Where Should I Stay In The Smokies?

If you’ve never visited the Great Smoky Mountains before, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is where to stay, whether you’re in town for just a couple of nights or for a whole week.

But that can be quite an overwhelming proposition. The Smokies corridor runs for nearly 30 miles, from Interstate 40 in Sevierville all the way to the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And in between, and in all the outlying areas, there are literally thousands of hotel and motel rooms, bed and breakfast inns, campsites and overnight rental properties to choose from. How do you pick?

There are a lot of factors to consider, including location, price and amenities. When it comes to location, it’s helpful to be close to all the things you want to do in the Smokies. But what if you want to see a pro baseball game in Sevierville one day, go to Dollywood the next, visit the aquarium in Gatlinburg the next and then spend some time in the national park? What’s the most strategic location to do all those things?

We’d like to suggest focusing your search on the corridor between Pigeon Forge and Wears Valley. That’s not only a central location to Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, but it’s also convenient to the national park. There’s actually a Wears Valley entrance to the park that most tourists don’t know about. It’s scarcely traveled and can quickly take you to destinations like Metcalf Bottoms, Tremont and Cades Cove.

At Timbercreek Cabin Rentals, most of our properties are located in this area, which our customers have found convenient not only to the highly visited areas but also to the “peaceful side of the Smokies,” as they call it, in Townsend, Tennessee.

Our Wears Valley cabins are all top-notch, high-quality, luxury properties, which means they’re also packed with amenities. All of our cabins have features like fully operational kitchens, game rooms, hot tubs, fireplaces, decks, whirlpool tubs and more. And with sizes ranging from one to five bedrooms, we have dozens of cabins designed to accommodate most any travel need, whether it’s a honeymoon or romantic getaway or a family reunion or corporate gathering.

And when it comes to price, you may find that cabins are your biggest bang for the buck, compared to hotels and B&Bs. For one thing, you’re getting a virtual home away from home, complete with separate bedrooms, private bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor living areas. Cabins even have laundry facilities to ensure that no one runs out of clean clothes on the trip. And by cooking at the cabin instead of eating out every meal, you can actually save money.

Also, the more people you have staying in a cabin, the more you can share the costs. Yes, larger cabins are more expensive, but when you split that among multiple families, you might be surprised how affordable staying in a cabin can be.

And don’t forget to check the specials on our website. We offer seasonal and other special discounts year ‘round, which will help you save even more money.

So before booking that next trip to the Smokies, consider staying in the Pigeon Forge/Wears Valley area with us here at Timbercreek Cabin Rentals.

Cabin Of The Week – Bear’s Den

If you’re looking for a fabulous mountaintop property that sleeps six guests, then you’ll find that Bear’s Den is a Goldilocks cabin; that is, it’s juuust right. With three bedrooms, each with a queen-size bed, this charming home away from home in the Smokies will have you all set to get the most out of your next trip to the mountains, be it a family trip, a getaway for multiple couples or even just a bunch of friends. It’s convenient to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville while also delivering plenty of privacy and seclusion.

Bear’s Den’s biggest asset is its location, perched high on a mountain and offering outstanding views of surrounding hills and valleys. And there are plenty of ways to enjoy those beautiful sights, whether it’s looking out the array of main-level windows from the climate-controlled comfort of the great room or relaxing on one of the multilevel cabin’s decks. You might cool off in summer by kicking back in the shade of the outdoor dining area on the main level, or in winter, you can keep things warm by soaking in the views while you also soak in the hot tub on the lower level.

Inside, the cabin was designed with comfort and luxury in mind. The main floor offers a living area with leather seating group, wood-burning fireplace and an entertainment system complete with cable TV, PlayStation 2 and a library of movies. This level has one bedroom, which comes with cable TV and its own adjacent bathroom.

Nearby, the full kitchen comes equipped with everything you’ll need to prepare your own meals, if you like, whether it’s a simple breakfast or a full-blown sit-down meal at the log dining table. (By the way, that table is also a great spot for playing board games or putting a puzzle together.)

