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Smoky Mountain Winterfest begins on Monday | News

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Smoky Mountain Winterfest begins on Monday

The 25th annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest in Sevier County kicks off Monday.


The holiday cheer begins with the annual Music, Lights and Magic kickoff event in Sevierville. The free event runs from 3 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Sevierville Municipal Complex at 110 Gary Wade Boulevard.

This year's event includes free seasonal treats like hot cocoa, egg nog ice cream and caramel apples. Other activities include outdoor holiday movies, photos with Santa, face painting, kids' games, performances from local dance groups and choirs and fireworks.

The City of Sevierville partnered with Operation Warm Wings and the Sevier County Food Ministry for a Winterfest coat drive. Event attendees are encouraged to bring a new or gently used coat to donate the organizations. Operation Warm Wings needs new coats in children's sizes 4, 5, 6 and 7. Sevier County Food Ministry will accept new or gently used coats of any size. Donors will receive a commemorative 25th anniversary Winterfest ornament for each coat given.

For more information, visit Sevierville's website.

Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge will kickoff its Smoky Mountain Winterfest contributions on Tuesday.

The kickoff event begins after the Salute to Veterans Parade at 4:30 p.m. with a lighting ceremony at the intersection of River Road and Old Mill Avenue near Patriot Park.

After the ceremony, visitors can take a complimentary ride on the Trolley Tour of Lights. The rides are free only during the kickoff celebration.

More information on Pigeon Forge's kickoff celebration is available at the city's website.


Gatlinburg will wrap up the opening celebrations on Wednesday with the annual Winter Magic Kickoff and Chili Cookoff.

The event runs from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. on the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg.

Street events and performances are free. The entertainment line-up includes up and coming singers EmiSunshine and Sonia Leigh.

Tickets for unlimited chili tasting cost $10. They're available online on the city's website.

Winterfest history

Smoky Mountain Winterfest began in 1989 as a collaborative effort between Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevier County and Dollywood to extend the tourism travel season into the winter months by offering holiday family entertainment and light displays. It's proven wildly successful over the years.

Sevier County reported lodging occupancy increased from 20 percent in 1989 to 64 percent in 2014. Attraction sales grew from just under $1 million to more than $10 million and Sevier County's unemployment rate decreased from 15 percent in 1989 to about 4.5 percent during the months of Winterfest.

This year's festival includes more than 12 million lights.

Smoky Mountain Winterfest runs through Feb. 28, 2015.

A complete list of events is available here.


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