There is no doubt that all of us—and I’m guessing all of you—are more excited about the opening of this season than we’ve ever been about a year in Dollywood’s history! With the addition of Wildwood Grove, thrilling festivals all season long, and great entertainment and food, this year is certainly the biggest we’ve ever had!
It all begins with one of our greatest Festival of Nations lineups ever! The event, which begins when the park opens to Season Passholders on March 15, features exhilarating new headline shows, the return of the Passport to Foods and special cooking demonstrations throughout the festival. The best part for families who may be planning their spring breaks is that Festival of Nations is also an educational experience—just don’t tell the kids or let them read this. They’ll never know; it can be our little secret!
One of our headliners this year is Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, which is a fusion dance and music company that mixes Hispanic and Caribbean cultures into each performance. It is considered to include some of the best performers from Cuba and has been together for more than 25 years and entertained on five continents. Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba can be found in DP’s Celebrity Theater.
If you’re like me and you love to eat, the new Passport to Food is just the ticket! Your taste buds can travel the world thanks to this expanded international menu that lets you enjoy savory and sweet delights from a number of countries. I was lucky enough to get to attend a special food tasting (someone has to write the descriptions so you’ll know what you’re getting!).
It was all spectacular, but my favorites were the grilled beef skewers from Trinidad, poutine and fried cheese curds from Canada, and beef bulgogi nachos over wonton chips from South Korea. Oh my gosh the nachos! There also are some very refreshing drinks to wash it all down! Finally, if your sweet tooth is as large as mine, you’ll have to sample some of the great pastries and dessert items we’ve got this year!
There will be great chefs cooking international dishes every weekend during Festival of Nations. Chef Pepin, a well-known Cuban chef who has appeared on a number of national and international television shows, will make some of his most popular recipes during the opening weekend of the festival. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll want to go home and try for yourself.
Here are the other great groups performing this year:
- Invaders Steel Orchestra- One of the world’s oldest and most respected steel drum bands, Invaders Steel Orchestra celebrates more than 75 years of creating festive music for audiences around the world. You’ll feel the Caribbean sand between your toes with this group. Location: The Valley Theater
- Atahualpa – Hailing from Ecuador, Atahualpa combines native Incan instruments with contemporary backups to celebrate the history and culture of the Andes Mountains. Atahualpa’s mix of songs includes contemporary music, South American dance rhythms, and the traditional music of the Andes. Location: Showstreet Gazebo
- De Temps Antan- Traveling from Quebec, Canada, De Temps Antan explores and performs the time-honored melodies from Quebec’s musical past. Location: Back Porch Theater (Performing March 16- 24)
- Les Grands Hurleurs- Les Grands Hurleurs of Quebec, Canada has pushed boundaries and incorporate a variety of musical influences for their own special sound. Location: Back Porch Theater (Performing March 27- April 14)
If you don’t have it yet, this is the year to take advantage of the value of a Dollywood Season Pass. With the opening of Wildwood Grove and the large amount of entertainment and festivals available throughout the season, you will want to visit a lot this year!