The master bedroom is on the top level, and it comes with cable TV, a leather chair that makes a great reading spot, and a large whirlpool tub for unwinding after a long day of sightseeing or shopping. The private balcony is ideal for looking out on the views afforded by Great Smoky Mountains National Park or for relaxing with a morning cup of coffee and your own quiet thoughts.

The third bedroom is on the downstairs level, and it also has its own cable TV and private bathroom. This level is also where you’ll find the game area with pool table. Both the bedroom and game room open onto the lower deck, where you’ll find that the fire pit makes a great place for the gang to gather any time of year. Great bonding moments await as you roast marshmallows, tell stories or just gaze at the stars.

Of course, this is just one of the many properties we have in our inventory at Timbercreek Cabin Rentals. We have secluded Gatlinburg cabins, as well as properties in Pigeon Forge and Wears Valley, that give our guests multiple options when it comes to size, location and amenities. Whether you’re looking for a secluded honeymoon spot or a large, spacious lodge for hosting a reunion or corporate outing, we have lots of cabins from which to choose.

New Year’s Eve in the Smokies

It’s New Year’s Eve, that annual event when we say goodbye to an old year – with all its ups and downs – and ring in a fresh new year, one that comes unblemished and full of hope and promise. For those of you looking for a festive way to celebrate the occasion, we’ve got a couple of options lined for places to go and things to do to usher in 2015.

One of the best known New Year’s Eve events in the area is the annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show, which is marking its 27th year in the Smokies. Taking place at the intersection of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail in downtown Gatlinburg, this is one show that truly welcomes the new year with a bang.

Tens of thousands of revelers will gather near the base of the Space Needle attraction, and at the stroke of midnight, fireworks will begin booming from the top of the 400-foot-tall Space Needle, accompanied by special music that’s timed to go along with the pyrotechnics presentation. This year, the Space Needle also boasts rhythmically timed LED lights, which will only add to the impressive visual display.

If you don’t want to gather with the masses at the base of the Space Needle, you can always plan to watch from a distance, perhaps from your balcony at a local motel/hotel or from another vantage point on the Parkway. Of course, downtown Gatlinburg’s many restaurants and night spots will also be open on New Year’s Eve, offering visitors plenty of alternative gathering spots for ringing in 2015.

Meanwhile, in Pigeon Forge, there will also be New Year’s Eve happenings going down at The Island multipurpose development, which is located between Parkway and Teaster Lane, not far from the outlet malls.

It all gets started at 6 p.m. with live music performances by Joe The Show and a showcase by The Live Rock ‘n’ Roll Theater, followed by headliners Fairview Union. This family-friendly event will also include face painting and kids’ activities throughout the evening, culminating in a countdown to midnight and a fireworks spectacle to usher in 2015.

The Island is a popular new tourist destination in Pigeon Forge, which offers visitors a wide array of things to do, from attractions like the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel to notable restaurants like Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville to numerous specialty shops. There’s plenty of parking on site and shuttle transportation from the parking area to The Island itself.

It may be a little late to book one of our cabins for tonight, but when it comes to your next trip back to the Smokies, be sure to explore all the properties we have to offer at Timbercreek Cabins, Pigeon Forge. We have dozens of luxury properties not only near Pigeon Forge but also Wears Valley, Gatlinburg and Sevierville. It’s a great alternative to hotels and motels when you’re looking for comfort, amenities and scenic beauty in the Smokies.

Where Do Our Christmas Traditions Come From?

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas in the Smokies while staying in one of our cabins in Pigeon Forge or whether you’re sharing the experience with family at your own home, you’re probably partaking in any number of Christmas traditions, including essential ones like putting up a Christmas tree or waiting for Santa Claus to arrive with his reindeer in the middle of the night.

These days, we pretty much take these holiday components as a given, as if they’d always been around. But much of what we associate with the celebration of Christmas has actually only been a part of our American culture for the past century or so. Ever wonder how we wound up with the Christmas identity that we know today? This week, we’ll be sharing a little background on how our modern-day holiday traditions – many of which originated in the 1800s – came to be.

