Twenty special guests will help Pigeon Forge kick off the 20th celebration of Pigeon Forge Winterfest. Collectively, they are the Duggar family from TLC’s “18 Kids and Counting” reality show.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 18 natural-born children—plus one on the way—will flip the switch to illuminate millions of lights and start the four-month winter event that runs through Feb. 28, 2010.
The grand illumination will conclude an opening event at the city’s Patriot Park on Nov. 5 (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m.
Pigeon Forge Winterfest, which transformed winter from a quiet season to one of the city’s busiest, is a Top 100 Event in North America, according to the American Bus Association.
Expansive and elaborate Winterfest light displays are located throughout the city. More than five million lights are used, and several displays—including the celebration’s signature snowflakes along the Parkway—have been fitted with energy-saving LED bulbs.
Dollywood enhances the first two months of Pigeon Forge Winterfest with Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, a two-time winner of the Golden Ticket Award for the nation’s best theme park Christmas event. Dates are Nov. 7-Jan. 2, 2010.
Dollywood adds to Winterfest’s light displays with more than four million lights of its own and the nightly Lighted Christmas Parade. Its musical entertainment lineup includes “Dollywood’s Babes in Toyland,” “Christmas in the Smokies” and “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” plus the Polar Express 4-D Experience, a multi-sensory cinematic experience based on the beloved Caldecott Medal-winning children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg.
Pigeon Forge has more than a dozen theaters, and most of them offer special Christmas show segments during November and December. While some do take a post-New Year’s break, several offer their signature shows in January and February.
After the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s, the city continues Pigeon Forge Winterfest with two festivals in January and February:
Wilderness Wildlife Week, Jan. 9-16, is the first. It began the same year as Winterfest as a Saturday afternoon activity and now offers eight days of programs and activities to spotlight Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Almost 150 experts on nature and outdoor life present programs on many topics, and there are daily hikes and excursions into the national park.
Saddle Up!, a celebration of the American West, returns for its tenth year, Feb. 25-28. It brings some of the best western musicians and cowboy poets to the Smokies for a rare visit east of the Mississippi River. Events include concerts, a chuckwagon cookoff and Cowboy Church.
Pigeon Forge’s popular Trolley Tour of Lights, offered throughout Winterfest, provides a narrated tour of this Smoky Mountains resort town and a chance to see the major displays. One of the more elaborate displays depicts the city’s most significant historic site, the Old Mill. The actual mill was built in 1830 and still is in operation. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.