Candy Land Christmas Johnson City

10 Merry Tennessee Winter Festivals & Holiday Attractions

As you seek a winter destination that sparkles with festive charm, set your sights on Tennessee. This region, renowned for its natural beauty, transforms into a wonderland of holiday delights, offering an array of attractions that promise to make your season merry and bright.

Check out these Tennessee winter festivals and holiday attractions during your winter getaway!

Let it Glow Discovery Park
Let it Glow Discovery Park, Union City TN | photo credit: Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Begin Your Journey With “Let it Glow” at Discovery Park | Union City

“Let it Glow” at Discovery Park of America in Union City offers a unique holiday experience that begins with a captivating drive through a landscape of lights. Picture yourself navigating a path surrounded by brilliantly lit arches and trees, each twinkling light contributing to an atmosphere of enchantment.

This event is not just about passive observation: It’s also about interaction and engagement. The light sculptures you’ll encounter are dynamic and varied, ranging from playful holiday scenes to elegant designs, all illuminated to create a visually stunning experience.

An exciting feature of your visit will be the chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. This opportunity adds a personal touch to your experience, perfect for family photos or a special moment with the jolly couple.

Beyond the lights, explore Mill Ridge for unique gift-shopping opportunities. This area offers a selection of local handmade items that are ideal for those seeking distinctive holiday gifts. It’s not just a shopping experience: It’s a chance to support local artisans and find something truly unique.

Also, Mill Ridge hosts a variety of festive activities. Whether you’re interested in seasonal treats or holiday-themed workshops, there’s something here to enhance your holiday spirit.

Christmas in Collierville
Christmas in Collierville, Collierville TN | photo credit: Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Experience the Yuletide Splendor of Christmas | Collierville

Collierville Town Square transforms into a vibrant holiday destination, illuminated by over 250,000 holiday lights. This dazzling display creates a picturesque backdrop for a range of festive activities.

One of the highlights is the opportunity to meet Santa in the Gazebo. This classic holiday experience is perfect for families, offering a chance for children to interact with Santa and share their Christmas wishes.

Adding to the festive ambiance is a series of live music performances. These concerts, featuring a variety of artists, provide a lively soundtrack to your visit, enhancing the holiday mood with seasonal tunes and popular melodies.

For a unique experience, take a horse-drawn carriage ride. These rides offer a leisurely way to view the lights and decorations, adding a touch of old-world charm to your visit.

Gaylord Opryland ICE
Gaylord Opryland ICE, Nashville TN | photo credit: Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Immerse Yourself in the Magic of Gaylord Opryland’s ICE! | Nashville

At Gaylord Opryland’s ICE!, the magic of “The Polar Express” is vividly recreated through expertly crafted ice sculptures. This unique exhibit showcases the skill of artists who have transformed more than 2 million pounds of ice into scenes from the beloved movie. The attention to detail in these sculptures is remarkable, capturing the essence of the film’s characters and settings in frozen form.

In addition to the sculptures, ICE! offers a variety of winter activities. Ice skating provides a classic holiday pastime, suitable for all ages and skill levels. Whether gliding gracefully or taking your first tentative steps on the ice, this activity adds an element of playful adventure to your visit.

For those seeking more thrills, ice tubing offers a fast-paced and exhilarating experience. Slide down ice-covered slopes on a tube, feeling the rush of cold air and excitement as you race down these specially crafted lanes.

Rounding out the experience is a new Christmas dinner show. This show combines festive entertainment with a holiday meal, creating a memorable dining experience. It’s an opportunity to relax, enjoy a meal, and be captivated by a performance that embodies the spirit of the season.

Dive Into History With Holidays at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage | Nashville

At Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, your holiday celebration can take on a historical dimension. Engage in a hands-on DIY Christmas wreath workshop, where you can create your own festive decoration. This activity not only offers a personal touch to your holiday decor but also provides a unique way to connect with traditional holiday crafts.

Exploring the grounds of The Hermitage — a National Historic Landmark — adds an educational element to your visit. As you walk through the estate, you’ll gain insights into the history and significance of this site, including its connection to Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States.

The Winter Frolic event is designed to mirror the 1835 White House Christmas celebration hosted by Andrew Jackson. This historical reenactment offers a glimpse into past holiday traditions and festivities, providing a unique contrast to modern celebrations.

A key feature of the Winter Frolic in Nashville is the Yule Log Ceremony. This traditional event is rich in symbolism and history, representing warmth, light, and the welcoming of the new year. Participating in this ceremony offers a moment of reflection and connection to historical customs, making it a memorable part of your holiday experience.

Christmas on the Cumberland
Christmas on the Cumberland, Clarksville TN | photo credit: Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Enjoy the Holidays With Christmas on the Cumberland | Clarksville

At McGregor Park and Cumberland Riverwalk, the holiday season comes alive with the glow of over 1 million lights during Christmas on the Cumberland. This impressive display transforms the area into a luminous wonderland, creating a captivating backdrop for evening strolls and memorable photos.

The Christkindl Market, a key feature of the festivities, offers a taste of traditional German holiday markets. Here, you can browse through a variety of stalls selling artisan crafts, seasonal treats, and unique gifts, making it an ideal spot for holiday shopping or simply soaking in the festive atmosphere.

Horse-drawn carriage rides provide a charming way to experience the lights and decorations. These rides add a touch of old-world elegance to the festivities, allowing you to enjoy the holiday scenery in a relaxed, leisurely manner.