Santa Claus was a concept borrowed from early Dutch settlers in America, who considered St. Nicholas a patron saint. They used to hang stockings in early December to receive presents from him on St. Nicholas Eve. Noted author Washington Irving made reference to him in a history book, mentioning how St. Nicholas would ride over the tops of trees in a wagon when he brought his annual presents to the children.

Further, the Dutch gave us the word “Sinterklaas,” which evolved into “Santa Claus thanks to a New York City printer who published a poem referring to “Santeclaus” in 1821. That poem was the first to mention the St. Nicholas character having a sleigh and being pulled by reindeer.

Of course, it was Clement Moore’s famous poem “The Night Before Christmas” that cemented a lot of our modern-day visions of Christmas. However, before that poem, people would typically wait for St. Nicholas on the night before his holiday in early December. It was Moore’s poem that first described these events happening on what we now call Christmas Eve, the day before Christmas. It was also the first time that Santa’s reindeer were given the names that we know them by today.

Charles Dickens’s work A Christmas Carol helped further cement Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as more prominent holidays, and in the 1860s, illustrator Thomas Nast gave us our first modern depiction of Santa Claus as we visualize him today. That first illustration, drawn at the request of President Lincoln, appeared on the cover of Harper’s Weekly in 1863 and depicted Santa Claus in a red suit and riding on a sleigh. Nast also introduced the notion that Santa lived at the North Pole and had a workshop full of elves.

The idea of Christmas trees came from Germany, but they didn’t become popular in America and Britain until Prince Albert had one installed in Windsor Castle in 1841. And did you know that most people lit their trees with small candles in the 1800s, although an associate of Thomas Edison invented electric Christmas tree lights in the 1880s?

A Christmas tree was first put up in the White House in 1889, during the presidency of Benjamin Harrison. Since then, the tradition has evolved into an essential activity of the sitting presidential family.

6 Things To Do During Your Smoky Mountain Christmas

Christmas may be next week, but it’s not too late to put together an extended stay in the Great Smoky Mountains. Call us today to book one of our cabins in Pigeon Forge, TN, and you’ll be in a great location for turning the Smokies into your holiday getaway destination.

For example, just imagine spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning in one of our cabins, surrounded by family and/or friends. The fireplace in the living room would be the ideal place for everyone to gather to exchange gifts or even to sing your favorite Christmas carols.

But beyond the immediate celebration of the holiday, there’s so much more that you can do in the Smokies this time of year. Here are six suggestions, just to get you started.

1. Christmas at Dollywood – Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge will be celebrating its Smoky Mountain Christmas festival through early January. Enjoy holiday-themed music shows, decorations and foods, in addition to much of the park’s usual assortment of shows, attractions and crafts. The lights alone are worth the admission price.

2. Winterfest lights – Speaking of lights, the communities of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville are all decked out in their winter finest this season. Each city boasts dozens of arrays of colorful LED light displays all over town, and in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, you can even take narrated tours of all the lights on special heated trolleys. All together, the three cities plus Dollywood showcase some 12 million individual lights.

3. Shop! – What better place to squeeze in some last-minute Christmas shopping than the Smokies? With its numerous outlet malls, hundreds of craft shops and studios, specialty stores and antique galleries, there’s no excuse for not finding the perfect gifts for those on your shopping list this year. And in the case of the outlet malls, you can probably save a few bucks in the process.

4. See a show – The many music and variety theaters in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are offering fun holiday-themed versions of their usual shows. You’re sure to hear lots of your favorite Christmas carols, get a visit from Santa and generally enjoy a big dose of holiday cheer. Plus, stepping into the warmth of a theater is a great way to escape the cold.

5. Have fun in the cold – OK, so maybe you like the cold weather. Then consider a trip to Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort, where you can hit the slopes and experience the thrills of downhill speed. Whether your preference is traditional skiing, snowboarding or even snow tubing, there’s a way for you to do what you like best at Ober Gatlinburg. The resort also offers shopping, dining, animal exhibits and an indoor ice skating rink. Even the ride to the mountaintop on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway is a great winter activity in itself.

