Summertime in the Smokies: Gatlinburg Celebrates the Season With Can’t-Be-Missed Events

The season of summer fun has arrived in Gatlinburg, and it comes with no shortage of can’t-be-missed activities for the whole family. All season long, visitors can take their pick of ways to play – from live entertainment, outdoor adventure, to award-winning festivals, Gatlinburg has something for every traveler.

Gatlinburg’s award-winning Fourth of July Midnight Parade steps off at the stroke of midnight with an all new lineup of entertainment, performers and stunning floats. Famed as the nation’s first Independence Day parade, the Fourth of July Midnight Parade has garnered much national attention for its early celebration of America’s freedom and is a patriotic spectacle that can’t be missed. During the day on July 3, visitors can enjoy performances from the 100th Army Band. Festivities continue through July 4 with the River Raft Regatta and a firework show starting at 10 p.m.

Participants in the River Raft Regatta race can register their floatables at the Christ in the Smokies bridge beginning at 10 a.m. From there, racers will set sail at noon and conclude the competition after all floatables have crossed the finish line at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. This year eventgoers can now opt to enter a rented rubber duck into the competition (or bring your own at no cost) for the bargain price of $1. All proceeds go to the Gatlinburg Chamber Foundation and is a great way for everyone to participate in the fun.

Back for another consecutive season, Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales is a one-of-a-kind summer experience. Visitors can stroll Gatlinburg’s famous Parkway sidewalks and easily catch one of Tunes & Tales’ many costumed performers sharing the music and tales that have existed in the Smoky Mountains as far back as the 1800s. Tunes & Tales runs from June 22 to August 11 every night beginning at 6 p.m.

Arts and crafts lovers can explore 180 plus booths filled with items made by many of America’s most talented crafters at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, held July 13 to July 22 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Artists and craftsmen will be on-hand to demonstrate their skills, answer questions and sell their works of art at this juried exhibition.

The excitement continues with Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival, a free and fun event with a smashing musical lineup of artists playing at various live venues throughout Downtown Gatlinburg. A weeklong celebration of our Appalachian musical roots, Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival is from August 13 to August 22 and includes songwriting competitions and workshops for aspiring artists of all genres.

Best of all, exploring Gatlinburg in the summer has never been easier with the help of the free Parkway trolley service, happening exclusively from June 16 to August 15. The open-air trolleys will operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. All shuttles are handicapped accessible and stops extend from Traffic Light #1 to Traffic Light #10 along the Parkway route. More information about Gatlinburg’s Mass Transit System can be discovered by visiting

Keep up with what’s going on in Gatlinburg this summer by following Visit Gatlinburg on Facebook or find updated details at