Fall is a festive time of year in the Smoky Mountains, and there are many communities, local groups, and organizations that want to celebrate the harvest season in style. Both locals and travelers love that it’s the season of Smoky Mountain fall festivals and events.
Just ask locals and longtime visitors when the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains is, and most will probably answer with autumn. As the weather begins to get colder, the trees begin to change colors, and autumn is coming soon. With so many great fall festivals in the Smoky Mountains, fall is a great time to visit of the most beautiful places in the United States.
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.
With fairs and carnivals for nearly every age group and interest, here are some of our favorite fall Smoky Mountain festivals, stretching into both Tennessee and North Carolina…
Fun-Filled Smoky Mountain Festivals in September
Fall doesn’t truly begin in the Smokies until about the middle of September, but the locals are sure to usher in the harvest decor and fall flavors as quickly as possible. These are the fall festivals that you can enjoy in the Smoky Mountains in September.
Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival | Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge, TN
Mid-September to Late November
Rather than containing the excitement of fall to just one or two weeks in October, the city of Gatlinburg has created an epic festival that lasts for the entire 12 weeks of fall. It was expanded in 2021, and the community has continued its commitment to an enduring festival that showcases the best that the Smokies have to offer during the season.
The Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival is an experience designed to bring visitors to the Smokies during this breathtakingly beautiful time of year. The hallmarks of the festival are the larger-than-life displays of scarecrow people and the incredible fall decorations that line the city’s downtown area.
It’s impossible to visit Gatlinburg during the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival and not be swept up by the glory of fall. To celebrate the Harvest Festival in style, most local businesses and attractions partner with the city to increase their offerings and create special fall experiences. This allows both local residents and visitors to enjoy a truly authentic and unique version of the Smokies during the fall.
Dollywood Harvest Festival | Pigeon Forge, TN
Mid-September through October
Dollywood is considered one of the best theme parks in the Smoky Mountains, attracting fun-loving visitors of all ages and delighting local residents who love having this special place in their own backyard.
In the fall, the Dollywood Harvest Festival brings the beauty of autumn in the Smoky Mountains to this exciting theme park destination. It all begins in late September and extends throughout October.
This festival was recently voted the top fall family attraction in the country, and when you discover what it’s all about, that title isn’t surprising.
During the festival, fall treats begin to arrive at all of the vending areas of the park, filling the streets with the smells of cinnamon, apples, and pumpkins. In the evening, lighted carved pumpkins line the paths, making a stroll through the park more magical than ever.
Of course, the towering glowing pumpkin sculptures are not to be missed. These illuminated sculptures can be found throughout the park, creating a scavenger hunt of sorts for those who want to see and photograph them all.
Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg | Gatlinburg, TN
Mid-September through October
While there’s plenty of Southern hospitality to enjoy in the Smokies during the fall, there’s only one place to go to experience an authentic German Oktoberfest — Ober Gatlinburg, the local ski and summer activity resort.
Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg is an extended fall festival in the city that begins with the onset of fall in September and extends until the end of October. Taking place at a popular Gatlinburg attraction, Oktoberfest attracts both locals and tourists. Some of the highlights include:
- An outdoor beer garden for sipping frothy beverages in large steins
- Live performances from the Smoky Mountain Oompah Band, who dresses in authentic lederhosen while playing Bavarian-inspired music
- Daily shows designed to delight and entertain
- German-inspired menus throughout the park, including options such as bratwurst, strudel, schnitzel, and sauerkraut
Fall at the Island in Pigeon Forge | Pigeon Forge, TN
Mid-September through October
With its 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel, it’s impossible to visit the Smoky Mountains and miss The Island at Pigeon Forge. As the region’s newest shopping and entertainment attraction, it’s a popular spot for locals and travelers to visit.
Similar to Ober Gatlinburg and Dollywood, The Island at Pigeon Forge has created an extended, season-long festival designed for anyone who wants to soak up the fall in style. Fall at the Island in Pigeon Forge consists of a variety of special experiences and attractions.
The Island is decorated in festive harvest decor, including sweeping displays of fall leaves and ornately carved pumpkins, and there are fall flavors to enjoy. From moonshine to fall baked goods, there’s something for everyone to sample and savor at the island.
