You can almost picture it: the earliest settlers playing folk songs on the front porches of their log cabins with the serenity of the Great Smoky Mountains all around. Music was an important part of the daily life of the Smokies’ settlers, and today it’s still celebrated as an important part of the area’s heritage. That’s why you’ll find community calendars – in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge – jam-packed with annual music festivals, showcases of talented local artists, and live music performances year-round.
A Tribute to the Music of the Mountains
If you’re looking for something beyond live music, visit the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (123 Cromwell Drive | Townsend, TN) for indoor and outdoor exhibits, including musical instruments that were used in the area. Dollywood in Pigeon Forge is home to the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame and Museum, where they work to “preserve, protect and promote Southern Gospel Music, its history and heritage.” Browse the halls of manuscripts, costumes, instruments, records, and more for a real taste of the industry’s best. The Museum of Appalachia (2819 Andersonville Hwy | Clinton,TN) takes you even further back, where you’ll see how the pioneers lived – and what they played! You can also make plans to attend the 38th Annual Tennessee Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia October 6-8, 2017, where Lee Ann Womack is the headlining act and you can enjoy an impressive lineup of acts that celebrate just what the music of the Smokies is all about.
Live Music in the Smokies
From bars in downtown Gatlinburg and dinner shows in Pigeon Forge to bluegrass music on the streets and showcases of local musicians, live music abounds in the Great Smoky Mountains. Whether you’re here as a couple, with a group of friends, or with the kids, here are our top picks for live music – the music that makes the Smokies what it is – in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler| Gatlinburg
In the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, the Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler is a gathering place for locals and tourists alike. The stage is always alive with local music, with plenty of people tapping their toes and relaxing in the rockers gathered around. Bonus: you can stop in at Ole Smoky Moonshine to try unique flavors like Blue Flame, Hunch Punch, Apple Pie, and Outsiders Farrell. If you love live, local music – and the hum of a bustling city – the Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler is the place to be at night in Gatlinburg.
Ole Smoky Barn Stage | Pigeon Forge
If you’re spending your time in Pigeon Forge, head to The Island for live music at the Ole Smoky Barn stage. It’s situated right next to the show fountain, so you can watch the water, sit back in a rocking chair, and listen to the music after tasting out their huge selection of moonshine.
Three Jimmy’s Restaurant | Gatlinburg
Pizza, ribs, barbecue, a full bar…it’s all served up with a side of live music at Three Jimmy’s in Gatlinburg. Thursday and Friday nights bring karaoke, Tuesdays are Bamm! Jam Nights (open to any musicians who just want to jam), and Wednesday nights are open-mic nights with Mark Meyer.
Smoky Mountain Brewery | Pigeon Forge
Cold beer, hot wings, and live music are the perfect mix for a laid-back night on the town in Pigeon Forge. Their Pigeon Forge location offers NFL game coverage, live team trivia, karaoke, and live music throughout the week. Stop in to hear Stephen Goff, Aaron Tracy, Matt Roy, and other talented artists who give you a taste of Smoky Mountain sounds.
Dixie Stampede | Pigeon Forge
In Dolly Parton’s famed Pigeon Forge dinner show, the North and South duke it out as the show dazzles with show horses, horse riding stunts, special effects, musical productions, and glittering costumes. Bluegrass, country, and patriotic music will fill the air as you chow down on a hearty feast of chicken, pork loin, vegetable soup, corn on the cob, homemade biscuits, and dessert. And be sure to get there early enough for the Saloon Opening Act by Mountain Ruckus!
Country Tonite | Pigeon Forge
Kids will love this show, too, where youth performers dazzle on stage alongside other talented singers and dancers. And besides the nightly shows, the Celebrity Concert Series brings in big-name acts throughout the year, including 2017’s lineup of Tanya Tucker, Gene Watson & Jeannie Seely, T.G. Sheppard & Ronnie McDowell, Neal McCoy, Tracy Lawrence, The Oak Ridge Boys, Jimmy Fortune, Mickey Gilley & Johnny Lee, and The Bellamy Brothers.
Celebrating the Music of the Smokies – and Beyond
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg also play host to live music events throughout the year, so check ahead of time before you plan your Pigeon Forge vacation! Here’s just a sample of their annual favorites:
Dollywood’s Festival of Nations | spring | music from around the world
Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival | July 4 | patriotic music, fireworks, kids’ activities, and more
Dollywood National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration | fall | Southern gospel music & art from around the country
Christmas at Dixie Stampede | winter | all your favorite holiday music & more
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales | summer & winter | mountain music & costumed storytellers