6. Taste the Smokies – There are tons of restaurants in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and surrounding areas, and many of them will be open on Christmas day. Find one that serves your favorite cuisine and make plans to have a holiday dinner where someone else does all the cooking for a change.

The Bear Facts

It’s the brass ring of any trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park – seeing a black bear, live and in person. Often, you can just be motoring through one of the park’s thoroughfares or maybe hiking along a trail and see a mother bear and her cubs venturing out of woodland’s cover and into areas that are occupied by humans.

Unfortunately, too many visitors to the park put themselves and the native bear population at risk simply by not understanding bear behavior and how to (or how not to) interact with these iconic beasts. So this week, we’re going to pass along the bare essentials when it comes to black bear dos and don’ts. This could come in handy during your visit to the mountains, because our Smoky Mountain cabins are on the doorstep of the national park.

First, understand that black bears are wild animals. They’re not zoo exhibits or trained creatures. They can be very dangerous, even lethal, when threatened, so park visitors are well advised to keep their distance if a bear is spotted in the wild. As a matter of fact, willfully approaching within 50 yards of a bear, or within any distance that disturbs or displaces it, is actually illegal in the national park.

If you see a bear, the first thing to do is simply keep an eye on it and keep your distance. If your presence causes the bear to change its behavior, that means you’re too close. In that case, do not run but slowly back away, still watching the bear. Chances are the bear will be just as happy to put that distance between you.

However, if a bear continues to follow or approach, without making noises or swatting its paw, then change your direction. If the bear is still following you, then stand your ground. I know this seems counterintuitive, but bears run faster than humans, and that’s a race you will lose. Rather, talk loudly, shout at it and try to make yourself look bigger by raising your arms in the air or claiming higher ground. Throw rocks at the bear, anything to maintain an aggressive stance.

Normally, you shouldn’t throw food at a bear, but if you’re in an area where it’s clear that the bear is more interested in your food than you, then slowly back away from the food and let the bear have at it. In general, however, human food and garbage are bad for the bear population. Primarily, feeding bears or allowing them access to human food changes their behavior and causes them to lose their instinctive fear of humans. Over time, this can cause bears to proactively approach people in search of food and to encroach on areas populated by humans. This poses increased danger to the bears in the form of potential traffic mishaps, and it can result in property damage to people when bears invade their property in search of food.

So next time you’re in the national park and spot a bear, keep these tips in mind and make it a pleasant experience for all involved.

 

Cabin Of The Week – Amazing Grace

When you first lay eyes on this luxurious mountain chalet, you’ll think, “How sweet the sight.” It’s an impressive, three-level timber structure situated near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and its proximity to idyllic valley scenes and majestic mountains makes it an ideal place to experience the Smokies.

Although it sleeps six, its configuration makes it ideal for a couples’ getaway. Each bedroom is a private master suite with a king bed and a bathroom, so each couple essentially has a level to itself.

The upper-level bedroom boasts a private balcony with amazing views, as well as a television and a whirlpool tub, which will provide a fortress of relaxation after a long day of hiking or shopping. You’ll find a whirlpool tub in the bedroom on the main level as well.

The main level also has a full kitchen – ideal for storing trip snacks or even whipping together a full sit-down meal. You can enjoy those meals in the dining room, which is surrounded on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glass, allowing you to revel in some outstanding views with your breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Nearby, the living room is great for seeing the sights, whether it’s the scenery outside the two stories of picture windows or your favorite movie or sports event on the TV. There’s also a wood-burning fireplace, which will really fit the bill on those chilly winter nights that will be upon us in the next few weeks.

The downstairs level has its own bedroom, of course, as well as a game room and laundry area with washer and dryer. The game room features an impressive log pool table, corner sitting area and large-screen TV.

And if you think the views are great from inside Amazing Grace, try them from outside the cabin as well. Between the wrap-around decks with covered porches (with rocking chair and porch swing) and the screened porch, the sight seeing is relaxing, whether you’re sipping coffee in the morning, cooking out on the charcoal grill for dinner or soaking in the outdoor hot tub.

Other features include an attached carport for weather-protected loading and unloading, iron and ironing board, and wireless Internet service.

