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First Independence Day Parade in the Nation / MIDNIGHT / Gatlinburg, TN

  • Downtown Gatlinburg, TN 37738 United States (map)


July 3, 2017 - July 4, 2017


Downtown, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone: (800) 568-4748

Gatlinburg Salutes Firefighters, First Responders and Law EnforcementIn Fourth of July Midnight Parade.

Gatlinburg celebrates the 4th of July in a big way and this year will be no exception. For 42 years, Gatlinburg has kicked off the holiday with the first Independence Parade in the Nation stepping off at 12:01 a.m. on July 4. In recognition of their heroic efforts during the 2016 wildfires, Gatlinburg is proud to announce that the Grand Marshals for the Midnight Parade will be the Firefighters, First Responders and Law Enforcement Officers who came to our aid. 

“For generations, we have shared our hometown with millions of visitors. This is an opportunity for our residents and visitors to come together to thank and salute our hometown heroes not just for their service to Gatlinburg last year, but for service to their communities every day,” says Mark Adams, CEO and President of the Gatlinburg CVB. 

In addition to the community floats, giant balloons and exotic cars, this year’s parade is loaded with new marching units from around the country including: USAF Honor Guard Marching Military Unit from Washington, D.C., the 129th Army Band from Nashville, Tennessee, the Lake City Tiger Marching Band from Minnesota, the Azalea Trail Maids from Mobile, Alabama, New Edition Legacy Marching Band from Maryland and others. 

Leading up to the parade, the 129th Army Band will hold a free concert on Monday, July 3 at 6:00 p.m. on Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza. The festivities continue at Noon on Tuesday, July 4 with the annual River Raft Regatta, an unmanned floatables race beginning at Christ in the Smokies Bridge on River Road and ending at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Bridge. Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. at Christ in the Smokies. The race is free and open to the public. Prizes will be awarded. 

Gatlinburg’s Fourth of July celebrations will come to a close at 10:00 p.m. when visitors will enjoy the spectacular 20-minute fireworks display in the heart of downtown, with the best viewing areas around traffic lights #3 and #5. The 129th Army Band will play prior to the fireworks in a free concert at 9:00 p.m. on the Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza.

Stretching more than a mile, the parade route begins at traffic light #1A on East Parkway, turning south onto Parkway at traffic light #3 and traveling the length of downtown to traffic light #10 at Ski Mountain Road. Parade goers are encouraged to arrive early on Monday, July 3 in order to secure the perfect viewing area along the parade route.

In addition to the Fourth of July events, the streets of Gatlinburg are filled with Appalachian music from Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales every night through July 29. The City offers free Parkway Trolley service, spanning the full length of the Parkway, daily through August 12 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

Join the Gatlinburg conversation via social media; like us at For more information about the 42nd Gatlinburg Fourth of July Midnight Parade and festivities and other summer events, call 1-800-588-1817.


The Gatlinburg Fourth of July Midnight Parade has garnered national attention and award recognition for excellence in entertainment. The parade has been named by National Geographic Traveler Magazine as a “Top Ten Parade to see in the US” and recognized by as one of the “Five Best Fourth of July Celebrations in Smaller Cities.” Additionally, the event has earned multiple Grand Pinnacle Awards by the International Festivals and Events Association and was named a Top 20 Event for 2016 by Southeast Tourism Society.