Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Years and January 2012

Who says the winter after Christmas gets dull in the Smokies? There are two very popular events worth posting on in just the first week of January.

First is the New Years Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks in downtown Gatlinburg which promises to be one of the biggest parties for miles and miles around. The streets will be filled with party-goers having a great time in the Smokies, listening to the music being played by Pyro-Shows until the big fireworks display at the Space Needle. When the big tower explodes in a storm of fireworks, you'll know it's time to celebrate the New Year!

Next up from there is the Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge on Music Road from January 7-14. This is an event for serious nature lovers and fans of the Smoky Mountains to come and see what the mountains are all about. There will be plenty of indepth lectures, guest speakers, exhibits, demonstrations, vendors and even guided walks that's perfect for kids and adults. You can see more of that at http://www.mypigeonforge.com/events_winterfest_wilderness.aspx.

And you'll be able to get to both in 15 minutes while staying at Sidney James here in Gatlinburg. Stay tuned for more as Winterfest continues on and we look at new special events coming up!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade 2011

Still more Winterfest activity going on? Down in the center of town? That I can get to from Sidney James in just 10-12 minutes walking time without fighting traffic or parking space?

You bet! And this week is the big one - The Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade on December 2nd (Friday) at 7:30PM! All throughout the main downtown road, from Alamo Steakhouse on Highway 321 to Stoplight #10, our favorite carolers, characters, floats, locals and even the Polar Express itself will be walking, dancing, singing, marching and rolling down the streets for an hour-or-more long Winterfest party!

Our location is ideal for getting to and from the festivities with minimal wear and tear. You and the kids will be back to luxury in no time, and for years ahead you'll talk about how good that night was back when you were young.

Make your reservations today at www.sidneyjames.com.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Winterfest Kick Off!

Gracious goodness, is it already time to think about Winterfest? You bet it is, and Sidney James is your key to enjoying everything November can offer for you!

First up is the Chili Cook-off and Winterfest Kick-off on November 10th from 5:00PM to 8:00PM. This is a huge party at Ripley's Aquarium just a few minutes walking distance from us (and probably faster than driving and parking) with 30,000 cups of chili (with the purchase of an admission "spoon") from nearly two dozen vendors and restaurants plus loads of great, free fun for the whole family! Music, entertainment for the kids and then the big switch for the start of Winterfest (and the accompanying trolley tours) as the million-dollar lighting displays all go up around the city. Again, you could walk there and back much easier and probably faster than you could to drive and park - convenience is the name of the game at Sidney James!

And that convenience will also come in handy when it gets to be Thanksgiving time and the W.L. Mills auditorium hosts three special events for the Thanksgiving weekend (November 22nd to the 26th for all three events at one time) - the Gatlinburg Festival of Trees, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Holiday Show, and the Nutcracker "Sweet", about 3 days of quality holiday entertainment just 5-6 minutes of walking from Sidney James Mountain Lodge.

Make your reservations today at www.sidneyjames.com because Winterfest reservations, as you might imagine, go pretty quickly in this magical season and we want to share that season's magic with you. Make your reservations today!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October Fun in the Smokies

October is finally here and we're glad to have it at last! As of writing, we're expecting the full Autumn bloom within the next week or so and there's plenty of great stuff to do while you wait, or in the meantime as the leaves come down on us here in Gatlinburg.

For those of you who want to see the Harvest Festival side of October, Gatlinburg offers you the entire month of great cultural events to partake in. October 6th-23rd is the Annual Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair for the Fall Season (there are about three a year!) and you get to watch all your favorite artists and artisans from the area and areas beyond craft those wares right in front of your eyes. The Craftsmen's Fair is at W.L. Mills Auditorium in downtown Gatlinburg and just a 5-10 minute walk from us here at Sidney James.

There is also the Oktoberfest going on all month up at Ober Gatlinburg with all the German folk dancing, singing, food and entertainment you can handle! The Arts and Crafts Community is also excellent for the artistic side of Gatlinburg, and when you want to see those gorgeous colors all on their own and you can drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (self-guided vehicle tour through the mountains) for some great photo opportunities. Roaring Fork Motor Nature trail is on the road we're on, so you just need to go up the road a little bit to start.

