By Leif Palmer
Posted on March 10, 2020
If your travel plans happen to take you to the Smokies this weekend, you could be among the first people to visit Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge for their 2020 season. In fact, this is their 35th season of providing family fun for all ages, and visitors who go there this year will have some new things to discover.
Their official opening date is Saturday, March 14(update: opening now delayed), and they'll kick things off like they've been doing for the past 20 years with the Festival of Nations, which will run through April 20. This year's internationally-themed event will showcase some new headlining acts in the park's theaters, including Namaste, India – which takes audiences on a journey through that country via dance, music, costumes and visual imagery – and Ole! (aka Gypsy Kings of Comedy), whose unpredictable performers sing, dance, play instruments and interact with the audience. Returning to the festival this year is Drumstruck, featuring West African music, dance and international food offerings.
Later this spring, however, is a brand-new festival at Dollywood – the Flower & Food Festival. That event runs May 8 through June 14 and, like so many other components of Dollywood, was inspired by Dolly Parton's memories of growing up in the Smokies. The park will showcase nearly a half-million plants and flowers, which will be assembled into horticultural sculptures of turtles, frogs, black bears and more.
The event will also offer new photo opps throughout the park, including an “umbrella sky” on Showstreet that will be made of 600 colorful suspended umbrellas. And of course, the festival will include new foods inspired by springtime in the Smokies. These new dishes will be served both at Dollywood's full-service eateries and their quick-service booths in the Market Square and Rivertown Junction areas of the park.
Other items of note about this season at Dollywood: The annual Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival will start earlier this year, running April 24 to May 3 and filling the gap between Festival of Nations and the Flower & Food Festival. Also, the popular Gazillion Bubbles show will return to the park after a three-year absence and will take place during Dollywood's Summer Celebration, June 20 to August 2.
Even if you plan to come to Gatlinburg this year, you can still easily work in a trip to Dollywood and Pigeon Forge. You can park in one of our downtown facilities, walk or trolley to your Gatlinburg destinations, and then take a trolley to Pigeon Forge and connect to the trolley running to Dollywood. It's an easy and inexpensive way to get around and let someone else do all the driving. Check elsewhere on our website for our Gatlinburg parking garage hours this spring.
About Leif Palmer
Leif Palmer loves residing in Gatlinburg. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.