Participants in decorated kayaks and canoes participate in a flotilla parade as part of Independence Day Celebrations

Independence Day Celebrations

Have fun with family and friends at Lake Junaluska this Independence Day

July 1-4, 2023

Lake Junaluska’s annual Independence Day Celebration features family-friendly fun — from concerts to fireworks to floating wish lanterns. The holiday event will be full of activities as well as time to soak up summer enjoying the lakeside swimming pool, a round of golf or mini golf, a cruise on the Cherokee IV pontoon boat or a canoe, kayak or paddleboard rental. The annual celebration is made possible with support from Visit NC Smokies (Plan Your Trip!) and our Friends of the Lake Sponsors.

Accommodations can be booked now at the lakeside Terrace Hotel and historic Lambuth Inn. We also offer an Independence Day Celebration lodging package, which includes reserved premier seating for our fireworks event on July 3, a picnic boxed lunch served in a soft-sided keepsake Lake Junaluska cooler on July 3,  daily hot breakfast, a guided lake cruise aboard the Cherokee IV and a one-hour kayak, canoe or paddleboard rental.

To book lodging at Lake Junaluska, call 800-222-4930 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or book online.

Spend a fun-filled Independence Day weekend at Lake Junaluska. Book Now or learn more about our Independence Day Celebration lodging package.

Tentative Schedule

The Independence Day Celebration schedule is tentative and is subject to change.

Visitors enjoy an outdoor concert at the lakeside tent
Friday, June 30, 2023

7 p.m. | Blue Ridge Big Band Concert Lakeside White Tent

Floating wish lanterns cast glimmers of light on the water
Saturday, July 1, 2023

6:30-9 a.m. | Terrace Hotel Buffet Breakfast
9-11 a.m.
| Round Robin Tennis Tournament Outfitters Tennis Courts
9:15-9:45 p.m. | Floating Wish Lanterns on the Lake

Summer Worship Series lakeside worship service
Sunday, July 2, 2023

6:30-9 a.m. | Terrace Hotel Buffet Breakfast
9 a.m. | Summer Worship Lakeside White Tent
7 p.m. | Concert with Darren Nicholson Band and Unspoken Tradition (Buy tickets online.) Stuart Auditorium

Fireworks reflect on the water at Lake Junaluska
Monday, July 3, 2023

6:30-9 a.m. | Terrace Hotel Buffet Breakfast
7 a.m.-7 p.m. | Closest to the Pin Golf Competition Lake Junaluska Golf Course
8:30 a.m. | Morning Devotion by the Lake Harrell Center Porch
11 a.m. | Decorated Kayak/Canoe/Paddleboard Flotilla Contest Colonnade
12 p.m. | Judging for Decorated Porches Contest
7 p.m. | Concert (TBA) Lakeside white tent
9:30 p.m. | Fireworks

Independence Day Celebration Square Dance
Tuesday, July 4, 2023

6:30-9 a.m. | Terrace Hotel Buffet Breakfast
11 a.m. | Parade North Lakeshore Drive
12-2 p.m. | Food Trucks & Family Fun on the Fourth
Picnic, Whitewater Bluegrass (live music), Family Square Dance & More Kid-Friendly Fun
Open-Air Nanci Weldon Memorial Gym 

Porch Decorating Contest

Lake Junaluska hosts an annual porch decorating contest as part of the Independence Day Celebration. Take time to drive or walk by participating houses during the holiday festivities. Details are forthcoming.

Recreation, Shopping & Dining

Visit Junaluska Gifts & Grounds, Crepe & Custard, and enjoy the Lake Junaluska golf course, pool, boat rentals, tennis/pickleball, playground, mini-golf, walking trail and gardens, lakeside cruises and library. Memorial Chapel will also be open for prayer.

Group of friends paddleboarding on Lake Junaluska

Family Fun

Free or low-cost family-friendly activities throughout Lake Junaluska’s Independence Day Celebration are offered through the Lake’s Summer Activities Program. Join us for a multi-day Independence Day Celebration  full of activities such as:

  • face painting
  • decorated kayak/canoe/paddleboard flotilla competition
  • parade
  • food trucks
  • family square dance
  • live bluegrass music
  • morning devotion
  • fireworks
  • floating wish lanterns
  • fishing
  • tennis tournament
  • decorated porch contest
  • closest-to-the-pin contest at the golf course

We also invite you to shop or enjoy ice cream at Junaluska Gifts & Grounds; play a round of golf at the Lake Junaluska Golf Course, swim at the lakeside pool, take a tour on the Cherokee IV pontoon boat, or rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard. You can also explore the Christmas Memories shop at Lambuth Inn, lakeside walking trail, playground, and gardens and places of meditation, and enjoy fishing and birding!

Face Painting at Independence Day Celebrations
Floating Wish lanterns glimmer on the lake

Floating Wish Lanterns

As part of Lake Junaluska’s multi-day Independence Day Celebration, staff and volunteers place floating wish lanterns on the lake on Saturday, July 1, at dusk (between 9:15 and 9:45 p.m.). Each lantern carries a name in remembrance or in honor of a loved one. All are welcome to the lakeside to enjoy, celebrate and admire this enchanting and meaningful display. To have a loved one’s name placed on a lantern, you make a donation of $40 per lantern using the online giving form on our website.

Thank you to all who made a gift in 2022 to have a name placed on a lantern. Your gifts support the mission and ministry of Lake Junaluska. A full list of names of those who are honored and memorialized, along with the names of those who gave, is now available. View the full list of 2022 Lake Junaluska Floating Wish Lantern Dedications (PDF) and see an album of photos on Facebook. An online form will be placed on the floating wish lanterns events page closer to the 2023 event for those who would like to make a gift to have a name placed on a lantern.

To help keep the lake clean, the lanterns are biodegradable and staff and volunteers will help gather as many lanterns as possible from the lake after the event as soon as conditions allow.

Whitewater Bluegrass plays music at Independence Day Celebrations-1


Lake Junaluska’s Independence Day Celebrations feature concerts and music. Concerts confirmed for 2023 include:

Independence Day Celebration Square Dance
Kids watch fireworks at Lake Junaluska


Colorful displays of fireworks will cast reflections on the lake as part of Lake Junaluska’s annual Independence Day Celebrations! The fireworks are set off from the bridge over the dam and visible from locations around the lake.

On the day of the fireworks show, the bridge over-the-dam, including the portion of the Walking Trail that goes over the bridge, will close early to vehicular and pedestrian traffic for safety reasons as preparations are made for the event.

Visitors enjoy an outdoor concert at the lakeside tent


Thank you to Visit NC Smokies and our Friends of the Lake sponsors below for helping make this event possible!

Partnership Sponsor

  • Haywood Regional Medical Center

Patron Sponsors

  • Smoky Mountain News
  • Clark & Leatherwood, Inc
  • Maple Tree Veterinary Hospital
  • RCF Construction, Inc.

Friends Sponsors

  • Beverly-Hanks, McElroy & Ellege Team
  • First United Methodist Church, Sylva
  • First United Methodist Church, Waynesville
  • Haywood Ace Hardware
  • Long’s Chapel
  • Pactiv Evergreen
  • The Mountaineer
View of the Lake Junaluska walking trail

Thank you to all who joined us for our 2022 Independence Day Celebration weekend! We enjoyed floating wish lanterns, music, fireworks and more.  We invite you to view photos below and on Lake Junaluska’s Facebook page. You can also view the full list of the 2022 Lake Junaluska Floating Wish Lantern Dedications (PDF) and the special album on Facebook of wish lantern photos. We hope you will make plans now to join us again next year!