For those who want to come for the Halloween opportunities, Ripley's Haunted Adventure is where you want to go for scares and screams at the month-long Fright Night with its new show, "Backwoods Terror: You Just Made a Wrong Turn.", there is also the Mysterious Mansion (long rumored itself to be genuinely haunted) on River Road for more haunted house fun and Gatlinburg itself is perfect for trick or treating! Again, these are all easy walking from us here at Sidney James.

October is a lot of fun for people of all ages, so come on out for Halloween or the Autumn bloom or any time at all. The Smokies welcomes you!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Harvest Festival 2011

September is here and Autumn is on its coattails as we get ready to celebrate the Harvest Festival here in the East Tennessee section of the Smoky Mountains. The colors, the cooler temperatures and the atmosphere in general is something you can just drink in as you walk around the city of Gatlinburg between now and November.

There are a lot of great reasons to visit the Smokies during Harvest Festival - and here they are:

Taste of Autumn
Location: Gatlinburg Convention Center
Description: The Taste of Autumn has been Gatlinburg's tastiest charity event for 13 years. A $25 donation will give you access to food from all kinds of vendors with the best food in town at the huge W.L. Mills Auditorium. All proceeds go to the United Way of Sevier County.
Start Date: September 15th
End Date: September 15h
Link Out: http://www.eventsgatlinburg.com/event_detail.aspx?id=7

Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament
Location: Gatlinburg Convention Center
Description: This popular event is hosted by Rocky Top Outfitter and is open to children as well as adults, visitors as well as local. Admission prices apply.
Start Date: September 24th
End Date: September 25th
Link Out: www.rockytopoutfitter.com

Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg
Location: Ober Gatlinburg
Description: German food and German fun on top of the world for the Fall Season! Get in early and join in the music, dancing and everything else Ober Gatlinburg has to offer
Start Date: September 30th
End Date: October 30th
Link Out: www.obergatlinburg.com

Ripley's Fright Nights
Location: Ripley's Haunted Adventure
Description: An entire month of screams, frights and thrills to celebrate Halloween in Gatlinburg. Character parades, the living dead, and things you better say your prayers to prepare for.
Start Date: October 1st
End Date: October 31st
Link Out: www.ripleys.com/gatlinburg/

Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair
Location: W.L. Mills Convention Center
Description: Artists and Crafters local and from hundreds of miles around gather at the Gatlinburg Convention Center where over 120 booths and all kinds of handcrafted items, plus the artists, are on display.
Start Date: October 6th
End Date: October 23rd
Link Out: www.craftsmenfair.com

Trick or Treat Kick off Karnival
Location: Downtown Gatlinburg
Description: From Noon to 3 P.M. Gatlinburg will celebrate Halloween with the Gatlinburg Police Department and Gatlinburg Fire Department working in conjunction to offer a safe, family fun filled trip for everyone!
Start Date: October 31st
End Date: October 31st
Link Out: www.eventsgatlinburg.com/event_detail.aspx?id=54

Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff
Location: Downtown Gatlinburg
Description: Offering mouth-watering recipes of homemade chili ranging from mild and delightful to wild and adventurous, the City of Gatlinburg celebrates the start of Winter with an awesome Chili Cookoff! Bring admission and a lot of napkins.
Start Date: November 9th
End Date: November 9th
Link Out: www.eventsgatlinburg.com/event_detail.aspx?id=11

Trolley Ride of Lights
Location: Downtown Gatlinburg
Description: Visitors can soak up the spirit of the season from the comfort of a Gatlinburg Trolley by taking the relaxing Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights. These are popular guided excursions that are sure to become a tradition.
Start Date: November 9th
End Date: January 30th
Link Out: www.eventsgatlinburg.com/event_detail.aspx?id=13
Mark your calendars and build your itineraries because it's going to be an awesome Autumn for the Smoky Mountains!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Plan a Trip to Cherokee, North Carolina

Have you been across the National Park to Cherokee, NC? Cherokee is a sort of bookend to Gatlinburg and well worth a day trip visit out.

Cherokee is located on the other side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the Spur, on the same highway that the Sugarlands Visitor Center is on. From there, it is an hour's drive through the National Park, across THE most gorgeous scenery in the Tennessee Smokies (and over a dozen stopping-parking spots to take pictures, several hiking trails and plenty of picnicking opportunities), from the tops of the hills and then down again at the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center, which is your sign that you're 3-5 minutes away from Cherokee.

