Ask locals and longtime visitors when the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains is, and most will probably answer with autumn.
The sultry summer heat fades into an inviting fall chill. The greenery on the trees transforms into the vivid colors of the season. Everyone starts to wear a jacket and warmer clothes when they go out, and it’s probably because they’re heading to some of the most enjoyable celebrations in the area.
When you visit the Smokies in the fall, you can be assured you’ll always have something to celebrate, whether it’s a harvest festival, a food tasting or a parade. We’ve included a sample of the area’s best festivals and events, both in Tennessee and North Carolina:
7 of the Best Smoky Mountain Fall Events
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
As one of the Smoky Mountains’ center of arts and crafts, Gatlinburg is a natural place to host this twice a year event. The two-week-plus fall schedule follows the one held over the summer, with nearly 200 independent artisans from all over the country creating, displaying and selling their exquisite works. You’ll find original paintings, photography, ceramics and much more, as well as live bluegrass and country music concerts every day.
Oktoberfest at Ober
Fall isn’t complete without attending at least one Oktoberfest celebration. This festival takes place at Ober Gatlinburg, the local ski and summer activity resort. But for a week in September and a few more in October, it becomes a Bavarian party place. Enjoy old country foods like schnitzel, bratwursts, strudel and more, live polka music and dancing, games and naturally giant steins of beer from different breweries around the Smokies.
Fall Harvest at the Island
Pigeon Forge’s premier entertainment center provides plenty of fun the rest of the year, but for a few weeks in autumn, it dresses up in a harvest theme. You’ll enjoy taking pictures, sampling seasonal foods and listening to live music from the Old Smoky Moonshine stage. Toward the end of October, the annual Halloween event takes place and provides even more entertainment for visitors.
Smoky Mountain Harvest Fest
In neighboring Sevierville, the townsfolk host their own harvest festival, which runs through the entire month of October. It’s a true small town celebration and “is sealed tighter than a jelly jar” with fall decorations, events and arts and crafts displays. Check out the website calendar for an updated schedule, and explore the town made famous by country superstar Dolly Parton.
Grains & Grits Festival
Do you love Southern cooking and maybe a little drink to wash it all down? Then you won’t want to miss this gathering in Townsend. Sample some of the best gourmet creations and craft spirit makers in the Smokies during this one-day event. The schedule features educational seminars on distilling, live entertainment and tastings from both local restaurants and dozens of small distilleries who produce gin, whiskey, vodka and of course moonshine.
Asheville is a popular destination with Smoky Mountain visitors, so there’s no shortage of fall-related events. But if you’re a music lover who’s looking for something different, head to the LEAF festival just outside of town near Black Mountain. The three-day festival offers music, dance, art and cultural displays from Africa, Latin America, Americana and Appalachia and has become one of the premier fall happenings in western North Carolina.
Annual Chili Cookoff & Car Show
This long-standing Bryson City event definitely won’t leave you hungry. You’ll get to try fantastic competition chili recipes that range from mild to extra-spicy, with beans and without, meaty to meatless. Live music, artisan booths and other foods will also be on the schedule, as well as a display of cool vintage automobiles.
Fall is also a great time to stay for a weekend here, and you won’t find many better places for a romantic getaway than Christopher Place, your Smoky Mountains bed and breakfast resort. It’s also the perfect setting to wind down after a full day of festival enjoyment. Get in touch with us today and create a wonderful autumn memory.