Beyond that, there are costume contests and other unique events that take place at the Island in Pigeon Forge throughout the entire fall season. Toward the end of October, the annual Halloween event takes place and provides even more entertainment.
Autumn at Anakeesta‘s Hallow Mountain | Gatlinburg, TN
Mid-September through October
When autumn arrives in the Smokies, there’s no better place to experience it than at Gatlinburg’s awesome, award-winning theme park, Anakeesta. And, Hallow Mountain is teeming with autumn festivities from the middle of September through the end of October.
Visitors can indulge in seasonal foods and drinks — pumpkin spice lattes at Pearl’s Pie in the Sky and fall-themed dishes at Cliff Top — while listening to live music — from bluegrass to holiday classics and country hits — and enjoying the breathtaking Smoky Mountain views.
While you’re here, don’t pass up the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Vista Gardens’ plant life. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a thrill ride on the Rail Runner Mountain Coaster or zip through the forest.
The fun lasts for more than a month and there’s nothing stopping you from visiting more than once.
Rod Runs | Pigeon Forge, TN
As any local will tell you, car shows are a big deal in Smoky Mountains, so if you’re a car enthusiast, this Smoky Mountain tradition is right up your alley.
Join hundreds of car enthusiasts at the area’s largest automotive event. You can get a single-day pass or buy a three-day pass to come back again.
You’ll see classic cars, custom-built cars, and all things in between. With the revving of engines filling your ears and your eyes peeled for awesome-looking cars, you’re sure to have a good time.
Bluegrass Festival | Pigeon Forge, TN
Perk up your ears and put on your dancing shoes for this one-day event at the LaConte Center in Pigeon Forge.
If you love bluegrass music, swing by to hear and see no less than a half dozen acts, including the Grascals, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, and the Po’ Ramblin Boys.
You’ll be singing along and tapping your foot as you listen to some of the nation’s top bluegrass acts.
Smoky Mountain Festivals in October
October is the peak of the fall festival season, with so many festivals to choose from. Visitors of all ages and interests will find a celebration that suits their style in October.
Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers Festival | Sevierville, TN
Bringing together woodcarvers from across the Smoky Mountain Tennessee region, the Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers Festival is a show and competition of surprising creativity and skill. Prizes and ribbons are awarded to winners across novice, intermediate, and open classes.
Visitors experience a wide variety of carvings, such as animal and human figures, wood-burning, relief carving, bark houses, Santas, and more. A wide range of carving supplies and tools are available for purchase as well.
For a few days before the competition, training classes are available.
Bruce Street Brewfest | Sevierville, TN
Bruce Street Brewfest is a craft beer festival in downtown Sevierville that offers lots of beer tasting from more than 40 up-and-coming brewers. Additionally, there’s plenty of great food and entertainment, including live music and two friendly competitions.
The Judged Competition is a sanctioned contest that’s open to homebrewers from all over the United States. Individuals, teams, and clubs are welcome to join. The craft brews are assessed by a panel of professional judges.
The People’s Choice Competition is also open to homebrewers from across the country, including teams and clubs. The difference is that the brews are judged by the attendees.
Proceeds from ticket and food sales will go to local charities.
Chalkfest at the Island | Pigeon Forge, TN
Held at the Island in Pigeon Forge, this one-day event is perfect for those who have an artistic side. Plenty of chalk and concrete are provided so everyone can take their turn at creating a masterpiece.
Every year has a different theme, allowing chalker artists to be as extravagant or as simple as they want to be. There’s no wrong way to draw here and it’s a blast for visitors of all ages.
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair & Fall Festival | Gatlinburg, TN
Mid to Late October
The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is an exciting event that only comes to the city two times each year — once in the summer and once again in the fall. As one of the Smoky Mountains’ centers of arts and crafts, Gatlinburg is a natural place to host this event.
At the Gatlinburg Convention Center, the festival lasts for more than two weeks in October. Featuring more than 200 vendors that include craftspeople, artists, artisans, and more, it has quickly become one of the best festivals in the community and one that local residents frequent year after year.
It’s so large that organizers recommend planning to spend an entire day going from booth to booth and checking out the various offerings. It’s one of the best places to begin holiday shopping for those on your list who would love a handmade creation as a gift.
