I Never Thought I’d See That at Dollywood

With motherhood comes many of those, “I never thought I’d (fill in the blank here)” realizations. Dinnertime conversations, for example, can include topics I’d never DREAM to discuss above a whisper three years ago. (Somehow, I did not know that the tiniest humans can make the BIGGEST, smelliest messes?!) One of these newer realizations is about the entertainment I consume. While I may be seeing a LOT of trains and Paw Patrol these days, I also have the opportunity to expose myself to global cultures—by visiting Dollywood! Festival of Nations always opens the theme park’s season with world-class acts that have entertained sold-out arenas, diplomats and even royalty. Did you know that? As a kid I would bypass the shows and go straight to the rides, but as an adult, I appreciate the [educational] opportunity to see these acts while visiting my favorite theme park. Not to mention—they’re all REALLY good shows!

Last year, my favorite show was Mother Africa—and it’s back this year. I can truly say I NEVER thought I’d have the opportunity to be entertained by acrobatic unicyclists, contortionists and a child juggling act. This is not a child juggling objects. I’m talking about a child being the object the juggler flips through the air. The act takes innocence and makes it bold; celebrates youthful play with a twist on your imagination. The child is a professional athlete in his own right and earns his own applause as the star of that performance. IT’S FASCINATING. They’re so talented!

No, really. You need to bring your family to see this show. All Festival of Nations shows are included with your paid admission to Dollywood. You’re going to need to take a break from all the fun at some point—work this show into your schedule. From bright costumes to the immersive set, you’ll be intrigued from the beginning. Every performer on the stage is impressive. They all have their own act. It may be dancing or singing, or it may be an act with dozens of hula hoops, or tremendous feats of balance. What strikes me is the way they take whimsical games we all played as children (hula hoops, jump rope, etc.) and use those global commonalities to resonate with their audience. I remember changing my mind which act was my favorite every time someone different stepped into the spotlight. It’s creative, funny, spirited and you get a sense of the community these athletes represent.

Watch this clip and I know you’ll want to see more.


Mother Africa is a production that embodies the pride of its residents all over the continent—from Algeria to South Africa and Somalia to Sierra Leone. It’s as entertaining as the circus, but it’s also educational. Take this opportunity to expose your children to other world cultures and have a discussion about the beauty of tradition and heritage. Shoot, you’ll even learn something yourself! Sometimes, the things you “never thought you’d do” can be the most enjoyable memories in life.

By | 2017-07-27T17:37:29+00:00 March 13th, 2017|Attractions, Trip Planning|0 Comments

About the Author:

Amber Davis is in the thick of navigating life as a working mom. She regularly balances meetings and tantrums —from her children, not coworkers. Growing up in Knoxville, Amber visited Dollywood and Sevier County often and now loves to share the same experiences with her own young family. Read More!
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