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Headed to Dollywood in October? This guide will tell you all you need to know to enjoy the Harvest Festival and the Great Pumpkin Luminights!

Dollywood is a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and it’s especially beautiful during October when they have their annual Harvest Festival. The fall season is a wonderful time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, as this is when you will see the area come alive with wonderful fall events and gorgeous fall foliage on full display.

This festival features craftsmen from all over the nation who come to show off their skills. Park guests can also see thousands of carved pumpkins and pumpkin luminaries, and it’s an amazing experience!

Our entire family loves to visit Dollywood at any time of year, but I have to say, October is really one of our favorite times to visit. We love Christmas at Dollywood, but it gets pretty cold then, and during October the weather is usually perfect. It’s really the perfect time to visit and get some fresh mountain air.

the author and her family in front of a pumpkin display
My boys and I in October 2020

What is the Dollywood Harvest Festival?

The Dollywood Fall Festival begins near the end of September and runs almost to Halloween. It’s been voted the #1 Fall Family Event by USA Today readers, and we can see why it’s been rated the best theme park harvest event!

During this time you can see the beautiful fall foliage in the area, and the views from some of the rides at Dollywood really show you all that spectacular color. That’s one reason October is one of the most popular months to visit the Great Smoky Mountains!

Once the sun goes down, all those gorgeous pumpkins you see throughout the park are transformed into an illuminated nightly show. Don’t worry, though, there’s nothing at all scary here. No ghosts, goblins or things that go bump in the night, just good, safe fun for kids of all ages.

Insider Tip: Make sure you ride the Dollywood Express if you visit Dollywood in October, as it really offers some great views of the fall foliage. The train ride lasts about 20 minutes and is for all ages.

pumpkins in front of the Dollywood Express

What types of craftsmen come to the Harvest Festival?

Every year it is a bit different, as different craftsmen come to the festival, but here are a few of the things we’ve seen over the years:

  • Sorghum Making
  • Clay Jewelry
  • Pottery
  • Woodworking
  • Silverware Jewelry
  • Glass Painting

This is in addition to the craftsmen that already call the park home and do amazing things like blacksmithing, candlemaking, glass blowing and leather crafts, just to name a few of our favorites.

pumpkin luminary shaped like a guitar at night

What are the Great Pumpkin Luminights?

During nighttime hours, the amazing pumpkin sculptures and thousands of real carved pumpkins light up the night with seasonal displays and cast a friendly orange glow throughout the park.

During the day, check out the gigantic pumpkins – each one weighs at least 800 pounds and some are up to 1500 pounds! Those are some huge pumpkins! These come from growers along the East Coast who love to show off their prize-winning pumpkins at Dollywood.

We especially love the sunflower garden in Wildwood Grove, the floating frogs, pumpkin spider and guitar, and also the giant pumpkin tree! Everywhere you go there are wonderful things to discover at this nightly event.

giant spider luminary at night

Are there any fall-inspired things to eat at Dollywood in October?

Most definitely! While the cinnamon bread at the Grist Mill is a family favorite any time of year, there are some culinary creations that are around only during the Harvest Festival.

Some of the flavors of fall that grace the park during this time are sweet potato poutine, smoked brats with potato hash and red cabbage jam, roasted sweet potato and pumpkin corn chowder and balsalmic honey mustard glazed pork chops, among others.

Of course, you can still eat delicious food at your favorite Dollywood restaurants, too! Check out the best food in Dollywood.

wildwood grove lit up at night

What is the weather like in the Smoky Mountains in October?

Oh, man, it’s usually perfect!! It’s usually very mild, with average highs in the low 70’s and nighttime temps of 44 on average, so bring a jacket for after the sun sets, but it’s not terribly cold. It’s the perfect temperature to make family memories without being miserable, ride the popular rides (like the Wild Eagle) and see the foliage, and get a birds-eye view of the wonderful decorations.

This is a great temperature to ride all the rides without it being super hot like it gets in the summer, and before the temperatures dip too low like they do later in the year. In fact, Dollywood isn’t even open from after New Year’s until mid-March because of the cold!

butterfly pumpkin luminary during the day

Common Questions about Dollywood in October

Is October a good time to visit Dollywood?

It’s an amazing time! The weather is great, the rides are open and the Harvest Festival and Great Pumpkin Luminights event is going on. It is the busiest month of the year for the area, though, so be prepared for crowds because it’s such a special time of year that it brings people from all over the country.

Are Dollywood rides open in October?

Yes, every ride is open in October. In fact, the rides are even open at Christmastime unless the temperatures drop below 40, and even then only some of the rides shut down. October is a great time to ride every ride in the park.

What days is Dollywood closed in October?

This may vary by year, but typically Dollywood closes in October on its least popular day, which usually is just on Tuesdays. The park is open all of the other days of the week, just don’t plan any Dollywood activity on Tuesday. Dollywood hours for October are typically 10AM-9PM.

Can you visit Dollywood’s Splash Country in October?

No, the water park is closed after Labor Day and doesn’t reopen until the weather warms up in May.

How long does Dollywood’s Harvest Festival last?

This event usually runs from the third week in September (usually around the 22 or 23) until a day or two before Halloween. The park closes at the end of October to take down the fall decorations and decorate for the Smoky Mountain Christmas festival.

What other festivals does Dollywood have?

If you want to see everything that Dollywood has to offer, I’d recommend getting a Dollywood Season Pass, because if you go to the park about three times you’ll have paid for your pass and it’s totally worth it for unlimited visits. During the spring there is the Dollywood Flower and Food Festival, for summer there is the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration with a drone and light show, then the Harvest Festival, and finally the Smoky Mountain Christmas.


the author's son in a fake wooden coffin display

I hope you’ll head to the annual Dollywood Harvest Festival this year, whether its your first time at the park or if you went as recently as last year. If you’re planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to view the foliage, definitely stop by Dollywood to check out this festival on your next visit. It’s really a beautiful time to visit the Smokies, see some talented artists and enjoy how the warm orange glow shines in the night at the Great Pumpkin Luminights.

I hope you enjoyed this article and all the pictures we’ve taken over the years on our trips to Dollywood in October!

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