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I’m qualified to make that statement for a number of reasons.  Ok, I’m not a huge fan of over commercialized Christmas.  I don’t put up my tree in October.  I hate those restaurants that start stocking trees and ornaments and stockings sometime in September.  (My sister accuses me of being a bit on Scroogie side, but I promise, I’m not.)  I just miss those Christmases from my childhood, the ones where on Christmas morning, nuts and fruits rolled out of a fire-warmed sock that had been hanging from a mantle since the night before.  I miss the Christmases when my mother let us open a single, small gift on Christmas Eve and didn’t finally fall asleep until early Christmas morning, closing our eyes tight when we heard that welcomed rattling from the living room.  Christmases like that are hard to come by these days, and I’ll admit that I have trouble getting into the Christmas spirit—that’s why at some point during every Christmas season, a trip to Dollywood is in order.

Every year, Dollywood Christmas puts me in the mood to celebrate… a few brief hours, capped with a walk through a darkened park, lit with gorgeous lights, shuddering against the coming cold of full blown winter as I enjoy the heat of a Styrofoam cup of sweet, caramel apple cider, and walk towards the real world, brings Christmas back.  Here are just a few of the reason why:

The Lights

In November and December, Dollywood is a winter wonderland, and the Christmas atmosphere is created by millions of lights.  Every building, every tree, every edifice in the park it seems is outlined in beautiful lights in a rainbow of hues.  Want more Christmas lights?  Make sure you plan to stay late in the day and catch Dollywood’s Parade of Lights.  It’s sheer magic, and I promise the enchantment of the parade will put make you forget all your bahs and humbugs.

The Food

The food at Dollywood is always fantastic (…Smoked sausages with onions and pepper anyone?), but at Christmas, there are a few touches that make the food all the better.  Do not leave the park without at least one mug of caramel apple cider.  Make certain that you pick up at least two loaves of warm cinnamon bread (one for now, and one to take back to wherever you’re staying—you’ll thank me tomorrow when you enjoy it with your morning coffee), and you’ll probably want stop into at least one of the buffets (I prefer Aunt Granny’s), for a warm, home-cooked meal that will leave you feeling utterly satisfied and add to your enjoyment of the day.  It’s even better if you share that meal with family and friends.

The Polar Express

If you love the movie, you will also love the ride—it pulls on the heartstrings of kids of all ages.  With its home in the 4D theatre, you’ll experience the wonder and joy of  The Polar Express no matter what your age.  This is a phenomenal experience for kids, but as a mom, this might just be my favorite thing in the park at Christmastime. I won’t spoil the story, but it really will add some wonder to the holiday, and you’ll leave the theatre with a little more Christmas in your heart.

The Music

You know what’s truly great about Dollywood?  The music.  There’s just nothing that compares.  During the winter, Christmas tunes abound, and you’re sure to find yourself humming—or singing—along with White Christmas and Winter Wonderland as you explore the grounds.  Want to warm up and rest up before hitting the next ride?  Stop into any of the theatres for a Christmas Show.  You can pick up a schedule at the front gate for any day of the season, and great music is always an added bonus—no matter which show or theatre you choose.

The People

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Dollywood when I’ve not found myself engaged with an employee.  You will hear, “Merry Christmas,” from those who serve your drinks, oversee rides, and sweep the pavement.  It’s a beautiful touch, even if it’s unintentional.  I’ve never met a sour Dollywood host, and being around happy, helpful people  is just plain uplifting.  (I dare you not to smile and say “Merry Christmas” back.)

What’s your favorite thing about Christmas in the Smokies?  Have you experienced a Dollywood Christmas yet?  If you’re looking for something to do this winter in Pigeon Forge—on any day of the year–remember, Smoky Mountain Things to Do is ultimate resource for information about everything wonderful in the Smoky Mountains!



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