime, you have to see DreamMore.

I wrote an entire post about why you should visit DreamMore during the winter and with the perks you’ll receive during the Christmas season, like free trolley rides to Dollywood and Time-Saver passes, it’s a great time to stay. 

And no visit to Dollywood during cold weather is complete without a loaf of Cinnamon Bread and a mug of hot chocolate! Be sure to add a visit to The Grist Mill to your family’s traditions!

More Amazing Dollywood Christmas Activities

– Light the Way 5K

Whether you run or walk, you HAVE to do the Light the Way 5K at least once. My husband and I did it a few of years ago and had fun, even though it was only 18 degrees! Brrr!

And we’ve signed up to do it again this year – this time with our 10 and 12 year olds! You’ll run or walk amidst the park’s 5 million Christmas lights. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind event!

In addition to the beauty of the event, proceeds go for a great cause. The event benefits Keep Sevier Beautiful (KSB) and the Share It Forward (SIF) program at Dollywood.  KSB, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is a volunteer-based organization which focuses on waste reduction/recycling, litter prevention and beautifying public spaces through education and community based programs. 

KSB’s goal is to protect the natural beauty of the area that millions of visitors come to see each year.  SIF is a non-profit charity established for the purpose of raising and using funds to assist The Dollywood Company employees and their families in times of need.

The program is funded through employee donations which are matched dollar for dollar by The Dollywood Company and, up to specified limits, by the shareholders of Herschend Family Entertainment, the park’s operating partner.

The race will be held on Friday, November 15th. Registration and race day fee is $50. You can register in advance here and you may want to hurry as only 2,019 runners will be allowed.

Christmas Dinner Shows in Pigeon Forge

While Dolly Parton’s Stampede and Pirate’s Voyage are two of the most popular dinner shows in town, there are others you should add to your calendar to see in November and December too! Each of those have a special holiday themed show, as well as Hatfield and McCoy and Smoky Mountain Opry! 

There you have it – tons of info on how to spend the best time of the year… Dollywood at Christmas!

Christmas in Dollywood 2022 will be one of the best festivals in Dollywood history and you definitely don’t want to miss it!Save

Deborah D

Sunday 26th of February 2017

I want to go to Dollywood so bad. My cousin went and loved it.

Bryan Vice

Sunday 27th of November 2016

Never been to Dollywood at Christmas but would love to take my family sometime


Thursday 3rd of November 2016

I love love love Dollywood at Christmastime!! I can't wait to get see it all lit up! I want to go to the Christmas of Many Colors premiere but hubby is having back surgery that day. :o( Jokingly told him I was gonna drug him up and then take the girls. He was totally on board!

My girls have done Dixie Stampede & Lumberjack Adventure but I haven't had a chance yet. Hopefully we can go soon!!