Winter Heritage Festival in the Smokies began in 2007 as a showcase of the history, beauty, and cultural significance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In this, the festival’s third year, it has been chosen by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the top 20 events for the month of February.
The festival brings together locals and tourists alike who share a common interest in the area’s history and culture. Businesses and organizations in the Townsend and Cades Cove area host the annual event, which features exhibits, speakers, historians, guided tours and more.
What to Know Before Arriving
Most of the activities and presentations are free, so you can enjoy the entire weekend without spending a small fortune. However, some activities like dinners or guided tours do charge a small fee. Where space is limited it’s usually best to make reservations ahead of time. When in doubt, always call ahead.
What to Do Once You Get Here
Winter Heritage Festival in the Smokies is all about preserving the culture and traditions of the region. You’ll enjoy demonstrations by local artisans, performances of traditional Appalachian music, and exhibits highlighting the natural history of the Smokies.
Local artisans show off their skills in woodworking, carving, and spinning. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the mountain life your ancestors led when you witness the time it takes to turn wool into thread for sewing or yarn for knitting. Even the simplest of tasks, like cooking for the family, required handmade bowls and utensils.
For the more adventurous, there are guided hikes through some of the park’s 800 miles of trails. Evening activities include the “Owl Prowl” led by retired park ranger Butch McDade. If dinner and dancing is more your style head to the old fashioned BBQ supper and barn dance at the Barn Event Center.
The Little River Railroad Museum offers walking tours of the cities of Tremont, Elkmont, and Townsend. Get a feel for the history of the towns and learn about Appalachian culture while enjoying a stroll in the crisp winter air.
History buffs will love to sit and listen to the many scheduled speakers. Verna Burchfield Myers discusses family life in the Smoky Mountains. Larry Sparks tells of the life of a frontiersman and Butch McDade relates the adventures of travel writer and librarian Horace Kephart.
Make time to visit the Mountain Craft Showcase where you’ll find exceptional pottery, baskets and other items made right before your eyes.
Make Plans Now
The 2010 Winter Heritage Festival kicks off Thursday February 4, 2010 at 7:00pm with a concert featuring Mountain Voices and Pistol Creek. A reception with light hors d’oeuvres follows. The festivities conclude on Sunday.
With the popularity of this event, lodging will book up fast so start your search for nearby cabins and chalets now. Winter Heritage Festival is a family-friendly annual event you and your family won’t want to miss.