Celebrate Our Independence in the Great Smoky Mountains

Travel & LeisureVacation Plans

  • Author Jim Watson
  • Published August 18, 2010
  • Word count 547

By Jim Watson

In the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains lies an area known for fantastic skiing, gorgeous vistas, bright springtime festivals, and vibrant fall colors. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee offer more than just scenic views and mountain hiking, though. For the holiday traveler looking for a bit of summertime fun, there's a lot to see and do in these enchanting villages.

Party Like it's 1776

Honor our country's independence at Pigeon Forge's 20th Annual Patriot Festival. The party takes place at Patriot Park on July 4, and admission is free. Past events have featured live entertainment, games, and fun for the entire family. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and make a day of it, because sunset brings a spectacular fireworks show sponsored by the city of Pigeon Forge.

Dollywood, the area's premier amusement park, presents Kidsfest from mid-June through mid-August. Every week a new headliner takes the stage to entertain children and adults alike. With shows like Journey to the Center of the Earth 4D and The Gazillion Bubble Show, you can't help but have fun. And don't forget to bring your suit. You won't want to miss Splash Country, where you and the kids can race down Slick Rock Racer at heart-thumping speeds.

Whitewater Rafting, Gatlinburg Style

For kids of any age, downtown Gatlinburg hosts the River Raft Regatta. Floating vessels of all shapes and sizes participate in this annual event. Enter your matchstick boat, rubber duck, or ship in a bottle for a chance at fame and bragging rights, not to mention loads of laughs. Bring your boat and prepare to cheer for the winners and losers alike from the banks of the Little Pigeon River.

Feeling up for some real whitewater rafting? Head up to The Big Pigeon River for a day of rafting adventure. You'll twist and turn through rapids with names like Razor Blade and the Lost Guide before being deposited safely back on land. The ride is a blast, but the scenery is magnificent. That is, if you can keep your eyes open long enough to see it.

Fantastic Fireworks to Light Up the Night

The Fourth of July just wouldn't be the same without a sky-brightening fireworks spectacular to commemorate the birth of this great nation. From Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge, the night comes alive with a breathtaking display of pyrotechnic prowess.

Long before the fireworks, though, is a sight you're unlikely to see anywhere else: a midnight parade. For 35 years Gatlinburg has proudly hosted the first Independence Day Parade of the year. Kicking off just as the calendar turns from the 3rd to the 4th, this one-of-a-kind event should not be missed. The parade draws more than 100,000 spectators to see the mile-long procession. Elaborate floats, parade balloons, and marching bands all come together to celebrate. The festivities actually begin the day before, with live entertainment adding to the carnival-like atmosphere up and down the parade route.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are fantastic vacation destinations any time of the year, but holiday excitement brings out the best these charming towns have to offer. From free parades and festivals to kid-friendly entertainment at Dollywood, each member of your family will be delighted with the prospect of spending his or her summer vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Jim Watson is Owner of Timbercreek Cabins offering lodging near Pigeon Forge. Cabin rentals are now available. Visit [http://www.timbercreekcabins.com](http://www.timbercreekcabins.com) today for a complete listing. © 2010, All Rights Reserved

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