Winter Festivities Kick Off in Sevier County

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Gatlinburg (WVLT) - Winter is here and that means Christmas lights are sparkling across Sevier County, and it also means thousands of visitors from all across the country are enjoying the east Tennessee Holiday season.

Volunteer TV's Lauren Davis was in Gatlinburg as the lights came on.

The streets were crawling with tourists taking in the sights and sounds of Christmas. Gatlinburg Tourism Director David Perella says October was good, but they're expecting more crowds in November.

Christmas lights and crowds filled downtown Gatlinburg to ring in the 18th annual Winter Magic Festival. Fireworks lit up the sky to let everyone see Christmas is near after a good October in the Smokies.

"October is our busiest month we had a good October," Perella said.

Perella expects a busier November with the lights and the leaves turning colors a little later than normal. Many merchants are preparing for the Christmas rush, too.

"Merchants staying open in the evenings," Perella said.

Gas prices have risen over the last couple of weeks, but that's not keeping the crowds from coming.

"We have an economic car and get 44 miles to the gallon so it doesn't bother us," tourist Danny Harrell said.

"We're looking at the scenery and it's just great!" tourist Margaret Harrell said.

They're one of many couples who trek to the mountains every year to enjoy the fall leaves in Gatlinburg.

"I love to come, love people, love the atmosphere, love fresh air," tourist Trudy Henderson said.

And that plus Christmas lights are what tourism officials hope will bring out the crowds this Christmas season.

The lights last through February, plus Pigeon Forge lights up Thursday night and Dollywood on Saturday. So if you're looking for something to do this weekend, head to the Smoky Mountains.

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