Dollywood’s Harvest Festival officially kicked off on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, bringing back a fan-favorite event with several fresh changes that echo warm traditions.
Dollywood’s Harvest Festival was named Best Fall Theme Park Event last year in USA Today. The event features special treats, live entertainment and larger-than-life seasonal displays throughout the theme park.
Great Pumpkin LumiNights also made its grand return this year with a brand new expansion into the park’s newest section, Wildwood Grove.
“We know folks are ready to get out and enjoy the colors of fall and the fresh, crisp Smoky Mountain air,” Dolly Parton said in a statement. “This year has been challenging for everyone, but we hope the comfort they feel from coming and visiting us gives them that warm, familiar feeling they’ve shared with their friends and loved ones for so many years here at Dollywood.”
“We have a few surprises planned this year, and I think everyone will agree this is that special escape ‘back home’ we all need right now.”
What’s new this year at Dollywood’s Harvest Festival?
“We are so excited to be opening Dollywood’s Harvest Festival,” said Amber Davis, publicist for Dollywood. “It’s been a fan favorite for years, and this year we have new elements. It’s just a good time for our guests to get out and enjoy the outdoors and see all that Dollywood has to offer.”
One of the biggest (literally) new additions are the colossal pumpkins, which range from 300-1500 pounds. The massive pumpkins were shipped in from a variety of expert, competitive pumpkin growers across the East Coast eager to share their prize pumpkins with Dollywood park patrons.
“This is a new element for us,” said Davis. “We’ve had big pumpkins in the past, but this year, they are colossal. We have a baby colossal, and it weighs about 300 pounds, then we’ve got a pumpkin that weighs more than 1500 pounds, so we’re very excited for our guests to come see these. It’s an idea that’s been growing for a long time.”
Davis says when Dollywood set their sights on finding colossal pumpkins to display, they sought out farmers who grow them competitively.
According to Davis the contest happens in Kentucky, where the farmers weigh the pumpkins and declare a winner. Dollywood proudly ended up with one of the winning pumpkins, and it is now on display at Dollywood.
There are about eleven colossal pumpkins on display for this year’s festival.
“You’ll find them in Market Square, and they’re from different farms around the country,” said Davis. “That’s kind of a neat thing for us to show off. It’s got the farmer’s name, where they are in the country and their weight, too.”
One of the most notable new displays this year at Wildwood Grove is the “sunflower field” pumpkin patch. The sunflower display features dozens of hand-carved stacked pumpkins that are cut sequentially to look like beautiful stalks of sunflowers that stack as high as 9 1/2 ft. tall.
“It’s gorgeous,” said Davis. “The stalks glow green at night, and the flower itself has that warm, yellow glow, so it’s really something to see.”
The display at the Wildwood Grove entrance is also new, and Davis says it’s the perfect spot for a photo op with the family.
Seasonal fall treats at Dollywood’s Harvest Festival
Culinary creations at Dollywood abound, thanks to the bountiful supply of crops from a Smoky Mountain harvest. The smells of smoked beef brisket, turkey legs and sausage pair nicely with the fresh tastes of fried green tomatoes, fish and chips, fire-roasted corn and sweet potato casserole.
“Fall is that time of year when the air becomes crisp and you want to cuddle up with a blanket, even if it’s not so cold yet,” said Davis. “So we’ve definitely got some warm things on the menu that you’re going to love.”
Davis recommends that guests try the center cut pork chop with jalapeño bacon jam at the Front Porch Cafe. It’s a mild, sweet, homemade sauce that is sure to make your mouth water.
For sweet treats, the ever-popular pumpkin spice is in full supply with items ranging from pumpkin spice milkshakes to cinnamon rolls. Dollywood will also have pumpkin praline funnel cake, hot wassail and harvest kettle corn for guests to enjoy while admiring the beauty of Dollywood in the fall.
Dollywood’s famous cinnamon bread is also getting a new twist during the Harvest Festival. Guests will be able to enjoy Dollywood’s cinnamon bread with either apple pie filling or pumpkin spice on top.
“There’s a lot of good food for you to check out during the fall,” said Davis.
Will there still be live shows and entertainment?
Music plays an integral part of this festival, with the largest number of performances during any event ever at Dollywood!
This year’s Harvest Festival also features more than 800 live Southern gospel and bluegrass concerts, including performers such as Amanda Cook, Tim Lovelace, The Erwins, 3 Heath Brothers, The Porter Family, The Tenos and many more.
Additional artists can be found roaming the park this fall, literally taking the music to the streets.
Check the daily Dollywood’s entertainment schedule for specific performance dates and hours. Dates and times are subject to change.
Dollywood’s Harvest Festival is presented by Humana, and Great Pumpkin LumiNights is presented by Covenant Health. Dollywood is open 10 am – 9 pm each day of operation (Sept. 25- Oct. 31, 2020) during the Harvest Festival. The park is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the festival. For more information and a park operating calendar, please visit www.dollywood.com or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.