Once inside, you can go straight, take a turn left, or stop at the Arcade/Fun Center right at the gates into the town if the kids are getting antsy or you need a good place to stretch your legs a bit. Going left will take you to some hotels, some restaurants and some shopping alongside another arcade and fun center. Going straight will take you straight into the heart of the town. Cherokee is fairly small (about the size of Gatlinburg) and it's pretty hard to get lost.

From there are plenty of things to do from the aforementioned Arcades/Fun Centers to more cultural items of interest, like the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center, which offers a walking trail, historical architecture, and some exhibits on Appalachian culture from the old days, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, which is, appropriately, the authority on Cherokee history and information with hundred of exhibits and excellent video presentations throughout the tour, the Oconaluftee Indian Village, which is a working Cherokee Indian Village meant to show you what life back in 1760 was like for the Cherokee Indians, and Unto These Hills, a dramatic production high in the hills showcasing the story of Tsali and more history plus incredible musical numbers.

Cherokee also features an island park where kids can wade in the Oconaluftee river or a canal in the center of the park plus a large, unique bamboo grove full of photo opportunities. If you have kids who like to skate, take them to the free skate park. If all else fails, Harrah's Cherokee Casino is a huge facility with entertainment like you can't get for miles and miles around.

Cherokee, NC is a little town with a lot to offer, so if you're looking for something different and you want to see a lot of gorgeous Smoky Mountain scenery on the way there, plan a day trip out and you won't be disappointed.

To get to Cherokee from Gatlinburg, take the Gatlinburg Bypass from the Spur (just 2 minutes before you reach the city from Pigeon Forge) and keep on straight for roughly an hour.

All pictures are copyright Ge'ne L. K. Lawhead

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July Craftsmen's Fair

For those who may have been to the Craftsmen's Fair for a while, the one in July, and likely more to come, would have surprised you. You would've arrived to find so many booths (more than 160 as listed by the Craftsmen's information sheet) that many of them had to spread out into the hallways and even outside the W.L. Mills Convention Center in downtown Gatlinburg.

With 160+ booths and artists both local and from Virginia, Ohio, Georgia and way beyond, there was, of course, a wide berth of arts and crafts from candles, baskets, wood works, rock works, paintings, clothes and music to Christmas trees, sports-based fan pulls, old fashioned rifles, shields, interesting lights, and much more than any human being could hope to absorb in a few hours. Crafts marketplace and auctions recommended.

If you're coming to the Autumn Craftsmen's Fair and you just can't get enough of hand-made arts the likes of which you've seen and haven't seen before, the $6.00 admission fee is well worth it. Unfortunately, we were not able to get pictures, but we can guarantee you you've probably never seen a convention center this packed with amazing arts and crafts from nearly the entire Eastern half of the country.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Craftsmens' Fair and More for July

While it's true there aren't any holiday festivals or special events coming up for a while after the 4th of July, it doesn't mean there isn't anything to do in Gatlinburg - very far from it!

We consistently recommend The Ripley's Aquarium, Ober Gatlinburg, the Arts and Crafts Community, Dollywood and Dolly's Splash Country for major entertainment in the Smokies. Those five items alone can account for a week or more of fun for the whole family, no matter the age. Dozens more on a smaller scale exist throughout downtown Gatlinburg, and don't forget the Titanic Museum and Wonderworks! And the hiking, and horseback riding. All and all, it could take you half a year or more to actually do everything there is to do here if you were doing attractions one-by-one, every single day. There is no real "lull" period in the summer here in the Smokies, there's always something fun to go do!

Actually, there is a special event to tell you about, July 15th to the 23rd is the Summer Gatlinburg Craftsmens' Fair at W.L. Mills auditorium which is a large showcase of local artists and artisans putting their Smoky Mountain heritage to art and showing them off. Crafts marketplace and auctions recommended. You can get to this event very easily from all our properties here in Gatlinburg by car, trolley or even walking.

Anytime can be a great time in the Smokies, special events or not! Make your reservations today and let us know how we can make those Smoky Mountain memories you came here for.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Summertime Fun in the Smokies!

