Cookouts, fireworks, and outdoor escapades characterize our country’s birthday, but the Smoky Mountains, like her tall peaks and expansive, uninterrupted skylines, do it bigger and better than most! A mountain cabin cookout is the best way to spend this momentous afternoon in between boisterous parades, dazzling music shows, lively festivals, and outrageously fun outdoor excursions. Here are the top 4 ways to spend the 4th this year:
Attend the country’s first Fourth of July Parade at the stroke of midnight!
When the clock strikes twelve on the eve of July 4th, the nation’s first celebratory parade begins its route down the Parkway in Gatlinburg, the 43rd Annual Independence Day Parade! Arrive early and park in any of the free public parking lots, because the good spots by the street start filling up quickly. Plus, there are plenty of fun things to do downtown before setting up your fold-out lawn chairs on the sidewalks!
Every evening in the summer starting at 6 p.m., the Gatlinburg summer event Tunes and Tales brings the city to life with music and storytellers characteristic of the mountain people and culture preserved through twangin’ banjos, animated 18th century re-enactors, and street performances.
After experiencing some of the rich culture of the Smoky Mountains through stories and music, find a good spot along the parade’s route to settle in for a while. There are plenty of small shops with delicious sweets, savory snacks, and cold beverages to enjoy while you wait! A little odd, admittedly, but people bring their coin bags to throw change out onto the street to keep kids entertained until the parade starts at midnight. (It’s a great way to supply your little ones with arcade money!)
The Independence Day Parade is filled with dazzling red, white, and blue lights, floats dedicated to the 5 branches of servicemen: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and the Navy, and impressive marching bands! Floats from local attractions come to represent as the crew from Titanic Museum dance, Southern belles from the local dinner shows sing and twirl, and aquatic friends from Rilpley’s Aquarium of the Smokies wave to the kids. Beautiful tributes to the Cherokee Nation carry the Tribal Royalty who greet parade goers as they glide by.
The Independence Day Parade begins at stoplight #1A, turns onto the Parkway at light #3, and travels the length of the downtown Gatlinburg to light #10, lasting about an hour and a half. 100,000 people are expected to attend, so be sure to stake out your spot!
Attend festivals and fun activities throughout Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg!
A truly unique pastime in Gatlinburg is the River Raft Regatta. Register your unmanned river flotation contraption for free at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Christ in the Smokies. Your boats can be made of decorated plastic bottles, rubber ducks, and other random objects from your home; it’s more fun when you get creative! Once you have registered, play festival games and more during the party on the lawn before the race. Boats set off at noon down the Little Pigeon River from the Christ in the Smokies Bridge and ends at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. There are prizes for winning boats from multiple categories. It’s a memorable way to celebrate the 4th of July the kids will laugh and talk about for years!
Beginning at noon, the 28th Annual Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival begins in, none other than, Patriot Park in the Old Mill District of Pigeon Forge! Tons of tasty festival foods in wide varieties are offered in food trucks and under tents in between games, music stages, and local art vendors. Play ring toss, get your face painted, listen to FREE live music, and so much more! This festival lasts all day long, so pay a visit with a ride on the Pigeon Forge Trolley!
Host the best July Fourth cook-out to date in a Pigeon Forge Cabin!
Large group cabins are more affordable when you split the cost between more guests. Take advantage of all the amenities, extra space, and beautiful atmosphere of your Pigeon Forge cabin and host a Fourth of July party with multiple families and friends! Plus, the more the merrier, right?
Many of our large group lodges have incredibly fun extras like indoor pools, theater rooms, and spacious kitchens to prepare the biggest cookout meal the kids have ever seen! The kitchens are fully loaded with all the cooking tools, appliances, and serving utensils and plates you need, which means fewer trips to the grocery store. With all the extra space, you can invite all your friends and family members without worrying about sleeping and eating accommodations!
Grill out on the cabin’s grill while sipping on cold beers and enjoying gorgeous views of the Smoky Mountains. The kids will love splashing in the cabin pool and playing games in the rec room, allowing plenty of time for the adults to catch up and have some fun, too.
End the day on a high note with the incredible Gatlinburg fireworks display!
Close this year’s amazing Fourth of July with an equally matched fireworks show in downtown Gatlinburg. At 10 p.m., the fireworks are set off from the downtown area, making them visible from numerous viewpoints in the surrounding Parkway area! Rated as one of the Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society, it’s a truly momentous way to end your family’s best Fourth of July in the Smoky Mountains.