Saturday, December 31, Gatlinburg will welcome in the New Year in grand style with country music star Beau Braswell and the traditional New Year’s Eve Ball Drop from the iconic Gatlinburg Space Needle. Since 1987, this family friendly celebration is one of the largest organized New Year’s Eve events in the nation. A free concert featuring Braswell and rising country singer Cassidy Diana begins at 10 p.m. in the area adjacent to the Gatlinburg Convention Center near traffic light number 8.
“New Year’s Eve Celebration is a 29-year tradition in Gatlinburg,” said Jim Downs, special events director for the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “No doubt, we will have a big crowd to help us usher in 2017 in a big way.”
Nearly 50,000 people are expected to gather at the base of the Space Needle to ring in the New Year. The ball drop will take place at midnight, and fireworks will go off from the top and sides of the 400-foot tall space Needle. The fireworks show will be produced by Pyro-Shows of LaFollette. Organizers are addressing concerns about the fireworks show being held so soon after this year’s record drought and wildfires.
“A lot of people are asking, ‘Are you going to have fireworks with the fires and things that are happening?’ and we’re very excited to say that we are going to have fireworks,” said Chad Netherland with the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. He said they are using what are called “close proximity” fireworks that mostly produce cool sparks that are similar to those used in pyrotechnic shows.
He said most calls they received were from visitors concerned the show wouldn’t happen. It almost didn’t. Organizers had to wait for the state burn ban to expire before fire marshals would approve the show. “We didn’t have a lot of notice, but we were prepared,” Netherland said. “If it would have been unsafe, then we would have just stopped it at that point.”
Visitors are encouraged to arrive early to take advantage of the celebration specials offered by many Gatlinburg restaurants and businesses. For more information on New Year’s Eve events in Gatlinburg, contact the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-588-1817.