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The Dollywood Flower and Food Festival is a vibrant celebration of spring that my family and I look forward to every year. Nestled in the heart of Pigeon Forge, the festival transforms the beloved theme park into a breathtaking display of Mother Nature’s finest handiwork.
As we entered the park for the first time this season, we were immediately enveloped by the new ways the festival brought spring to life. The air was filled with the scent of fresh blooms and the buzz of excitement from both first-time visitors and seasoned festival-goers.
The festival is more than just a springtime experience; it’s a journey into a world where nature and creativity intertwine, creating memories that last a lifetime.
The Floral Extravaganza
The Dollywood Flower and Food Festival is a feast for the senses, and nowhere is this more evident than in the stunning floral displays that adorn the park.
Dollywood’s Flower Spectacle
From the moment we stepped into the park, we were greeted by a breathtaking display of Mother Nature’s finest work. Beautiful flowers of every hue filled the air with their sweet fragrance, creating a vibrant backdrop for the festival’s activities.
The most captivating feature of the festival, however, was the larger-than-life sculptures. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, these sculptures were a testament to the creativity and skill of the artists. The most popular sculpture, a stunning creation of brilliant flowers, drew crowds throughout the day.
The highlight of the floral spectacle was the larger-than-life mosaicultures. These elaborate floral installations, created by the renowned Montreal-based company, Mosaicultures International, were simply stunning. Each mosaiculture was a work of art, transforming flowers and plants into vibrant, living sculptures.
Dolly’s Butterfly Garden
A special mention must be made of Dolly’s butterfly garden. This beautiful space, filled with numerous displays of May flowers and brilliant butterflies, was a hit with my boys. The vivid colors and stunning display of nature’s beauty made it a memorable part of our visit.
The floral extravaganza at the Dollywood Flower and Food Festival was a testament to the power of nature and the creativity of the human spirit. It was a joy to experience, and I look forward to sharing the stunning photos we took with you throughout this article.
The Umbrella Sky
One of the most enchanting features of the Dollywood Flower and Food Festival was the Umbrella Sky. This whimsical installation added a splash of color to the festival and was a favorite among visitors of all ages.
A Sky Full of Color
As we walked under the umbrella sky, we were enveloped in a canopy of colorful umbrellas. The sight was truly magical, with hundreds of umbrellas suspended in the air, creating a vibrant spectacle against the clear blue sky.
The Butterfly Umbrella
Among the sea of colorful umbrellas, one stood out – the butterfly umbrella. This beautifully crafted piece, with its intricate design and vivid colors, was a crowd favorite. It was a perfect symbol of the festival, combining the beauty of nature with the creativity of art.
The Food Festival
The Dollywood Flower and Food Festival is not just about the visual spectacle; it’s also a culinary delight. The festival offers a unique opportunity to sample a variety of flavors, with dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world.
A World of Flavors
During the festival, new culinary options become available from Dollywood’s acclaimed chefs. The festival features special menu items created by Dollywood’s culinary team that recreate the best traditions of cuisine from around the world. This year’s menu featured fresh spring flavors that could be found in special locations throughout the park.
The Festival Menu
The culinary side of this annual festival features a variety of food items including savory bites like BBQ Pork Sliders, Beef Bulgogi Nachos, a Cobb Salad, and a Cuban Sandwich. For those with a sweet tooth, the festival offers treats like Berry Funnel Cake and Pistachio Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich. Beverages and mocktails like Blueberry Boba Tea and Passion Fruit Lemonade are also available to quench your thirst.
We also really enjoyed the street tacos, street corn salad, honey funnel cakes, pretzel crab melt and we always love Iron Horse Pizza. The festival includes incredible culinary creations that go beyond standard park fare (which is also amazing – especially the cinnamon bread!).
The Food Festival Tasting Pass
One of the main festival elements, of course, is all about the food and delicacies. If you can’t decide on one dish, the festival offers a Tasting Pass. This pass, which can be purchased in the park or online, allows guests to partake in the flavors of spring at different festival locations.
At the time of this writing, the tasting pass is priced at $36.99 plus tax, or $33.99 plus tax for Gold and Diamond season passholders. With this pass, guests can sample five food offerings at any Flower and Food Festival culinary location. This is a fun way to experience the many flavors of the festival and is highly recommended for food enthusiasts.
For more details or to view the full menu with a location and map, you can visit the Dollywood website. The festival is a true celebration of spring, both in its vibrant floral displays and its fresh, flavorful food offerings.
Special Locations and Features
The Dollywood Flower and Food Festival is not just about the flowers and food; it’s also about the special locations and features that make the festival a unique experience.
