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.


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.


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.


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.

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