Dollywood is back open for the season and everything is right with the world. Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dollywood hosts a variety of annual events throughout the year that celebrate the beauty and culture of the Smokies. But the Dreamer in Chief has some tricks up her sleeve in 2023. If you’re looking for an excuse to go to Dollywood, we’ve got some pretty good ones! Check out these can’t-miss Dollywood events.
1. I Will Always Love You Celebration
March 11–April 8, 2023
Kicking off the season strong, Dollywood celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Queen of Country’s best-selling single. Dolly got her big break on The Porter Wagoner Show, but she penned “I Will Always Love You” to let Wagoner know that after 7 years, it was time for her to move on. Starting in March, the I Will Always Love You Celebration music series showcases singer/songwriters and the stories behind the songs.
Headliners such as Ashley McBryde take the stage at Dolly Parton’s Celebrity Theater while up-and-coming singers/songwriters perform in the Songwriters’ Showcase at Showstreet Palace Theater. The park is also decked out for the occasion. Fans of the song that was popularized by Whitney Houston on The Bodyguard soundtrack can find merchandise that is available for a limited time as well. Read more about the festivities and all of the events involved in our article, Celebrate A Dolly Parton Milestone With Musical Surprises At Dollywood.
2. Flower & Food Festival
April 21–June 11, 2023
Spring’s in full swing when Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival hits the park. For the flower portion of the festival, monumental mosaicultures, like the one seen above, grace the streets of this already beautiful theme park. In fact, more than half a million blooms are found throughout the grounds during this floral festival. Other beautiful bloom-based sculptures include animal scenes and Dolly’s mother sewing her Coat of Many Colors.
The colorful Umbrella Sky suspended above Showstreet serves as an Instagram-worthy backdrop for showcasing your favorite foods, from internationally-inspired dishes to Southern fare. Anyone who has sampled Grist Mill’s cinnamon bread knows that Dollywood takes food as seriously as any Southerner, so this food fest is a must! Meanwhile, live music and street performers fill the stages and streets.
3. Big Bear Mountain Debut
Named after the black bears that roam the Smokies, Big Bear Mountain is Dollywood’s latest and greatest ride. Debuting in May, the roller coaster will be the park’s longest at 3,990 feet. The 20-passenger train goes up to 48 miles per hour. The ride lasts about 100 seconds and takes guests 66 feet in the air at its highest elevation, giving riders a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding Smoky Mountains.
With a price tag of $25 million, the coaster marks the biggest investment that the company has ever made in a single attraction — so it ought to be better than your average bear. The ride will join Wildwood Grove’s 11 other attractions. Another new addition is Adventure Outpost Base Camp. Here, guests can hop in an SUV on a guided search for Big Bear, the Grove’s most elusive and storied inhabitant.
4. Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration
June 17–August 6, 2023
Another one of Dollywood’s famous annual events, the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration returns this year, bringing extended operating hours so guests can ride rollers like Wild Eagle and Lightning Rod after the sun goes down. The big draw, though, is Dollywood’s drone and fireworks show, an industry first upon its debut in 2021. Sweet Summer Nights features hundreds of lit-up drones dancing throughout the sky synced to music in a futuristic type of fireworks show.
The popular Gazillion Bubble Show, which is basically a bunch of bubbles as the name divulges, also makes a return this summer. Other highlights include new park decor, such as the Kite Sky. Splash-and-play elements let little guests cool off from the Tennessee summer sun. Wilderness Pass hosts a bubble foam party, while Wildwood Grove presents a brand-new interactive art installation that invites guests to spin on life-size tops.
5. Harvest Festival
September 20–October 30, 2023
The Smoky Mountains are simply stunning this time of year, and Dollywood’s Harvest Festival, featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights, gives guests even more of a reason to visit in the fall. Elaborate pumpkin displays, including thousands of carved pumpkins, populate the park. Live music performances by talented artists as well as arts and crafts round out the fall festivities.
6. Opening Of HeartSong Lodge & Resort
HeartSong Lodge & Resort, Dollywood’s much anticipated second resort, is expected to open in time for Dollywood’s ever-popular Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration. Can’t book a room at the resort? Check out these 12 Incredible Pigeon Forge Cabins For Your Smoky Mountain Getaway.
7. Smoky Mountain Christmas
November 4, 2023–January 6, 2024
Get in the holiday spirit at Dollywood’s award-winning Smoky Mountain Christmas. This special time of year in the Smokies was made into a Hallmark Christmas movie, Christmas at Dollywood. The annual event features 6 million lights, festive holiday-themed shows, special foods, and merchandise. Dollywood’s train offers a wonderful way to see the holiday lights.
Find out if you made the nice list at Santa’s Village, where you can catch the big guy at work. Dozens of spectacular Christmas trees decorate the park as classic Christmas tunes fill the air. Guest-favorite holiday shows include Christmas in the Smokies and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Catch an outdoor performance of “O Holy Night” or “Appalachian Christmas.”
Heading to Dollywood to celebrate the season? Check out these 6 Fabulous Things To Experience In The Smoky Mountains During The Holidays.
Coming In 2024: The Dolly Parton Experience
Next year, Dollywood’s Chasing Rainbows museum gets a major facelift as it becomes a new interactive experience. The Dolly Parton Experience will showcase Dolly’s family keepsakes, mementos, awards, wardrobes, and more in a whole new way. Keep an eye out for this awesome new attraction in 2024!