Amazing Grace is located in Wears Valley, which borders the national park. As such, guests have quick and handy access to all the activities the park has to offer, including hiking, fishing and scenic driving. Wears Valley is also a short drive from Townsend, TN, home of the Little River and even more fishing and tubing opportunities (on a seasonal basis).

The chalet is just minutes from Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville, where you’ll find tons of attractions, shops, restaurants and more. And now that we’re well into the annual Winterfest celebration in the Smokies, Amazing Grace guests will also be able to experience all of the light displays and special events that accompany that seasonal festival.

Of course, Amazing Grace is just one of dozens of secluded Pigeon Forge cabins that we have on our rental program. With properties ranging from one to five bedrooms, we’re sure to have the location and the amenities that will be best for your upcoming travel plans.

Winterfest Round-Up

Technically, we’re still in the tail end of autumn, but for all intents and purposes, winter is all but upon us here in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. And with Winterfest celebrations going full steam in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, there’s no shortage of special events taking place in each city. Today, we’ll give you a quick overview of all the fun activities scheduled for this week.

Festival of Trees – This annual event in Gatlinburg features dozens of lighted and decorated Christmas trees as well as gingerbread houses, photos with Santa Claus and a new Candy Cane Lane entryway. This fundraiser for Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries is a great way for all ages to get into the holiday spirit, and it’s all for a good cause. It runs this week, November 25 through 29, at the Mills Conference Center in Gatlinburg. Admission is free to the public.

Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show – This annual event is presented by members of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community in Gatlinburg. Taking place November 25 through 30 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, this show features the hand-crafted creations of the Arts & Crafts Community and includes quilts, straw brooms, woven baskets, hand-dipped candles, ceramic pitchers, pottery, dulcimers, jewelry and much more. The Arts & Crafts Community itself is located in Gatlinburg, along a 3-mile loop made up of U.S. 321, Buckhorn Road and Glades Road.

Nutcracker “Sweet” – Presented by the Great Smoky Dance Theatre, this holiday classic takes place at W.L. Mills Auditorium in Gatlinburg November 28 and 29 at 7 p.m.

Winter Magic Tunes & Tales – We’ll wrap up the Gatlinburg happenings this week with the kickoff of an annual event that runs from November 28 to December 20. Throughout the holiday season, visitors to that city can meet storytellers and carolers on the Parkway on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile in Pigeon Forge this week, you can celebrate Thanksgiving in the Smokies with a bang at the Titanic Museum Attraction. They’ll be hosting their largest fireworks event of the year to honor the lives and legacies of the ship’s passengers, crew and rescuers.

In Sevierville, Winterfest continues this week with Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, a drive-through tour of LED light displays outside Smokies Park, located just off Interstate 40. The show runs through January 4.

For more fun with lights, you can drive through Sevierville and see all of that city’s light displays through special 3D glasses. They’re available for $1 per pair at the Sevierville Visitor Center on Tenn. Hwy. 66.

Regardless of whether you’re planning to visit the Smokies this week, next week or next month, we still have plenty of available cabins in Sevierville TN as well as in Pigeon Forge, TN and Gatlinburg, TN. Check out the selection on our website and book online, or call us today and let us help you find the location and the property that will best suit your travel needs this winter.

Spend Your Holidays In The Smokies

When the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays roll around, it’s natural to think of spending them at home with loved ones, sharing good food, good times and thoughtful gifts with the people who are closest to us.

But, as they say, home is where the heart is, which means if you and your family decide to spend either or both of the upcoming holidays in the Great Smoky Mountains, then it makes sense that your heart would follow, making any place you decide to celebrate a special one.

At Timbercreek Cabins, we can help you and your family find a very special place to spend the holidays. In fact, we’ve got plenty of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabins that are big enough to accommodate large groups. Think of it as a unique way to experience Thanksgiving and Christmas, and with your loved ones sharing them with you, your Smoky Mountain getaway can truly turn out to be a holiday to remember.

We’ve got seven different four- and five-bedroom cabins in our inventory, which can allow you to sleep as many as 16 guests, when you incorporate sleeper sofas. That means you can take the kids, grandparents and even some aunts, uncles and cousins.

