Halloween at Dollywood, 5 Tips and Things To Avoid (2023)

wildwood grove sign decorated for halloween at dollywood in pigeon forge

Decorations will be found throughout the Dollywood theme park this fall season (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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Dollywood’s fall festival celebration is one of Pigeon Forge’s most popular seasonal events.

The theme park attracts tens of thousands of folks from all over the country during this time of year who come to see the beautiful colors of fall in the mountains.

In fact, the event has once again been nominated for the USA Today 10Best Award for Best Theme Park Halloween event. You can vote online for the event here.


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Does Dollywood celebrate Halloween?

Yes and no. The Dollywood park features a Harvest Festival that will run from September 20 through October 30, 2023. The theme park is closed on Halloween day.

Each year, the event features many fun things to explore, including special seasonal treats, live entertainment and larger-than-life seasonal displays and pumpkin sculptures.

By day, the Dollywood Harvest Festival features culinary treats, live entertainment and concerts.

By night, the family-friendly Great Pumpkin LumiNights illuminates the park with great decorations that will glow with thousands of jack-o-lanterns.

It’s a beautiful time of year to visit the annual guest-favorite event, which is presented by Humana and Covenant Health.

This season’s event promises even more spectacular sights, fan-favorite displays, beautiful masterpieces and a centerpiece focal point – the tall pumpkin tree.

Additionally, artisans from around the world traditionally make an appearance with their handmade crafts, pottery, inspirational jewelry and fiddle-making.

Remember, Dollywood observes a limited schedule throughout the event. The park will close on select days (mostly on Tuesdays). Be sure to check the dates on the Dollywood calendar.

But if you really want to enjoy the Dollywood Harvest Festival like a pro, there are a few things you should know to avoid while planning your trip to the theme park.

Sunflower display of pumpkins at Dollywood in the fall
These glowing pumpkins are expected to “bloom” again in 2023 (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

1. Don’t make spontaneous plans to visit

The Harvest Festival is one of the park’s busiest seasonal events.

And every year, like clockwork, there are always a handful of would-be guests who miss out because they didn’t plan ahead.

You see, Dollywood operates on a reduced schedule throughout the fall season and closes on select days.

From experience, I know all too well the disappointment of showing up at the park for a last-minute Dollywood day, only to realize it was closed.

As you can imagine, 10-year-old me wasn’t a happy camper. Today, adult me always checks the calendar ahead of time using the park’s operating calendar on Dollywood’s website.

Purchase tickets ahead of time whenever possible.

Also, try to visit during off-peak times as much as possible. It’s not that unusual for the park to reach capacity during this busy festival.

Read Also: Things To Do in Pigeon Forge: 38 Best Attractions (2023)

a spider made of pumpkins at dollywood
There are thousands of real pumpkins on display at Dollywood (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

2. Don’t wear Halloween masks inside the park

Can you wear a Halloween costume at Dollywood? The short answer is, yes you can, as long as you play by the rules.

Guests are asked to abide by the following dress code guidelines.

For basic requirements, guests should wear shoes, sandals or flip flops at all times. Guests should also be fully clothed and avoid showing “excessive portions” of the skin.

For costume-specific guidelines, Dollywood has the following rules:

  • Avoid garments or items that display objectionable material in a family environment
  • Avoid excessively torn clothing
  • Cover objectionable graphics and/or messages
  • Avoid facepaint and costumes that completely cover your entire face or alter your identity

3. Don’t dress as Dolly or Santa

While we can no longer find this restriction on the Dollywood website, we advise against dressing as Dolly Parton or Santa while at the park.

It’s a similar concept that Disney has against dressing as characters.

As you might imagine, dressing as one of those two characters at Dollywood might be confusing for other guests and children and is generally discouraged.

Sparkling Berry Cider at Dollywood
This Sparkling Berry Cider is suitable for all ages (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

4. Don’t bring alcohol

Dollywood does not serve or sell alcohol. The beloved theme park is and always has been dry, and will remain dry throughout the Harvest Festival event.

After all, Dollywood is a family-friendly theme park.

Alternatively, enjoy some of the tasty treats that Dollywood offers during the event.

You can find delicious theme park snacks and comfort food like turkey legs and cinnamon bread.

And each fall, Dollywood chefs bring out new recipes featuring pumpkin, apple, cinnamon and more. Don’t miss out on some of the special fall treats.

Read Also: Dollywood Cinnamon Bread: We Tested Two Recipes, This Is the Best One

Mystery Mine coaster at Dollywood during the fall festival
Mystery Mine coaster at Dollywood during the fall festival (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

5. Don’t call it Halloween

Finally, don’t call it “Halloween”.

Dollywood’s Halloween-themed event goes by “Harvest Festival” and the “Great Pumpkin LumiNights”.

Dollywood takes pride in creating a family-friendly, not-so-spooky event that’s fun for all ages. That’s one of the reasons why you’ll almost never see the word “Halloween” in relation to this event.

While you will see loads of pumpkins, including a pumpkin spider and other whimsical scenes and artistic sculptures, there are no ghosts, no haunted houses and no scares.

In fact, Dollywood isn’t even open on Halloween day. And honestly, with so many other scary options out there this time of year, we’ve grown to really appreciate that Dollywood goes against the grain and remains true to its brand with a peaceful alternative non-frightening option.

Have you ever visited Dollywood during their Harvest Festival or LumiNights event? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

For more information and a park operating calendar, visit www.dollywood.com.

Do you plan on being in the Smokies this Halloween to enjoy the crisp Smoky Mountain air? Let us know in the comments below.


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Morgan Overholt

Morgan is the founder Morgan Media LLC, a graphic design agency and the co-founder of TheSmokies.com LLC – a media company that specializes in regional travel sites.

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