The Lighted Christmas Parade is another highlight, featuring a procession of floats, vehicles, and participants adorned with festive lights. This parade not only lights up the streets but also brings the community together in a vibrant celebration of the holiday spirit.

A visit to the Customs House Museum enhances the holiday experience with its Holiday Train Exhibit. This exhibit appeals to all ages, featuring intricate model train displays set in festive landscapes. It’s an enchanting attraction that captures the magic and nostalgia of the holiday season.

Candy Land Christmas Johnson City
Candy Land Christmas, Johnson City TN | photo credit: Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Celebrate Candy Land Christmas | Johnson City

Johnson City’s Candy Land Christmas — acclaimed as the Top Christmas Tree Display in America by Fox News — offers a remarkable transformation of its historic district into a festive winter wonderland. The event is characterized by an array of brightly lit Christmas trees, each meticulously decorated and glowing, creating a mesmerizing visual feast.

The centerpiece of this celebration is the Grand Christmas Tree Lighting event. This is not just a lighting of a tree but a festive spectacle, marking the beginning of the holiday season in Johnson City. The moment the tree is lit, the area bursts into a vibrant display of lights, symbolizing joy and the start of holiday festivities.

New displays added each year keep the experience fresh and exciting, ensuring that even repeat visitors have something new to admire. Ranging from traditional holiday scenes to innovative light arrangements, the displays contribute to the overall charm and allure of Candy Land Christmas.

Venture through the Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City | Chattanooga

Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights offers a journey through a landscape aglow with over 1 million LED lights. This event transforms Lookout Mountain into a radiant setting, where each section of the garden presents a unique theme and lighting arrangement, creating a diverse and immersive experience.

Visitors have the opportunity to meet Santa, adding a classic holiday element to the experience. This interaction is a highlight for children, offering a moment of magic and a chance to share their holiday wishes.

In addition to meeting Santa, guests can join Mrs. Claus in cookie decorating sessions. This activity is not only fun but also a way to engage in a hands-on, creative holiday tradition. It’s an experience that appeals to families and visitors of all ages.

Plus, the event features a variety of sweet treats, including hot chocolate and fried cookie dough. These indulgences add to the festive atmosphere, providing warmth and comfort on chilly evenings.

Beyond the millions of lights and holiday festivities, the Enchanted Garden of Lights serves a greater purpose by supporting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Chattanooga. This aspect adds a layer of meaning to the event as visitors contribute to a noble cause while enjoying the holiday experience.

Hunt for the Elf on the Shelf® | Knoxville

In downtown Knoxville, the Elf on the Shelf® scavenger hunt offers a unique and engaging way to celebrate the holiday season. This event turns the city into an interactive playground where families and friends can embark on a festive adventure.

Participants in the scavenger hunt search for the Elf on the Shelf® figures hidden in various locations around downtown. This activity encourages exploration and discovery, leading participants to various points of interest and, perhaps, some lesser-known spots in the city.

The scavenger hunt is not only a fun challenge but also a great opportunity for families to spend quality time together. It combines the excitement of a game with the joy of the holiday season, making for an enjoyable experience for participants of all ages.

This tradition adds an extra layer of holiday cheer to downtown Knoxville, inviting East Tennessee locals and visitors alike to engage with the city in a playful and festive way.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, Pigeon Forge, TN | photo credit: © Curtis Hilbun/Dollywood via Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Unwrap the Holidays at Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas | Pigeon Forge

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, an award-winning event, stands out with its display of over 6 million lights. This extensive array of lights blankets the park, turning it into a glowing wonderland that captures the essence of the holiday season.

A standout feature of this Smoky Mountains holiday event is the Joyful drone show. This modern addition brings a new dimension to the traditional holiday festivities. The show involves a fleet of drones equipped with lights and choreographed to create patterns and shapes in the sky. This high-tech display is synchronized with music, adding a dynamic and captivating element to the night sky.

The combination of traditional light displays and an innovative drone show makes Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas a unique and memorable holiday destination. It’s a blend of classic holiday charm and contemporary entertainment, appealing to a wide range of visitors in Pigeon Forge.

Marvel at Bristol’s Speedway in Lights | Bristol

The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights at the Bristol Motor Speedway is a standout holiday attraction, featuring a drive-through experience illuminated by over 2 million lights. This event transforms the speedway into a dazzling array of vibrant and whimsical light displays.

As visitors drive along the track, they are immersed in scenes that range from traditional holiday imagery to creative, fun-filled displays. Each section of the speedway offers a different theme, providing a varied and engaging experience throughout the journey.

This spectacle is not just visually stunning but also captures the essence of the holiday spirit, creating a memorable experience for visitors of all ages. The combination of the speedway setting and the extensive light displays makes this event a unique holiday destination.

Candy Land Christmas Johnson City
Candy Land Christmas, Johnson City TN | photo credit: Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Discover the Best Tennessee Winter Festivals & Holiday Attractions

In Tennessee, the winter season transcends conventional holiday fun, offering a rich sensory experience that melds the state’s natural beauty with a tapestry of cultural traditions.

The variety of events — from traditional Christmas markets to innovative light shows and historical reenactments, ensures that every moment spent in Tennessee during the holidays is filled with discovery and delight. This blend of nature, tradition, and innovation makes a holiday journey through Tennessee a truly unforgettable adventure.

TIP: If you’re looking for more holiday cheer, head to some of these Christmas towns in the United States.