Image via Flickr by Snassek

There’s no better place to spend a summer vacation than in the Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg is the ideal destination for travelers who want to spend their time amongst the beautiful, picturesque mountain scenery. Along with outdoor activities and local attractions, summertime means plenty of special events, too.

Summer gets a bit of an “unofficial” kickoff as Dollywood’s Barbeque and Bluegrass takes place from May 26th through June 4th. Visitors can enjoy yummy barbeque at the park, which will feature daily concerts from some of the best-known bluegrass artists. The lineup for 2017 includes Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Dailey and Vincent, Blue Highway, Hot Rize and Steep Canyon Rangers. All shows are free with Dollywood admission.

For those who don’t mind planning ahead, the Synchronous Fireflies at Elkmont is an experience not to be missed. Synchronous fireflies are the only firefly species in America that can synchronize their light flashing patterns. These synchronous displays happen for about two weeks during the fireflies’ mating season, usually somewhere between the third week of May and the third week of June.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will announce dates for shuttles to take visitors to view the fireflies on April 25, 2017. Then, on April 28th, people will be able to enter a lottery for vehicle passes. On May 10th, passes will be awarded to those lottery winners. To learn more about the process, visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website.

If you love exploring the streets of Gatlinburg, your experience will only be enhanced during the 12th season of Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales. Beginning Friday, June 10th and extending through July 29th, Tunes and Tales is a street performance festival with a variety of performers. Costumed actors, storytellers and artisans will play characters who date back to the 1800s, giving visitors an interactive and unique way to experience Gatlinburg.

Celebrate the birthday of America with Gatlinburg’s First Independence Day Parade. Because it kicks off July 4th at midnight, it has long been known as the country’s very first parade of the day in the United States. National Geographic Traveler Magazine has named the parade as a “Top Ten to See in the US,” and the parade draws as many as 80,000 spectators.

To enjoy summer events and activities in the Great Smoky Mountains to the fullest, take advantage of the Edgewater Hotel and Conference Center’s location right in the heart of Gatlinburg. To make reservations, call 800-423-9585 or visit the hotel website.