The Festival Locations
During the festival, more than half a million flowers can be seen across the theme park, and new culinary options become available from Dollywood’s acclaimed chefs. The festival takes its blooms and brilliance throughout Dollywood, starting with photo opportunities as soon as guests step foot through the gates.
Once inside the park, guests find themselves under an array of colorful umbrellas. Many of the fan-favorite displays will be returning at this year’s festival, including the Coat of Many Colors display, which pays a tribute to Dolly Parton’s mother, Avie Lee. This sculpture shows her sewing the famed Coat of Many Colors and is perhaps the most popular sculpture at the festival.
The Big Bear Mountain
New in 2023, the festival features the all-new roller coaster Big Bear Mountain. It is the park’s longest roller coaster with a top speed of 48 mph. This is sure to be a hit with thrill-seekers and is a family coaster, so most members of the family can ride this one.
The Back Porch Theater
Also new in 2023, the festival will feature Love Always at the Back Porch Theater. This show will feature music and lyrics that “speak from the heart”, from classic to country to R&B. It was a wonderful experience for the whole family to enjoy.
The Rivertown Junction
The Rivertown Junction, one of the special locations in the park, offers a unique blend of food, fun, and entertainment. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the festival’s atmosphere.
The Dollywood Flower and Food Festival is a celebration of spring, both in its vibrant floral displays and its fresh, flavorful food offerings. Each special location and feature adds to the overall experience, making it a must-visit event for families. For more details or to view the full menu with a location and map, you can visit the Dollywood website.
Special Features and Entertainment
The Magic of Mosaicultures
The festival is not just about the food; it’s also about the breathtaking display of mother nature. Dollywood partners with an internationally-acclaimed sculpting team to create elaborate floral installations where beautiful flowers come to life throughout the park. These larger-than-life sculptures reach heights up to 15 feet and celebrate the spirit of the Smoky Mountains.
Dolly’s Rich Influence
One of the most popular sculptures at the festival is the beautiful tribute “Coat of Many Colors“, which features a scenic sculpture of Dolly Parton’s mother, Avie Lee. In homage to Dolly’s mother, this sculpture shows her sewing the famed Coat of Many Colors. It’s a touching tribute that resonates with many visitors, especially those familiar with Dolly’s music and her deep connection to her family.
Playful Bears and More
The numerous floral displays include depictions of various animal scenes like chatty mallard ducks, a peacock, rascally raccoons, a butterfly umbrella, a beekeeper sculpture with beehives, and playful bears. These sculptures are not only visually stunning but also provide a fun and educational experience for kids who are curious about the wildlife of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Exciting New Additions
Every year, the festival brings something new and exciting for its visitors. In 2023, the festival will feature “Love Always” at the Back Porch Theater, a show that will feature music and lyrics that “speak from the heart”, from classic to country to R&B. This is a great opportunity for families to enjoy some live music and experience the rich musical heritage that Dollywood is known for.
FireChaser Express is a ride that brings a whole new meaning to the cliche “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” This ride, the nation’s very first dual-launch coaster, takes off quickly from the fire station and proceeds to blast you and the rest of the brave firefighters aboard forwards and backward.
As the very first wing coaster in the United States, the Wild Eagle retains an impressive reputation. This unique ride will give you a better sense for the thrill of flight, removing the track beneath so that you are surrounded by nothing but air during your journey.
Roller coasters are by no means the only rides worth experiencing at Dollywood. The Dollywood Express, which traverses the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, is a journey that lasts a full twenty minutes, allowing you to sit back, relax, and take it all in as you experience the transit delights of another era.
Smoky Mountain River Rampage
An obvious favorite on hot days, the Smoky Mountain River Rampage promises a thorough soaking. This adventure takes you through several dips, twists, and turns, all while highlighting why whitewater rafting remains one of the region’s most beloved outdoor activities.
The abandoned logging camp environment of Daredevil Falls is sure to pique your interest. During this boating expedition, you’ll experience several close calls involving old equipment and even black bears. The literal and figurative high point of the ride arrives as you plunge 60 feet down a vast waterfall.
As you check out Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, don’t hesitate to get in line for this ride, which is designed to reflect the journey of a hot rod from the 1950s. This is no ordinary wooden coaster; it drops 165 feet and reaches top speeds exceeding 70 miles per hour.
If you’ve ever wondered what it might have been like to fly stunts as a pilot during the 1920s, you’ll get a sense of history as you whirl through the Barnstormer ride. This massive swing soars through the air to reach a peak height of 81 feet, which you’ll reach quickly before you plummet back towards the ground.
An integral part of Wildwood Grove, the Dragonflier suspends riders below the track for a surprisingly gentle, yet exciting ride. Ideal for families, this ride has a lower height requirement than most Dollywood coasters, so it’s a great roller coaster introduction for kids.
Satisfy your need for speed with the Tennessee Tornado, which mimics the path of a terrifying twister as it makes its way through an old mining company. This ride may be short, but it packs more than enough excitement into a two-minute journey.
Explore an abandoned mine at breakneck speeds as you navigate this exciting steel coaster. Hop in your mine cart and get ready for a terrifying, but thrilling excursion that will have you wondering if there really is light at the end of the tunnel.
Whether your idea of an amazing ride includes inversions, vertical drops, or beautiful scenery, you’ll find your vision of theme park perfection at Dollywood. You might not be able to pack every single ride into a busy day at the park, but if you hit up the right series of attractions, you’re bound to experience a variety of thrills.
Finally, many of the festival’s favorites will be returning, including Bloom! – a recent addition to the festival that includes an acrobatic performance with dance, circus, and theater. With performers balancing on bending poles nearly 12 feet high, it’s a show that both kids and adults are sure to enjoy.
Live Music and Performances
Last but not least, a highlight of the festival is the entertainment, which will include musicians, Southern gospel groups, contemporary Christian artists, and impressive acrobatics. Shows for the Flower and Food Festival include Bloom!, The Hall Sisters, The Tones, Harmonies of the Heart, Smoky Mountain String Band, Wild Roots Band, and Love Always. These musical performances add an incredible new level of enjoyment to the festival, making it a truly immersive experience for all visitors.
Dolly Parton’s Touch on the Festival
Dolly’s Connection to the Festival
Dolly Parton’s influence on the Dollywood Flower and Food Festival is undeniable. As Dolly herself puts it, “This time of year always puts a little ‘spring’ in my step. It is truly amazing to see all of God’s creation blooming to life all around us in these mountains.” Her love for the Smoky Mountains and the vibrant life they hold is reflected in every aspect of the festival.
The Coat of Many Colors
One of the most touching tributes at the festival is the Coat of Many Colors display. This larger-than-life mosaiculture depicts Dolly’s mother, Avie Lee, sewing the famed Coat of Many Colors. It’s a beautiful representation of Dolly’s deep connection to her family and her roots in the Smoky Mountains.
The Honey Bee Exhibit
In addition to the floral displays, the festival also features a new exhibit that focuses on nature’s noble pollinator, the honey bee. The exhibit, Hug-a-Bee Honey, is owned by Sevierville native Alan Frankenberg, who educates park guests about the importance of the honey bee in our natural ecosystem. This exhibit is a testament to Dolly’s commitment to preserving and celebrating the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains.
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa
The festival elements carry over into Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa where guests find festive décor and stunning floral accents. Daily mocktails and cocktails will be served in The Lounge at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, each drawing inspiration from the essence of springtime. Families can enjoy live entertainment in the lobby atrium, festival-inspired cuisine at Song & Hearth: A Southern Eatery and The Lounge, and festival-themed activities at Camp DW. Guests also can pamper themselves with unique Flower & Food Festival treatments at The Spa.
Dolly Parton’s influence on the Dollywood Flower and Food Festival is evident in every detail, from the vibrant floral displays to the unique entertainment offerings. Her love for the Smoky Mountains and her commitment to preserving their natural beauty make the festival a truly special event.
Final Thoughts on Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival
As our week at the Dollywood Flower and Food Festival came to a close, we found ourselves already looking forward to our visit next year. The festival, with its stunning floral displays, delicious food offerings, and unique entertainment, had exceeded our expectations in every way.
The larger-than-life mosaicultures, the playful bears, the chatty mallard ducks, and the beautiful flowers had transformed the theme park into a vibrant celebration of spring. The umbrella sky, with its colorful umbrellas, added a whimsical touch to the festival, while the special locations like the Rivertown Junction and the Back Porch Theater offered a blend of fun and relaxation.
The food was a highlight of our visit. The festival menu, with its variety of food items, offered something for everyone. The Cuban sandwich with mojo sauce, the street tacos, and the beef bulgogi nachos were a hit with my boys, while my husband and I enjoyed the fresh spring flavors of the quinoa salad and the street corn salad. The food festival tasting pass, which allowed us to sample five food offerings at any Flower & Food Festival culinary location, was a great way to experience the many flavors of the festival.
The festival, presented in partnership with Covenant Health, was not just a celebration of spring; it was a celebration of the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, the creativity of the park’s craftsman, and the spirit of community that Dolly Parton embodies. From the stunning floral displays to the incredible culinary creations, the festival was a testament to the power of nature and the creativity of the human spirit.
As a mom, I can confidently say that the Dollywood Flower and Food Festival offers a unique and enjoyable experience for the whole family. Whether you’re a food enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a fun day out with your family, the festival has something for everyone. I encourage you to visit and experience the magic of the festival for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our pictures from the festival – we really enjoyed it!
Hope to see you there!