35th annual “Festival of Christmas Past”

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will hold the 35th annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.  

The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public.

This annual celebration of the culture of the Smoky Mountain people, with an emphasis on the Christmas season, was the brainchild of Glenn Cardwell, former Park Ranger and Supervisor at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, 35 years ago.  

“The Festival of Christmas Past has become an institution here at Sugarlands over the decades, much like Glenn himself,” said Kent Cave, North District Resource Education Supervisor. “We always look forward to sharing the traditions of Christmas’ past with Smokies visitors, and in that way continue a tradition of our own,” he added.

The festival will include old-time mountain music featuring the Lost Mill String Band, Boogertown Gap band, and South of the River Boys (who have been a part of the festival since its first years). Demonstrations of traditional domestic skills such as the making of baskets, traditional textiles, quilts, and apple butter will be ongoing throughout the day.  Other special programs include:

• 9:30 a.m. – “Old-fashioned Harp Singing” led by Bruce Wheeler, Paul Clabo and Martha Graham.

• Noon – Charles Maynard telling stories of the holiday season  

• 2 p.m. –  “Stories of the Past” session, presented by the Smoky Mountain Historical Society  

• 11a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. – “Memories Along the Trail” Costumed interpreters will lead a short walk from the visitor center and talk about life in the mountains during the holidays in the early days of the 1880s to the 1930s

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is located on Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Highway 441), two miles south of Gatlinburg. For more information call the visitor center at 865.436.1291.

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