You’ll find original paintings, photography, ceramics, and much more.
In addition to the vendors who may be selling pottery, leather goods, candy, and more, there’s a kid’s corner with DIY crafts and live bluegrass and country music performances. Visitors can expect a lively, welcoming atmosphere at this festival, and they’ll quickly see why everyone comes back again and again.
Wears Valley Fall Fest | Sevierville, TN
For those looking for a traditional community festival in the Smoky Mountains, the Wears Valley Fall Fest is the best option. While most of the other fall festivals in the Smoky Mountains are extended experiences, this is a weekend-long celebration that’s perfect for locals and families. Highlights of this celebration include:
- A car show
- An arts and crafts show
- Live demonstrations
- Music and entertainment
- Children’s activities
With more than 200 vendors attending this event, it’s sure to be an amazing weekend for anyone who attends. By attending the festival, you’re not only supporting the artists and vendors who have worked so hard on their products but also the Sevierville community. This festival is sponsored by Keep Sevier Beautiful, and the proceeds are invested back into the community.
LEAF Festival | Black Mountain, NC
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.
This three-day festival offers music, dance, art, and cultural displays from Africa, Latin America, Americana, and Appalachia. It has become one of the premier fall happenings in Western North Carolina.
Spooktacular | Pigeon Forge, TN
This is an annual, fun, and non-scary event in the Smoky Mountains for families of young trick-or-treaters.
Come to the Pigeon Forge Community Center just before Halloween. Vendors from local businesses have plenty of candy for kiddos to collect.
There are also lots of fun and interactive displays to get into the Halloween spirit. There’s also live entertainment and a haunted house. The event is free so dress in your best costume and prepare to have fun.
November Festivals in the Smokies
Fall starts to wind down in November, just as the leaves begin to peak and float to the ground. However, the season wouldn’t be complete without one last fall festival in the Smoky Mountains.
Grains & Grits | Townsend, TN
The fall festival season wraps up in the Smoky Mountains with the Grains & Grits Festival in Townsend. Described as a festival that honors “Southern spirits and gourmet grub,” this event pays homage to the craft beverage industry that flourishes in the community and the time-honored tradition of Southern cooking.
Festival attendees will be able to sip craft drinks, including beer and liquor from various Tennessee brewers and distributors. In addition, everyone will have an opportunity to enjoy the flavor of the South at the Ring of Fire — the infamous barbecue pit in which a whole pig, chicken, sausages, and lamb are roasted.
With live music creating a vibrant atmosphere, this is quickly becoming a favorite event for adults who are looking to squeeze the last drops out of fall. The schedule features educational seminars on distilling too.
It’s important to note that the Grains & Grits Festival is an adult event reserved for guests over the age of 21.
Chili Cookoff | Gatlinburg, TN
If you’re looking to warm up on a chilly fall day, this is one Smoky Mountain festival that will warm you up. This one-day downtown Gatlinburg event definitely won’t leave you hungry. Plus it’s free, so what’s better than that?
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.
Holiday Handcrafters Festival | Townsend, TN
This one-day event is the perfect blend of holiday spirit, harvest celebration, and the comforts of home.
Come enjoy the good vibes at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center with live music, kids’ crafts, basket weaving demos, guest speakers, and so much more.
Kids will delight in making homemade old-fashioned Christmas ornaments to hang on their trees and visit Santa Claus too.
If you’re looking for the perfect family festival to get everyone into the holiday spirit, this is one to mark on your calendar.
More Fall Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains
By the time the leaves begin to change in the middle of October, fall is already in full swing in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and throughout the Smokies. With so many festivals to experience throughout the fall, it’s not surprising that there’s an influx of visitors during this season of warm days and crisp evenings.
Whether you’re looking for unique, one-of-a-kind gifts, craving delicious Southern food, or looking to hear some great live music, there’s a great mix of fall festivals to attend in the Smokies. Between attending a festival (or two or three) and marveling at the breathtaking fall colors, you’ll want to come back again and again.
So what are you waiting for? Plan your fall trip to the Smokies today. Come prepared to have fun and to experience fall in a place like no other. You’ll have a blast and you may just decide to turn a visit to the Smokies into an annual fall trip. And, don’t forget to check out all of the other amazing fall things to do in the Smoky Mountains.