One of my favorite aspects of visiting Dollywood is watching the park transform throughout the seasons. As someone who grew up in California and currently lives in Florida (with two seasons: somewhat hot and very hot), it’s a special experience to see how different the park looks each time I visit.
Dollywood enhances the already stunning natural greenery and blossoming flowers around the park with a special Flower & Food Festival. This spectacular festival runs from April 23- June 7 and features stunning floral displays, delicious food, and top notch entertainment.
Upon entering the park you’re immediately greeted with the colorful signage which continues to brighten your day around the park. Just around the corner, the iconic butterfly floral at the park entrance has been refreshed for the Flower & Food Festival.
The first festive display is the colorful “Umbrella Sky” , a collection of hundreds of beautiful parasols that create a giant canopy over Showstreet. The umbrellas not only are captivating, but also help provide cover for the occasional spring shower or the hot rays of the sun. Midway, you’ll find a photo opportunity with parasols to borrow to take a unique picture with a Dollywood photographer.
Throughout the park you’ll encounter impressive sculptures from a partnership with the internationally-acclaimed Mosaicultures flower sculpting team. The displays are different from a typical topiary that consists of a single plant trimmed or trained into a shape. These sculptures can feature thousands of different plants covering a framework.They remind me a lot of my childhood days watching the Rose Parade, in awe of the landscape designers ability to create colors and textures out of plants. These displays have an even greater challenge as they don’t last for a single day, but have to extend throughout a several month festival. Occasionally, you’ll catch horticulturists making adjustments and sprucing up these living pieces of art.
Certainly not a surprise to see butterflies as part of the display. Dollywood specifically asked for animal sculptures based around the natural fauna of the Smoky Mountain region.
At the center of the park near the Celebrity Theater, guests will encounter the “Coat of Many Colors” mosaiculture sculpture. This piece pays tribute to Dolly Parton’s mother, showcasing her sewing the iconic Coat of Many Colors that played a pivotal role in her life. The childhood story would end up inspiring the hit song “Coat of Many Colors” and the film of the same name. Every few minutes, you’ll hear a recording of Dolly Parton herself recalling the story of her mom stitching together a coat from the rags she had available, and the important lesson Dolly learned about finding value from within. The sculpture is a tour de force of horticulture art and really shows off the talent of the Mosaiculture team.
In Rivertown Junction, you’ll find many mosaiculture displays featuring some of the famous residents of the Smoky Mountains. From playful racoons, curious turtles, a family of bears, and a frog, it’s impressive to see the creative choices of vegetation used to bring these sculptures to life.
Meanwhile, in the Adventures in Imagination area, Guests can check out a chalk artist, one of the new offerings for the 2021 Flower & Food Festival.
You’ll also find another Flower & Food Festival photo opportunity.
New this year, Guests may purchase a lanyard which grants them five culinary creations for $29.99, or $27.99 for a Season Passholder. Food carts throughout Showstreet and Rivertown Junction offer a variety of culinary delights.
A personal touch that I appreciated was the many quotes from Dolly Parton herself. These little pearls give a personal touch to the festival and make it distinctly Dollywood.
Beyond the highlight displays of the festival, the park as a whole is in full bloom. The dogwood trees lit up the sky in spectacular whites, and the many planters around the park are densely packed with vivid flowers.
The Southern Pantry store on Showstreet features a special pop up festival store. If you’re inspired by all the plantlife, you can find miniature displays of your own that you can take home and begin your own garden. You’ll also have a selection of Dollywood Flower & Food Festival merchandise to commemorate your special day.
Dollywood is already famous for it’s great shows and they just recently launched the high-energy show, “A Brighter Day” with a quartet singing inspirational, country and pop. So it’s no surprise that this year’s festival would include a huge lineup of entertainment. The Spring Concert series brings a wide variety of 25 musical acts to the park including “The New Respects,” “Jeff and Sheri Easter,” “Big Daddy Weave,” “I Am They,” “Sidewalk Prophets,” “Tasha Layton,” “Matthew West,” “The Harlem Gospel Travelers,” “Rebecca St. James,” and the “Triumphant Quartet” to name a few. The acts are spread throughout the festival, with the most famous names appearing on the weekends. Dollywood’s multiple theaters and broad spectrum of shows allows for someone to be able to fully enjoy a day in the park watching entertainment and not step on a single ride.
Between the exciting rides, stunning floral displays, delicious foods, and wide variety of shows, it’s hard to find a better place to be this Spring than at Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival.