One of the fun perks of the job is that sometimes we get a special sneak peek of what is coming up for our guests. I recently had the chance to sit in on one of those presentations for the Harvest Festival presented by Humana, and I must say, I’m really excited for what the festival holds for you when you visit this year.
After being named by USA Today as the country’s best fall theme park event last year, there is always pressure to make sure we are delivering the absolute best experience for our guests. When our hard-working team came back with their plans for this year, it is safe to say we are making the case for earning the award again this year. They’ve made several changes that will keep the festival fresh, while also leaning on many of the same warm traditions that have made this event a favorite for so many.
During the day, the first thing you’ll notice is the beauty of fall in the Smokies. Everything just feels different this time of year. The warm autumn sun casts the surrounding Smoky Mountains in bright daylight, displaying the rich, bold hues which blanket the hillsides around the park. The splendor of the mountains highlights the experience you’ll see during the day, but there will be a few new surprises waiting for you throughout the day.
Throughout Dollywood, you’ll see reinvigorated decorations and visually-impactful landscaping techniques that really immerse you in a fresh, new look for the festival. It will be hard to overlook one of the festival’s newest additions, more than a dozen colossal pumpkins which range from 800 to more than 1500 lbs. each. The massive displays come from growers across the East Coast who look forward to sharing their prize pumpkins with park patrons.
At night, Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health continues its expansion into Wildwood Grove, providing more pumpkin perfection to enjoy. In only its fourth year, Great Pumpkin LumiNights has given families a multitude of memories to glow about. New this season, if you’re interested in making a quick trip to experience the pumpkins as they glow to life, be sure to check out the new reduced-price ticket which provides entry after 5 p.m. The ticket, which is $35 plus tax, is a limited-time offer and available online only. Blackout dates apply. Check out the details here.
As you make your way through the park, you’ll experience the sounds of both bluegrass and Southern gospel music ringing throughout Dollywood from additional open-air stages, bringing the music outside to create a highly-engaging entertainment offering. There will be more than 800 concerts during the run of the festival from artists appearing on eight different outdoor stages. Additional artists can be found roaming the park, literally taking the music to the streets!
Culinary creations abound, thanks to the bountiful supply of crops from a Smoky Mountain harvest. The smells of smoked beef brisket, turkey legs and Italian sausage pair nicely with the fresh tastes of fried green tomatoes, fire-roasted corn and sweet potato casserole. For sweet treats, the ever-popular pumpkin spice is in full supply with items ranging from pumpkin spice milkshakes and cinnamon rolls to a twist on the park’s beloved cinnamon bread. Pumpkin praline funnel cake, hot wassail and harvest kettle corn are perfect to carry and enjoy while admiring the beauty of Dollywood in the fall.
With so many opportunities for creating vibrant new family traditions, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival is a must-see experience this season. The park is open 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. each day of operation (Sept. 25- Oct. 31) during the festival. The park is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the festival.