Dollywood Different: Festival of Nations

I have a theme park confession that may be a little surprising: I can’t ride roller coasters. What? Can’t ride coasters. Why? My old friend Mr. Motion Sickness shows up and it’s no Lightning Rod for Morgan. So what does someone who can’t ride most theme park rides do at a theme park? At Dollywood, the answer is, “So many things!” My favorite thing about Dollywood is that even if I never line up for a ride, I can spend the whole day having a fantastic time at all of the entertainment offerings at Dollywood. Right now through April 9, it’s Festival of Nations time in the park. What exactly does that mean? Let’s find out.

It’s spring in the Smokies, Dollywood is officially open, and the park’s springtime festival, Festival of Nations, is in full swing. Dollywood guests can not only experience the awesome coasters and rides, they can also look through a window to the dances and talents of the world. At most of Dollywood’s theaters and throughout the park, performers from around the globe present shows that represent the cultures of their nations.

Festival of Nations is comprised of eight different shows from the full stage production “Mother Africa” to the street performances of bagpiper Kelly Shipe. Each performance showcases the music, dance, and even traditional folk costumes of nations like Poland, Ireland, and Africa. There are also international food offerings (helloooo, tacos!) to get you from one show to another. Each performance runs several times daily so you can catch a ride or two and then a show, or take in the entire lineup one after another.

What will you see?

Mother Africa

This vibrant stage show at D. P.’s Celebrity Theater combines skillful acrobatics, modern and traditional dance, comedy, and colorful costumes, all set to the music of a live African band. More than 30 minutes of incredible talent and music will leave you cheering.

The performers from this troupe come from all over Africa, so be sure to catch the traditional musical instruments being played by the band members and the regional dances between acts.


These masterful musicians share the history and culture of the Andes Mountains through beautiful traditional music, dance and fun. Atahualpa plays at the Showstreet Gazebo throughout the day.


One of Europe’s most prominent folk dance and music ensembles, Slask features more than 30 dancers in hundreds of richly embroidered, handmade costumes representing the various regions of Poland.

A title and description for each dance is displayed on the screens on either side of the Palace Theater and the dances range from lively group numbers to beautiful duets.

Dearbhail Finnegan and Robin Slater

Irish harp and flute duo, Dearbhail Finnegan and Robin Slater, are a charming husband and wife duo who weave together beautiful music and engaging humor at the Back Porch Theater to bring you an unforgettable experience.

Streichmusik Alder

Live the music and traditions of the Swiss Alps with this warm hearted and talented group of musicians, through unique sounds of the alphorn and other folk instruments, yodeling and stories of the Swiss mountain culture.

Invaders Steel Orchestra

This guest-favorite Festival of Nations act returns to the Valley Theater with the tropical sounds and amazing musicianship of one of the Caribbean’s most recognized steel pan orchestras.

Have a seat and listen to group favorites as well as Caribbean tunes on these amazing instruments.

Kelly Shipe

Kelly Shipe shares her award-winning skills and extensive list of tunes as she fills the streets with the beautiful and haunting sounds of the highland bagpipes. Catch her on Showstreet throughout the day.

Whether you’re ready to launch up the Lightning Rod hill at high speed or not, Dollywood’s Festival of Nations is a full day of shows that will surprise, thrill, and entertain you and your family. And stay tuned to the Insiders through the rest of the year for new rides, new shows, and so much more during Dolly’s Year of the Family.

Get your Dollywood Theme Park tickets now by calling (800) 365-5996 or visiting their website. Dollywood Annual passholders receive special offers and discounts throughout the year, so consider becoming a park passholder for this and other benefits.

By | 2017-07-31T16:01:48+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|Entertainment|0 Comments

About the Author:

Morgan Crutchfield (Dollywood Insider 2016-2017) and her teenage son spend lots of time exploring theme parks looking for exciting experiences and fun tips they can share. Morgan is a huge fan of Dollywood and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, and is honored to be a Dollywood Insider. She is a digital strategist and professional photographer from Knoxville, Tennessee. She is also the co-founder of OntheGoinEastTennessee.com, a website dedicated to helping visitors to the East Tennessee area have the best vacation possible. Morgan can’t wait to share her experiences in Dolly’s Smoky Mountain parks with you!
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