Everyone looks forward to June for a vacation and the Smokies are one of the best places in the country to visit. Now that you're here, what can you take the kids to do?

Sidney James is within walking distance to several great places for the family, including Ober Gatlinburg, Ripley's Believe it or Not!, Ripley's Aquarium and much more!

Dollywood's Kidfest
June 17-August 7

And speaking of kids, Dollywood is returning Kidsfest for the main section of summer filled with great activities for young kids including performances, roaming characters and of course the rides!

Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales
June 17-August 13

Gatlinburg's summer-wide event sees street performers, storytellers and even some dancers at various points throughout the main downtown section of the city. Great for a night out on the town!

New Restaurants in Gatlinburg!
There are a bunch of new openings that have people talking - Gatlinburg is now home to the Mellow Mushroom, Dick's Last Resort, and soon to come, The Melting Pot - each offering something genuinely unique to the restaurant scene in Gatlinburg.

Bringing Kids to the Park?
There are all kinds of opportunities for the young ones to enjoy themselves in the National Park; hiking and Sugarlands Visitors Center but there are Ranger-guided Programs as well and you can see them at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/events.htm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales 2011!

Its hard to say we look forward to one season over the other here in the mountains, but summer has a special place in our hearts as with Springfest, Harvest Festival and the holidays as we enjoy the plethora of opportunities, natural and man-made, the Smokies gives us for a short or extended summer vacation!

Downtown Gatlinburg just by itself is a weekend's worth of entertainment within just 10 minutes of walking through the downtown area. Ripley's Aquarium is a must-see as well as Ober Gatlinburg, the city's mountain-high family fun park. There's also the Guinness World of Records Museum, Ripley's Believe it or Not!, Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery, and about 2 dozen or more mini-golf and arcades for the kids to enjoy.

For those of you older who want to see something in the city of Gatlinburg can enjoy the 6th Annual Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales going on from June 17th to August 13 for the 2011 season. The dusk walk through the main downtown area now boasts streetside performers of music, storytelling and the dancing varieties! Definitely gives good reason to take a stroll before calling it a night.

And convenience to downtown is just one of many reasons to stay at Sidney James! Bring the kids for our pools, poolside cafe, and proximity to Mynatt Park. And if you want to hit Pigeon Forge, just take our trolley stop to the trolley hub and connect from there! A whole summer of fun awaits you at Sidney James!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ribsfest 2011

Ribsfest 2011 was another smash hit with hundreds at least in attendance! Although the venue moved back to Ripley's Aquarium (and this writer was unaware of that until arrival), it didn't deter people from having a great night surrounded by great entertainment and mountains of great food.

Here are a bunch of pictures that show all the action in play - we even somehow spotted Santa Clause reveling with the crowd and enjoying the event. Take a look at what you'll likely get to see late April next year!

Photos courtesy of Ge'ne L.K. Lawhead. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gatlinburg Screenfest 2011

The first major Gatlinburg event of Spring is the upcoming 3rd Annual Gatlinburg Screenfest. A Screenfest for Springfest! Gatlinburg has world-wide recognition as a center for the arts here in this section of the Smokies, and the Screenfest adds a whole new level to that truth.

The 3rd annual Gatlinburg Screenfest which features nearly 2 dozen short films by independent directors and talent in the areas. Horror, drama, documentary style and more will all be featured. Its a great way to experience an offbeat side of Gatlinburg that isn't seen very often and for that reason should not be missed.
Visit http://gatlinburgscreenfest.com/films/ for all the information you need on this event.

Sidney James Mountain Lodge and all of our other properties in Gatlinburg offer great access to events in Gatlinburg such as this and plenty of luxury to come back too after a great day or night out. See www.sidneyjames.com for everything we can offer your Smoky Mountain vacation.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Valentine's Day - Just Around the Corner

Yes, that special time of year for love birds is back on February 14th, 2011. Valentine's Day has a habit of sneaking up on us, so make your reservations for Sidney James and make them early - Gatlinburg is a highly magical and romantic place for visitors of the Great Smoky Mountains and it tends to fill up for reasons and seasons just like this.

And don't forget to take advantage of our new special listed below. We hope to see you and your loved one this Valentine's Day!