In most Smoky Mountain towns winter seems to always go out like lion, so when spring comes along it’s no wonder that Gatlinburg welcomes in the new season with a slew of events aimed at getting people outside and aptly named Springfest.
Beginning in mid-March and continuing through the first week of June, Gatlinburg’s Smoky Mountain Springfest celebration transforms town from a wintery wonderland into a blooming, colorful display of Smoky Mountain wildflowers. The streets are practically overflowing with baskets of flowers and plants in bloom. The aroma of pansies, daffodils, tulips, mandevillas, lantanas, and wave petunias are just a few of the many varieties of wildflowers that bloom in the area and can be seen throughout Gatlinburg during Springfest.
In actuality, Springfest really kicks off with Ober Gatlinburg’s Easter Sunrise Service. Celebrate the season against the beautiful backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ober provides free tram rides up the mountain beginning at 6 a.m. and continues every 15 minutes until the service begins at 6:30 a.m. Complimentary parking is always provided at the resort as well. The Ober Gatlinburg Restaurant will serve a breakfast buffet from 7 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.
One of Springfest’s more delectable events is Gatlinburg’s Ribfest & Wings cook off. If you aren’t a fan of the smell of hickory-smoked barbeque, or just BBQ itself, don’t come in to town. If reading this is making your mouth water, get there early. It’s not just a competition though; everyone gets to sample each vendor’s secret sauces on delectable ribs and wings from some of the best grillers in the Southeast. The festival also doubles as a street party featuring live entertainment, great music, lots of fun and those oh-so-good barbeque ribs and wings sizzlin’ on the grill.
If it’s getting more in touch with nature that you crave, the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage & Greener Living Expo is geared specifically for hikers and nature lovers who want to see Gatlinburg’s wildflowers in their native environment – the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This five-day educational program, hosted by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the University of Tennessee Botany Department, includes walks, exhibitions, demonstrations, lectures and guided auto trips into the wonderful season of spring in the Smoky Mountains.
Need an excuse to buy a few local crafts during all the Gatlinburg Springfest events? How about doing some early Christmas shopping at the town’s Easter Arts & Crafts show? The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community artisans put their unique gifts up for show and sale annually at the Gatlinburg Convention Center during the final weeks of April.
Spring events continue with the Scottish Festival & Games, which has been moved in recent years from Gatlinburg to Maryville College in Maryville, Tn. The annual Scottish Festival & Games is a gathering of local clans and features traditional Scottish athletics, bagpipe competitions, Highland dancing, Border collie demonstrations, haggis hurling, Scottish entertainment, along with food and various Scottish crafts on the grounds.
Gatlinburg also offers its own Fine Arts Festival that features a panel of juried artists from around the country. Delicious local fare and music are a large part of this festival that takes place in downtown Gatlinburg, usually on a weekend in mid-May. Festival proceeds go to benefit the Sevier County Arts Council.
To learn more about these and other events in Gatlinburg, call 800-56-VISIT (568-4748) or visit the town’s tourism website at www.gatlinburg.com.