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A Gatlinburg Christmas marries sublime winter views with sparkling lights, down-home celebrations and gifts to delight the eyes and the taste buds too. Here are five highlights of a merry mountain Christmas:

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1. Millions of Holiday Lights

More than 5 million lights glitter across Gatlinburg, banishing darkness with sparkle. Explore the Winter Magic festival at your own pace again and again, because the lights shine from mid-November through mid-February. Don’t want to drive? Catch a trolley to ride past these displays created just for Gatlinburg. Want to linger? Stroll under archways of light, past glimmering Christmas trees.

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2. Gatlinburg Christmas Parade

The Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade rolls through Gatlinburg on Dec. 4, 2020. This is a classic old-fashioned parade: Sharply dressed marching bands fill the crisp evening with holiday tunes. Floats whisk Santa’s helpers along, while giant gingerbread men dance. Proud drivers show off how far they’ll go to deck their rides in twinkling lights. You’ll feel like a local at this hometown celebration. 

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3. Shopping for the Perfect Gift

Traditional arts and crafts draw inspiration from the Smokies’ color and serenity. Visit the Arts and Crafts Community, where more than 100 artisans work in pottery, ceramics, wood, silver, fabric, paint, basketry, glass and much more. Take a trolley from downtown to the Arts and Crafts Community workshops, or explore galleries, craft shops, and Christmas specialty shops all over the region.

Gatlinburg’s seven malls give you choices from large, national stores to locally owned boutiques. If all that shopping leaves you famished, local food shops offer goodies to munch back at your cabin—handmade candies, jellies, jerky, and baked treats.

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4. Skiing at Ober Gatlinburg

Imagine flying downhill faster than Santa’s sleigh but with no reindeer required. At Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park, you can go skiing, tubing, snowboarding and more throughout the holidays, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Rent everything you need. Youngsters can play in the Cubbies Snow Zone or enjoy kids’ rides. The family can compete on ice bumper cars or see how animals spend winter at the Wildlife Encounter.

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5. Cozy Up in a Warm Cabin

Coming home to a private cabin is the perfect way to end a winter day. Spend Christmas Eve stargazing through clear air while you sip a warm drink. Wake up on Christmas to a mountain vista right outside your windows.

To find the best winter cabins—including cabins decorated for the holidays—talk to Colonial Properties Cabin & Resort Rentals.