The complete guide to the Dollywood Harvest Festival
We love visiting East Tennessee and the Smoky Mountain area in the fall, when all the leaves are at their splendor and there is just a bit of a nip in the air. And going to Dollywood is one of our favorite things – the treats are delicious, the rides are fun, it’s not too hot, and the atmosphere is amazing!
During the Dollywood Harvest Festival, we love visiting all the craftsmen that come to show off their wares. Many of them you can watch while they are crafting. It’s so neat to see all of these handmade crafts all over the park.
So today we’re here to share everything you can expect from Dollywood in October and the Harvest Festival, from the Great Pumpkin Luminights to the food! Plus we will share some pictures we’ve taken from the festival over the last couple of years.
What is the Dollywood Harvest Festival?
The Dollywood Harvest Festival is an annual event that takes place at the Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The annual harvest festival celebrates the fall season with special decor, food, drinks, crafts, and entertainment. This Great Smoky Mountains event has been voted America’s #1 fall family event by USA Today readers!
The festival runs from mid-September through just before Halloween, then the park closes for a week so the crew can decorate for the Smoky Mountain Christmas event.
In 2022, the fall festival runs from September 23 to October 29, 2022.
So, let’s take a look at each of these areas in a little more detail so you know what to expect.
The Park Becomes a Pumpkin Wonderland!
Thanks to the Great Pumpkin Luminights event, you can find thousands of carved pumpkins throughout the park as well as giant pumpkin luminaries. These look great during the day, but they really are amazing at night.
Our favorites have been the giant guitar luminary and the giant spider luminary! There is also a 40 foot pumpkin tree in the back of the park. Some of these are not real pumpkins and they come back every year, but there are thousands of real carved pumpkins throughout the park as well, and they light them all up at night.
Amazing Shows and Entertainment
Dollywood is renowned for their shows and entertainment, and it’s even more so during the Harvest Festival.
You can find scheduled shows all over the park and there are also musicians walking around the park. We really loved it while waiting outside one of the rides when a banjo player walked up and entertained us all with some amazing music!
Some of our favorite shows are:
Harmonies of the Heart
and we really love the Smoky Mountain String Band!
There are way more shows than this, and if you have kids make sure you stop by Dollywood’s Imagination Theater, where some of your favorite books come to life! We got to see Violet the Pilot last time and the boys loved it.
The Harvest Festival is a Craftsman’s Paradise
This is one of our favorite things about the Harvest Festival! You can find so many amazing artisans all over the park with their handmade wares. From paintings and pottery to woodworking, jewelry, and more – there is something for everyone.
We love to watch them work and it’s so neat to see how they make all the different items. We really loved it when the sorghum maker came to the festival and we got to see how sorghum is made – and get some surghum suckers which the kids loved!
Dollywood already has their own craftsman’s village where you can see glass blowing, smithing, hat making and more, but in the fall there are way more artisans in the park!
Fall Food at the Dollywood Harvest Festival
This is one of the things we look forward to the most each year – all the amazing food! From funnel cakes, to kettle corn, to yummy drinks, and of course all the pumpkin flavored things – it’s hard to decide what to eat first.
You can find all of your favorite Dollywood foods throughout the park, but there are also special fall foods only available during the Harvest Festival. And make sure you try their world-famous cinnamon bread! (It’s available year-round and we never miss it)
Some of our favorite fall foods at Dollywood are:
Pumpkin Spice Funnel Cake
(These vary by year so you never know if they will be available at the park, but there are always amazing fall treats and the cinnamon bread is always there)
See our guide to the Best Food at Dollywood for more info on food in the park
See the Smoky Mountain Fall Foliage
The Smoky Mountains are absolutely beautiful in the fall and Dollywood is the perfect place to see the fall foliage. With over 150 acres of parkland, you can find amazing views all around.
Our favorite places to see the fall foliage at Dollywood are:
The Dollywood Express: Take a relaxing 20 minute train ride up the mountain to see the beautiful colors of the leaves. They have two engines that are both coal-fired and have amazing history, which you get to hear about on your journey – and see a lot of the park at the same time!
The Drop Line: Take a leisurely ride up 250 feet to see the entire park and tons of fall colors. You stay at the top for a bit until the fun – you “drop” to the bottom!
Wildwood Grove: This area of the park is perfect for the whole family. The Dragonflier, one of our favorite Dollywood roller coasters, is in this area as are several rides that kids 36″ and up can ride.
Ride the Rides!
Of course, no trip to Dollywood would be complete without riding their award-winning rides. We ride everything in the park (except the youngest who isn’t tall enough yet) and we love it. Even though we go several times a year, we never get tired of the rides.
You can see our Dollywood ride guides here:
Guide to Dollywood Roller Coasters (with videos!)
Guide to the Best Rides at Dollywood (recommendations for kids, thrill seekers, and non-thrill seekers still looking to ride)
Tips for Making the Most of Your Trip
Make sure to download the Dollywood App to see ride wait times and show times. We wrote a guide about it here.
The park is closed on certain days this time of year, usually Tuesdays, so be sure to check the calendar here before you go.
Weekdays will be less crowded than weekends, of course, but Sunday afternoons are also less crowded as the weekend crowd heads home, so it’s a good day to come and then stay into Monday from our experience.
It might be rainy in October in the mountains, so bring some light rain gear. You are allowed to bring a backpack into the park and a bottle of water per guest, so I’d recommend bringing one. All the rides have an area you can put your stuff in, and we’ve never had anyone bother ours.
Final Thoughts on the Dollywood Harvest Festival
The Dollywood Harvest Festival is one of our favorite times to visit the park. It has everything we love – amazing food, beautiful fall colors, great rides, and so much more.
If you are looking for a perfect fall family vacation, we highly recommend a trip to Dollywood during the Harvest Festival!
I hope you take a trip to the Smokies in the fall… it’s an unforgettable experience you’re sure to love.