When the weather turns cooler and the days get shorter Gatlinburg gears up for Smoky Mountain Winterfest with a full slate of special events during its Winter Magic events.
The 24th Annual Chili Cook-off and Winter Magic Kickoff will take place 5-8 p.m. on Nov. 13 on the downtown parkway. The event features the ceremonial lighting of more than three million lights that make Gatlinburg a winter wonderland. Animated displays will be throughout the city and the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, some as much as 40 feet tall.
The Chili Cook-off features teams from local businesses, service organizations and restaurants vying to win trophies for cooking up the best batch of chili. While the street event is free, tickets for unlimited chili tasting are $10. There will be a hot chili eating contest and live music featuring Nashville-based Natalie Stovall & the Drive at one end of the parkway and the local band Tuatha Dea - a mixture of Celtic and rock - at the other end.
Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights will depart at 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. each evening, Nov. 13 through Dec. 30 from downtown for a guided tour of the lighting displays. Tickets are $5 and reservations are recommended.
The Festival of Trees, Nov. 26-30 at Mills Auditorium includes more than 75 decorated trees, a Santa Store, a gingerbread house competition and more. A luncheon at noon Nov. 26 kicks off the event. For tickets, call 865 908-3153.
Winter Magic Tunes and Tales features characters in costume singing, playing music and telling stories 5-9:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 29-Dec. 21, downtown. The cast includes a dulcimer-guitar duo, Christmas music performers, a four-piece band, a Dickens-style storyteller, elves, Frosty the Snowman and Mrs. Claus.
Nutcracker “Sweet” will be performed by the Great Smoky Mountain Dance Theater 7 p.m. Nov. 29-30 at the Gatlinburg Mills Auditorium. The award winning 38th Annual Christmas Fantasy of Lights Parade will step off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Thousands of people come to view the mile-long parade featuring lighted floats, marching bands, equestrian units, helium balloons and Santa Claus.
For more information, visit www.gatlinburg.com.