There is no doubt about it—Harvest in the Smokies is a beautiful time of year. And there is no better place to be in the Smokies than at one of America’s favorite fall family destinations…Dollywood! We celebrate the splendor of autumn in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains with our annual guest-favorite event, the Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 24- Oct. 30). As many of you now know by firsthand experience, our family-friendly Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health is a big part of the event, and one that has quickly become a cherished tradition.
When you arrive at the park during the Harvest Festival, you will be greeted by vibrant fall colors draped throughout the surrounding mountainsides. Our landscaping team does an amazing job bringing that beauty right into the park through all of our intricate landscaping and fresh décor. The decor accents the autumn atmosphere perfectly and makes it “ripe” (see what I did there) for your family to create the picture-perfect pumpkin photo ops to share with friends! In fact, we recently won the Golden Ticket for Most Beautiful theme park, so you know those are going to be some fantastic family photos!
Memories that Glow
When the sun goes down, Great Pumpkin LumiNights glows to life and provides bushels of memories, thanks to thousands of glowing and carved pumpkins throughout Dollywood. I have small children who are easily frightened, so this is probably our favorite place to go this time of year. Great Pumpkin LumiNights is a fun and not scary experience, so you don’t have to worry about the tears (or a three-year-old clutching to your leg as you try to act like nothing is going on!). There are a number of impressive displays throughout Timber Canyon, Wilderness Pass and upper Craftsman’s Valley.
Larger than Life Pumpkins
Last season, reinvigorated decorations and visually-impactful landscaping techniques were implemented throughout the park to give everything a fresh, new look. One of the “biggest” additions to last season’s festival returns this year. Once again, you’ll be able to peruse more than a dozen colossal pumpkins. Last year’s prize pumpkins ranged from 800 to 1500 lbs. each. The massive displays come from growers across the East Coast who look forward to sharing these gargantuan gourds.
No festival at Dollywood is complete without award-winning entertainment, and the Harvest Festival certainly delivers. With artists representing genres from Southern gospel and bluegrass to classic country and Americana, there is something to satisfy every musical taste. Performances take place on indoor and outdoor stages throughout the park, allowing the engaging sounds to echo through the surrounding hillsides and create a highly-engaging entertainment offering. Even more artists can be found roaming the park, literally taking the music to the streets!
Among the festival headliners are CeCe Winans (Oct. 9), Pam Tillis (Sept. 29), Jimmy Fortune (Oct. 2), Shenandoah (Oct. 20-21), Karen Peck and New River (Oct. 3), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (Oct. 4), Taylor Red (Sept. 24), Rhonda Vincent and the Rage (Oct. 14-15), Janelle Arthur (Sept. 26) and the Lee University Singers (Oct. 17). A complete schedule can be found on Dollywood.com. Additionally, the new Night Time at the Back Porch offers some of the best up-and-coming performers from the Southeast an opportunity to share their talents during the park’s evening hours.
Autumn Inspired Eats
Dollywood’s culinary team has created a smorgasbord of creations to take advantage of the bountiful supply of crops provided by the Smoky Mountain harvest. The smells of smoked bratwursts, turkey legs, or chicken and andouille sausage gumbo pair nicely with the fresh tastes of sweet potato poutine, spiced pumpkin bisque and BUSH’S three-bean pumpkin chili. For sweet treats, the ever-popular pumpkin spice is in full supply with items ranging from pumpkin spice churros with pumpkin fluff to pumpkin spice salted caramel mocha iced coffee. Items like the maple pecan and bacon funnel cake, hot apple cider and the apple pie milkshake are perfect to carry and enjoy while admiring the beauty of Dollywood in the fall.
Visiting artisans and makers display their handmade wares at locations throughout Dollywood. Many even demonstrate the talented skills and techniques they use while creating their one-of-a-kind treasures.
With so many opportunities for creating vibrant new family traditions, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival is a must-see experience this season.
Dollywood is open 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. each day of operation (Sept. 24- Oct. 30) during the Harvest Festival. The park is closed on Tuesdays throughout the festival. For more information and a park operating calendar, visit Dollywood.com or download the Dollywood app.