Fireworks & Fun on the 4th of July


4th of July in the Great Smoky Mountains

Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are always family favorites. The two fun and inviting mountain towns are always hosting fun events throughout the year – especially during holidays! From parades and festivals to craft shows and races, they have something for everyone. The 4th of July is no different in the Smokies, bringing fun, fireworks, food, and more. So if you’re wanting to get out of the cabin for some 4th of July fun, here’s what’s in store.

First 4th of July Parade in the Nation
Held along the streets of downtown Gatlinburg, the first Independence Day Parade in the Nation kicks off at midnight on July 3. This annual midnight parade is the perfect way to celebrate our nation’s independence and the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom! Catch a nap in the cabin that afternoon, and then get ready to stay up for a fun night of floats, marching bands, and of course, fireworks! 

The fireworks show usually starts at about 10 p.m. and lasts for about 20 minutes. Find the perfect spot between traffic lights #3 and #5 on the Parkway for a great view. Once the fireworks are over, enjoy the parade that’s been named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society. When you think of going out at midnight, you typically think of an adults-only night out. But the 4th of July Parade is a family-friendly event that the kids will love staying up for! 

Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta
After sleeping in a bit to recover from your late night at the parade, make your way downtown with your float (or just to watch) for the fun Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta at the Christ in the Smokies bridge on River Road. The race is open to all, and it’s a great way to get the kids’ creative juices flowing. 

You can compete in 2 categories:  Trash (not handmade) and Treasure (handmade), with awards for the top 3 in each category. They’ll also have a Judges’ Choice category for the most creative river raft! 

This unique event is always fun for participants and spectators, and it’s a great way to just get out of the cabin for a bit and enjoy the summer sun. And because its’ held in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, you’ll be walking distance to tons of other fun attractions, restaurants, and shops. You can easily grab a bite to eat downtown, or you can save some room for the delicious foods awaiting you at the Patriot Festival in Pigeon Forge.

Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival
Held at the beautiful Patriot Park that sits along the new Pigeon Forge Greenway (alongside the Little Pigeon River), the Annual Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival is always a local favorite. Celebrating our nation’s heroes, the festival offers even more fun for the family. 

After claiming your prize at the Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta, head over to Patriot Park for a day full of entertainment and food at the annual Patriot Festival. Starting at 12 p.m., the festival will feature local food vendors, country music and patriotic tunes, and the FREE Kids’ Carnival. Live entertainment usually starts around 1:30 p.m., with a veterans tribute and performances by local groups, headliners (new each year), and more.  

While you enjoy music and the great Smoky Mountain scenery around you, give to a great cause (with many things benefiting local charities) by chowing down on BBQ, cooling off with ice cream, and more. And be sure to stick around until dark – the Fireworks Extravaganza usually kicks off at 9:45 p.m. It’s a July fireworks finale you don’t want to miss! 

The Logistics
Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival
July 4

  • FREE parking at the LeConte Center Municipal Parking Lot on Teaster Lane
  • Shuttle service from the parking area to Patriot Park
  • No umbrellas
  • Blankets and lawn chairs welcome

More 4th of July Ideas
Between the First Independence Day Parade in the Nation, the River Raft Regatta, and the Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival, your day in Tennessee is sure to be full. But if you’re looking for even more things to do this 4th of July, we have a few ideas.

  • Make some great July 4th crafts in the cabin.
  • Whip up some tasty and festive treats in your fully equipped kitchen. 
  • Spend the day shopping for some great holiday deals.
  • Take a scenic drive through Cades Cove and enjoy a picnic with your favorites! 
  • Spend the day at Dollywood theme park, watching shows with live music, riding roller coasters, and enjoying the evening fireworks display! 
  • Enjoy a delicious Southern meal at The Old Mill. 
  • Pack a picnic with your cooler and head to a local park to enjoy a laid-back Fourth of July celebration with the family. 
  • Take a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and find yourself on a mountaintop on Independence Day. 
  • Take advantage of some great weekend deals at the Tanger Outlets in Sevierville.