Are you planning a trip to Dollywood this year? As a frequent visitor of the park, friends often ask me when is the best time of year to go and what is on my do-not-miss list. New or first-time guests are usually surprised to discover that Dollywood has four unique festivals throughout the operating year. Each festival boasts unique food and drink, stunning park installations and so much more. Read on to see why each of these incredible festivals are must-dos on my list!
Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival (April 21 – June 11, 2023)
Spring has finally “sprung” for my family when the blooms of Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival perk up in the mountain mist. As guests stroll under the Umbrella Sky and throughout the park, they can snack and sip on fresh festival food, stand in awe at dozens of larger-than-life mosaic floral installations and watch for signs of the mountains coming back to life.
As the park reawakens from a weary winter hibernation, guests can enjoy signs of spring all around them. Dollywood is always on the lookout for exciting and new entertainment options to the park, so keep your eyes peeled for fun around every corner.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration featuring Sweet Summer Nights Dance and Drone Show (June 17 – Aug. 6, 2023)
There is SO much to see and do during Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration. During the day, park guests will absolutely marvel at the many summer “installations” located around the park. Last season, we loved walking under a whimsical Kite Sky, watching the summer breeze blow through pool noodles hung overhead, navigating through colorfully-wrapped trees, stopping by the numerous sunflower photo opportunities, taking a spin on the Giant Tops, laughing with the whole family in the Bubble Foam Zone, sampling mouth-watering festival food and so much more!
Contrasting the colorful, engaging, and sunny days of Summer Celebration are the electric Sweet Summer Nights. At 8:45 p.m., just before the sun starts to set, guests can head over to Wildwood Grove to take part in a family-friendly dance party before the drone and fireworks show. Read more about the Sweet Summer Nights Dance and Drone show here!
Dollywood’s Harvest Festival featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights (Sept. 22 – Nov. 4, 2023)
When fall is in the air at Dollywood’s Harvest Festival, guests can enjoy pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes! Impressive carved pumpkins decorate every section of the park, pumpkin and gourd towers make for amazing family photo stops, and record-breaking giant pumpkins make the atmosphere in Market Square even more immersive.
Speaking of Market Square, let’s talk about the Harvest Festival’s seasonal food and drinks! While each festival season offers unique and delectable menu options, my favorite treats from the year come from Harvest Festival. My family can’t leave the park without sampling crisp apple cider punch, savory BBQ sandwiches, creamy pumpkin lattes, sweet potato poutine and hearty gumbo. With dozens of savory, sweet and refreshing treats to try, there is truly something for every palate.
Once the sun sets, the park transforms and the Great Pumpkin LumiNights experience comes to life with an enchanting glow. Themed pumpkin installations entertain and delight guests with fun (sometimes spooky) music, eerie mist and captivating lights.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas (Nov. 11 – Jan. 6, 2024)
There’s truly nothing as extraordinary as Christmas at Dollywood. The fresh scents of hot cinnamon bread, peppermint candies and gingerbread funnel cake fill the air. Children giggle as they eagerly await a visit with Santa, ornamented greenery dots the landscape, and resplendent Christmas trees are found in all areas of the park. Grab a hot chocolate and take a stroll with your loved ones as you hit all your favorite rides and attractions, taking in the gorgeous daytime views. Getting chilly or need a break? Dollywood has seven indoor and outdoor holiday shows to celebrate the birth of Christ—the reason for the season!
Every Dollywood festival has its share of delectable treats, and Smoky Mountain Christmas is no exception. When the temperature drops, grab a hot wassail or cider to warm your spirits. Top it off with a holiday funnel cake or perhaps fill up with something fresh off the Market Square skillets- the pot roast fries are my favorite!
When the sun sets on Dollywood, six million twinkling lights enchant and illuminate the park. The feature trees all shine in great majesty, but there is one tree you won’t want to miss: the 50-foot LED tree found in the plaza at the peak of Glacier Ridge! At 6 p.m. every night (and running every 20 minutes after, until the park closes) the tree comes to life with lights and song to tell a precious Christmas story. Make sure you stay until the end of the show; a tree show in Glacier Ridge wouldn’t be complete without a little surprise snow!
When is a good time to visit the park? All the time! If you’re able, I suggest trying to visit during every festival. Delicious and unique festival food and drink, awe-inspiring installations, shows for all ages and incredible decorations are a must-see for all guests looking to celebrate every season in the mountains. So, pack up your car and head to the Great Smoky Mountains during every season—you’re sure to make a million memories!