Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas – Lights, Trees, and a Parade of Many Colors

A month ago, the Dollywood Resort showed me their patch of Tennessee during a Smoky Mountain Christmas. I had heard great things about Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas event, and couldn’t wait to experience it first-hand.  I fell in love with the scenic beauty of the Dollywood theme park, the Smoky Mountains themselves, and the kindness and generosity of the people in the area.  Immediately following my visit, wildfires swept through the Smoky Mountains, devastating neighboring Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and continuing on up to the boundaries of Dollywood and Pigeon Forge.  The area needs our help and support more than ever, and Dolly Parton, along with a number of other performers, will host a benefit telethon today, Tuesday, December 13, to raise money for the area. I’d like to encourage everyone who can to visit Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, and put your tourist dollars to good work for the area. Dollywood is open and survived the fires unharmed, but many families who live and work in this tourist region were not so lucky. Continue reading for more of what you can expect during Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas.

Dollywood's Parade of Many Colors

Dollywood’s “Parade of Many Colors,” photo by Curtis Hilbun, courtesy of Dollywood

Dollywood Theme Park

Dollywood’s Christmas event is legendary, winning Golden Ticket’s Best Christmas Event nine years in a row. In fact, it’s the only park to ever receive this award.  Dollywood significantly upped the ante this year with a $2.5 million dollar edition – the Parade of Many Colors.

Like her 2016 NBC holiday movie, Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, Dolly Parton’s new parade celebrates the fun, faith, family and harmony of the holidays. Vibrant floats, interactive characters and a few other surprises help spread cheer throughout Dollywood this holiday season.

Dollywood's Parade of Many Colors

Dollywood’s “Parade of Many Colors,” photo by Curtis Hilbun, courtesy of Dollywood

“The joy I feel during the Christmas season makes my heart sing because of the love and sweet Christmas memories I have of family and friends from when I was a child,” Parton said with a smile. “Christmas is the time of year when traditions, faith and family come together to create experiences we all remember forever. That is why my new movie and this parade are so important for me. I truly believe The Parade of Many Colors will inspire some of those same lifelong memories for the families who see it.”

Dollywood's Parade of Many Colors

Dollywood’s “Parade of Many Colors,” photo by Curtis Hilbun, courtesy of Dollywood

In addition, one of Dollywood’s greatest entertainment offerings was remastered in 2016, as Christmas in the Smokies, returned to its traditional home at D.P.’s Celebrity Theater. Guests can celebrate the joy of the season while a cast of singers and dancers perform hometown holiday favorites while accompanied by a band of live musicians.

Dollywood "Christmas in the Smokies"

Dollywood’s entertainment team brings a Christmas classic to life with the debut of It’s a Wonderful Life. Based on the timeless holiday story of love and generosity, small town businessman George Bailey discovers the true value of life, family and friends with a little help from his guardian angel, Clarence.

Dollywood "It's a Wonderful Life"Dollywood "It's a Wonderful Life"

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort also gets into the Christmas spirit decorated head to toe with lights, greenery, and ornaments of all shapes and sizes.  The kids can find everything they need to compose their letters to Santa, and drop them off in the mail box on the front porch.

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort

In the DreamMore’s “family room” you’ll find holiday crafts, cookie decorating, hot apple cider, a pianist playing carols and music, seasonal bedtime stories, and Christmas tree light show by the pool.

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort

The 300-room resort is situated on 20 acres next door to Dollywood theme park, and features spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Resort perks include free transportation to both Parks, front-of-the-line access for theme park rides and shows, and more.

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort

Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure

Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure is a brand new dinner show attraction just opened in May 2016, and they’ve added a special holiday tale for families to discover the spirit of a Smoky Mountain Christmas.

In the show two families, the Wheelers and McGregors, both known for supplying the Great Smoky Mountains with Christmas trees, display amazing lumberjack skills, incredible acts of acrobatic agility and breathtaking aerial performances as they explore the hillsides and—at the same time—the true meaning of Christmas.

Families enjoy songs, dance, and lumberjack skills while dining on a feast of fried chicken, pulled pork BBQ, and Lumberjack Adventure’s specialty dessert.  The show culminates with a live Nativity scene (yes, with animals) set to Dolly Parton’s version of “Little Drummer Boy.”

Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure

Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede

If Lumberjack Adventure is the newest dinner attraction in the Smokies, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede is billed as the funnest dinner attraction, and they add a Christmas wrinkle to their four-course feast as well.  The Christmas show at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede features all the sights and sounds of the season including a full-scale living Nativity, holiday decorations, and Santa Claus. The stars of the show challenge each other to barrel races and other competitions, all in the name of Dixie Stampede’s friendly Christmas rivalry between the North and South Poles.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

One of the things that struck me during my visit to the Dollywood Resort was the philanthropy and generosity of the Dollywood Company.  A portion of the proceeds from all Dollywood Resort attractions are donated to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  Founded in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library began as a small community outreach in Parton’s native Sevier County, Tennessee, and has evolved to become the largest literacy program in the world.  Now, the “little literacy program that could” marked another impressive milestone — one million books gifted to children around the world each and every month.

Evey Johns, a two-year-old from Conway, Arkansas, received a $30,000 college scholarship from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, image courtesy Dollywood Resort

Evey Johns, a two-year-old from Conway, Arkansas, received a $30,000 college scholarship from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, image courtesy Dollywood Resort


To celebrate the unprecedented success, Evey Johns, a two-year-old from Conway, Arkansas, who just enrolled in the library, was randomly selected to receive a $30,000 college scholarship. The announcement was made by Parton during her Pure & Simple concert tour stop in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee on November 15. The concert raised $500,000 to benefit the Imagination Library.

dolly parton

Dolly Parton performs at her Pure & Simple concert tour stop in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee on Nov. 15, image courtesy Dollywood Resort

“I thought long and hard about the best way to honor our achievement of reaching a million children a month,” Parton said. “The Imagination Library is all about inspiring dreams, so what better way to pay tribute to this moment than by helping one special child pursue her college degree. I’m thrilled that today I can let the world know that precious little Evey Johns from Conway, Arkansas will receive a $30,000 scholarship for the college of her choice.”

And what says Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas more than the act of giving?  To support the families and victims of the Great Smoky Mountain wildfires in eastern Tennessee, consider donating to the My People Fund which will provide $1,000 each month to families who lost their homes in Sevier County.

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.