Tennessee's Holiday Season Is Full Of Singing

Thursday, November 12, 2015 - by Amanda Stravinsky

The Soundtrack of America is always playing in Tennessee, especially during Christmas. Hark what Tennessee sings in parades, at attractions and in house museums across the state: Christmas has come and with it the glorious sounds of the season.

West

Trisha Yearwood flips the switch, illuminating and starting Christmas at Graceland which shows how Elvis Presley decorated Graceland during the holiday season.

The mansion, adorned in red velvet drapes and Christmas decorations from the Presley family, showcases hundreds of blue lights, a life-size Nativity scene, Santa, and interior and exterior lights through Jan. 8, 2016.

A Christmas glow can be found starting Nov. 20 at the Memphis Zoo during Zoo Lights 2015. Activities include rides through Zoo Lights on the tram, a China carousel, animal encounters, hot chocolate and treats, hundreds of Christmas light displays and live reindeer. Snow blankets the property and the 200 ft.-long tunnel of light is back, serving an extra dose of magic.

Middle

This year’s A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort will include two million lights, ICE! featuring The Nutcracker and “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.” Grammy Award-winning Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers have a new Christmas dinner show that blends their harmonies with holiday favorites. Two million pounds of colored ice tells The Nutcracker story in a new way as the original Tchaikovsky score is played while guests walk through the ICE! exhibit. Experience snow tubing and ice skating, The Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt throughout the hotel, and the outdoor Nativity by carriage ride.

Head to Franklin and you’ll think you’ve stepped into Charles Dickens’ classic stories during Dickens of a Christmas Dec. 12-13. Celebrating its 31st anniversary, Dickens of a Christmas incorporates 200 characters, dancers and entertainers from Charles Dickens’ stories like Fagin from “Oliver Twist,” Tiny Tim, Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley from “A Christmas Carol.” The Franklin police officers even get in on the fun, dressing up as English patrolmen. Sugar plums and roasted chestnuts are sold on the street; carriage rides are given; musical performances occur on the stage and in the street; and a town sing of classic Christmas carols heralds in this joyful time of year.

East

Smoky Mountain Winterfest blankets Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in millions of lights and holiday displays throughout the area. Christmas programs and holiday concerts are performed, bringing together the three cities for an unforgettable holiday season. Gatlinburg’s Annual Fantasy of Lights Dec. 4 hosts illuminated floats, characters like Charlie Brown, the Grinch, and, of course, Santa. During Smoky Mountain Christmas now through Jan. 3, 2016 at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, kids and kids at heart can enjoy four million lights throughout the park, performances, Dollywood’s A Christmas Carol, and Appalachian Christmas, an acoustic show of holiday classics. The area’s largest living Nativity, Santa and his elves, and lots of live animals that include a white lion and camels are all part of the Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry Theater through Jan. 3, 2016 in Pigeon Forge. Sevierville celebrates Winterfest with 15 million lights and is home to Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland through Jan. 3, 2016 at Smokies Stadium. Buy Winterfest 3D glasses for $1 that turn each Christmas light into a dazzling snowflake.

Speedway in Lights is the largest holiday light show in the South at Bristol Motor Speedway. Four miles and two million lights captivate visitors through Jan. 2, 2016. New this year is the BMS Express, a version of the Polar Express complete with hot chocolate and cookies that presents Speedway in Lights in a different way. Visitors can also take an open air tram ride on Santa’s Speedway Sleigh that makes a 30-minute stop in Christmas Village and includes blankets for cozying up and marshmallows for roasting.



Rivers To Oceans: An Evening With Ocean Explorer Fabien Cousteau

It’s almost unimaginable anyone would give a preschooler a weight belt, mask and air tank and invite them to dive into the open ocean. Unless of course, his or her last name is Cousteau. “I’ve been SCUBA diving since my fourth birthday,” laughs Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of famed ocean advocate and documentarian Jacques Cousteau. “It’s always been an integral part of my life. ... (click for more)

This Week's Tennessee Tourism Round Up

 Witness fire breathers, compete in a city-wide scavenger hunt, join an interpretive hike, watch a free movie under the stars, strike a pose with yoga on the field, listen to live music or go to festivals like the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree. Here are the events going on across Tennessee this week. For a complete list, visit  tnvacation.com/calendar . Ongoing ... (click for more)

Alexander Says There Is No Doubt Russia Interfered In 2016 Presidential Election

Senator Lamar Alexander on Monday released the following statement on Russia:   “There is no doubt that Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election. On July 3, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a bipartisan report that agreed with the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election. Last ... (click for more)

Senator Watson And Rep. Hazlewood Ask TDOT To Move Swiftly On Highway 127 Road Project Up Signal Mountain

State Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) and Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) have asked the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to move swiftly on the Highway 127 project leading up Signal Mountain. In a sternly-worded letter, the lawmakers asked TDOT Commissioner John Schroer to prioritize the road project due to further deterioration of the road. ... (click for more)

Here We Go Again With The Same Cummings Highway, 12th Street Flooding - And Response

Here we go again with the same pitiful news reports about the Cummings Highway Interstate interchange with I-24 - Flooding yet again after a heavy rain.  TDOT is derelict in not having repaired this years ago.  How hard is it to get some excavators out there to dig up the collapsed drainage pipes which TDOT says are the cause of the flooding and replace them with ... (click for more)

Deal With The Graffiti Vandals

I travel to other neat old cities and don't see nearly the graffiti vandalism as in Chattanooga. Why do we allow one or two or three repeat vandals to mar our venerable Walnut Street Bridge, the pillars to the Holmberg Bridge, the remodeled Chief John Ross Market Street Bridge, the walls along our multi-million-dollar Riverwalk, our sidewalks, street signs and our old limestone ... (click for more)