America's Best Theme Park Christmas Event Returns for 2023

November 4, 2023
America's Best Theme Park Christmas Event Returns for 2023

Guests can experience more than 6 million lights during Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas

Santa won’t be the only thing flying high above Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana this season. Smoky Mountain Christmas, which undoubtedly can be described as one of America’s most cherished Christmas traditions, captivates visitors with the rich essence of the holiday season thanks to its gleaming holiday lights, award-winning stage productions, Christmas culinary masterpieces and warm family customs that have enriched the festival for more than three decades.

“Christmas is the time when the love of family, the joy of togetherness and the hope of a brighter tomorrow all seem to shine the brightest,” Dolly explained. “It’s also the time of year when those special family memories and traditions just seem to mean the most to us all.”

“I want our guests this Christmas season to celebrate that special light while they are here with us. I hope they’ll stop and enjoy the moments spent together in the beauty of this special place. Those are the moments that everyone will remember many years from now—when the kids are grown up with kids of their own, and the whole family is reminiscing about special times during Christmases past.”

Not only did Smoky Mountain Christmas earn this year’s Golden Ticket Award for Best Theme Park Christmas event, it also is nominated for USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Theme Park Holiday event. Voting is now underway and ends on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 11:59 a.m. A voting link can be found at Dollywood fans can vote once per day, per device. 

Joyful Drone Show – New for 2023

The 15-time winner for Best Theme Park Christmas Event boasts more than 6 million shining, shimmering lights throughout the park, but the newest ones will fly above the park each evening as part of a stunning holiday drone show.

The spirit of Christmas shines merry and bright during Smoky Mountain Christmas (Nov. 4- Jan. 6, 2024), but the new Joyful drone show adds even more holiday fun for guests to enjoy. This larger-than-life display embraces the season with hundreds of drones soaring in the air and displaying festive reds, greens and whites in a captivating show sure to delight every guest. Park officials added the merry-making show following the success of the park’s summer drone show the past few seasons.

Captivating Experiences and Dazzling Entertainment

Holiday splendor is abundant this Christmas with captivating elements throughout the park providing unexpected delight for guests at every twist and turn.  In one of the most unique experiences during the Christmas season at Dollywood, Santa has granted exclusive access for visitors to glimpse into his enchanting Smoky Mountain cabin. Guests will be guided to take a look into Santa’s cozy hideaway, where he can be found hard at work on the all-important naughty and nice list. Children and families will be able to peek into Santa’s cabin and seek to find their names on the coveted list. Santa goes on a well-deserved vacation after Christmas Day, so families wanting to see him in action shouldn’t wait!

Glacier Ridge presented by Goo Goo Cluster fills Dollywood’s Timber Canyon, Wildwood Grove, Wilderness Pass and Upper Craftsman’s Valley with an expansive arctic experience sure to delight guests. The Plaza at Wilderness Pass undergoes an extraordinary transformation that immerses guests in a wintry paradise and serves as one of the highlights of the area thanks, to the Wonderful Christmas! Plaza Tree Show. Featuring a 50 ft. tall animated tree, the area comes to life in a fully-synchronized, dazzling light show that concludes with an immersive snow finale.

Dollywood’s family-favorite shows light up both indoor and outdoor stages. The festival’s headline show, “Christmas in the Smokies,” has been a guest-favorite production and a must-see for families every Christmas season since it began in 1990. Many other Dollywood Christmas classics return including “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “O’ Holy Night,” “Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs,” “Heart of the Holidays,” “Candlelight Carolers,” “The Mistletones,” “Appalachian Christmas with the Smoky Mountain String Band,” “Holiday Wild Roots” and more.

As always, guests can experience the thrill of Dollywood’s world-class rides amidst the hustle and bustle of the park during the holidays, as most rides are operational during the Christmas season. Nothing compares to soaring through the night sky with millions of lights twinkling below.

Festive Food Offerings

For those looking to celebrate the holidays with the perfect family meal, Dollywood’s team of chefs have a menu full of culinary surprises sure to delight. From oven-roasted turkey breast and chipotle turkey nachos to pork belly skillet and pot roast mac & cheese, there are a number of savory items to satisfy every appetite. Sweet treats abound including red velvet whoopie pie, eggnog cupcakes, toffee hot chocolate, festive Christmas cookies and more!

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and Spa

The Christmas fun makes its way to Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, providing guests with even more ways for families to make lasting memories this holiday season. To create a truly immersive Smoky Mountain Christmas experience, the resort is offering a plethora of holiday-inspired activities, crafts, entertainment, breathtaking décor and culinary options.

The resort’s halls are decked in beautiful Christmas décor inspired by warm, rich traditions of Christmas in the Smoky Mountains. The centerpiece is a jaw-dropping two-story Christmas tree that graces both levels of the lobby. DreamMore Resort’s culinary team prepares delicious holiday meals in Song & Hearth: A Southern Eatery. Guests can gather together to give thanks and enjoy a flavorful meal throughout the season or experience one of four special holiday dining experiences—Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day brunch or New Year’s Eve dinner.

Dollywood's HeartSong Lodge & Resort

Dollywood’s newly-opened HeartSong Lodge & Resort is decking the halls for the first time with Christmas décor and festivities, providing even more ways to make guests’ days merry and bright. This highly-anticipated lodging experience provides guests with a variety of unique experiences, dining options and activities, making it the ideal Smoky Mountain getaway for the holiday season.

In line with HeartSong Lodge’s essence of seamlessly blending indoor and outdoor spaces, its halls are decorated in the rich yet muted hues found in the Smokies. Through the extravagant four-story lantern-inspired windows, guests will be able to take in a 22-ft. natural cut Fraser fir located between the Lodge’s fire feature and outdoor pool, which will serve as the focal point both inside and outside. Families will be welcomed to the holiday table at HeartSong Lodge’s restaurant Ember & Elm: Tastes Rooted in the Smokies, a unique dining destination where guests will find an unforgettable feast crafted by the culinary team for both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

2024 Season Passes Now Available

For anyone searching for the perfect Christmas gift of family fun and memories, a Dollywood season pass is the solution! Diamond or gold season passes purchased during Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas provide admission to this year’s Christmas festival along with admission for Dollywood’s entire 2024 operating season. Guests can purchase their 2024 season pass online now or upgrade their paid one-day admission ticket on the day of their visit. Ticket purchasers receive credit for the value of a regular one-day ticket toward the purchase of a 2024 season pass. The 2024 season features the highly-anticipated opening of the Dolly Parton Experience, which will include multiple experiences in a newly-designed area of the park. Opening in the area surrounding and including the former Chasing Rainbows museum, The Dolly Parton Experience will allow guests a behind-the-scenes look at Dolly’s iconic status and immerse themselves in her incredible story.

For more information and a park operating calendar, please visit or download the Dollywood app.