All our accommodations must go through a rigorous approval process, so any of our properties that you stay in is going to be top-notch – clean, comfortable, luxurious and packed with amenities. Our cabins offer full kitchens with appliances, dishes and cookware, bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, outdoor hot tubs, game rooms with pool tables, foosball tables and the like, board games, multiple TVs with DVD players and VCRs, free WiFi connections, laundry facilities, decks with chairs, fireplaces and much more.

Because each cabin has a full kitchen, you’d have almost everything you’d need to make your own Thanksgiving or Christmas feast. But if you truly want to be hands-off this season, there are also many restaurants in the area that will be open, at least on Thanksgiving, allowing you to sit down to turkey, dressing, sides, desserts and more. Of course, you’ll have to head back to your cabin to take that big post-meal nap.

You’ll also find a ton of things to do here in the Smokies, even though it’s what used be known around here as the off-season. For example, you’ll find yourself smack in the middle of all the Winterfest activities in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. You can tour these cities on your own and take in the dozens of light displays, featuring millions of lights, or if you’re in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, you can take guided trolley tours that allow you to relax and enjoy all the sites in the heated comfort of a trolley.

Beyond that, each city has multiple Winterfest events taking place throughout the season. Look for arts and craft fairs, seasonal happenings, and at Dollywood, you can enjoy that theme park’s Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration into the first couple of days of 2015.

More Holiday Happenings

The autumn/winter and holiday seasons are some of the busiest times of year here in the Smokies. Winterfest alone accounts for most of what’s going on in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, but even under the Winterfest umbrella are dozens and dozens of individual special events. And then there are lots of other happenings that aren’t necessarily related to Winterfest. Needless to say, you really need a calendar to keep up with all that’s taking place.

So if you’re staying in one of our cabin rentals in Pigeon Forge, TN, you may want to take note of what’s going on this week. You can usually check with each city’s tourism web site to get more details, but here, we can at least give you a rough overview of what to keep an eye out for this week in the Smokies. Last week, we covered a lot of things going on during that seven-day period, including the kickoff of Winterfest activities in the city of Sevierville. This week, we have more holiday fun in store, including what to expect at Pigeon Forge’s and Gatlinburg’s Winterfest kickoffs.

November 11 promises to be a busy day throughout the area. In addition to Winterfest happenings, it’s also Veterans Day. In Gatlinburg, you can join the city in saluting America’s veterans at a tribute ceremony on Ripley’s Aquarium plaza downtown. The proceedings will include patriotic music and words of tribute.

In Pigeon Forge, meanwhile, that city’s 4th Annual Salute To Veterans Parade will begin at 4:30 p.m. and wrap up around 5 p.m. at Patriot Park, all leading up to Pigeon Forge’s Winterfest kickoff that evening.

That kickoff is free and includes the traditional lighting of more than five million sparkling lights in Pigeon Forge’s Winterfest displays. The ceremony will take place at the intersection of River Road and Old Mill Avenue, at the bridge near the Old Mill Restaurant, which is the site of one of the city’s newest and largest Winterfest light displays.

Following the lighting ceremony, you can get in line for the city’s Trolley Tour of Lights, which are offered free on this night only, as part of the kickoff festivities. Normally, they are $5 per person.

Gatlinburg gets its Winterfest celebration started off right on Wednesday the 12th with its annual Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cook-off. Activities take place from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Gatlinburg. It will feature the ceremonial lighting of more than 3 million lights, including animated displays throughout the city and the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Some of the displays are as high as 40 feet tall.

At the chili cook-off, local businesses, service organizations and restaurants will be vying for trophies in an annual competition showcasing mouth-watering homemade chili recipes that range from mild to wild. The kickoff’s street activities are free, but the unlimited chili tastings cost $10 per person. There will also be a hot chili-eating contest and live music by Emi Sunshine and Sonia Leigh, both up-and-coming stars who will be performing at the Bush Brothers’ Stage.

And remember that Gatlinburg’s Trolley Ride of Lights also gets underway at the Winterfest kickoff.