Dollywood: Harvest Festival & Smoky Mountain Christmas

Dollywood Harvest FestivalCrisp, fall air. Changing leaves. Apple cider. Fall road trips.

These are a few of my favorite things! These all signify the changing of the seasons for our family – we have made it through the heat and humidity of summer and are officially giddy over the new season as it approaches.

Fall in the Smoky Mountains

Our favorite place to enjoy the oncoming seasons, whether fall or winter, is the Great Smoky Mountains. I grew up vacationing in the area, so naturally, this tradition is being passed down to my kids. Each year when September approaches, they ask when are we going to Hollywood?? Each year I correct them that it’s actually DOLLYWOOD, and they immediately start counting down the days until our trip. Side note: They’ve actually been to both Hollywood and Dollywood, and prefer Dollywood – ha!

If your family is getting giddy about the changing seasons like us, consider starting a family tradition of road-tripping it to the Great Smoky Mountains (and Dollywood)!

Check out these amazing upcoming seasonal festivals at Dollywood:

Harvest Festival

September 20 – October 30
If the beautiful hues of red, orange, and yellow-painted across the mountains aren’t enough to convince you a road trip to the Smokies is necessary for September and October, check out the awesome lineup of fall activities.

  • Pumpkins are everywhere! During the day, you will find the park decorated with an array of beautiful pumpkins, but at night… they really pop! Thousands of carved pumpkins light up the night, inviting you to explore a world of not-so-spooky nighttime fun. Stroll through a forest of shimmering sunflowers, see a family of glowing frogs, and snap a memorable family photo in front of our towering Pumpkin Tree. A treat for all ages, Great Pumpkin LumiNights is the highlight of the Harvest season. Be sure to check out the colossal pumpkins weighing from 800 to over 1500 lbs!
  • The fall food is on point! At Dollywood, you will never be limited to traditional theme park food. Come ready to enjoy all the fall flavors – roasted sweet potato and pumpkin corn chowder, smoke brat with potato hash and red cabbage jam, and balsamic honey mustard glazed pork chop.
  • The music that fills the fall air! In my opinion, the music and shows are what sets Dollywood apart from other theme parks. The thrill rides are awesome (6 roller coasters!), but sometimes you need a breather. Or maybe you need a break from chasing toddlers through the park!  Kids of all ages (2-99) will love the amazing performances scheduled each day.

Smoky Mountain Christmas

November 4 – January 6
There is nothing that will get you in the holiday spirit more than a trip to Dollywood during November and December! Check out why it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

  • The beautiful lights! At night, Dollywood shines bright with over 5 million lights, each area of the park decorated in a unique color and style. We love watching the huge light-up Christmas tree (timed to festive music) and then walking through the icy, magical lights in Glacier Ridge.
  • Santa! A little elf told me that Santa needed a break from the chaos of the North Pole, so Dolly set him up in a sweet little cabin right in the middle of Dollywood for the season. Santa is able to work in his cabin, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains… and your kids get to see him make his list and check it twice! My kids LOVED seeing Santa at Dollywood last year. While we were waiting our turn to see the big guy, they had fun interacting with the elves and asking them questions about their life at the North Pole. When it was their turn to see Santa, they found that their name was actually on the good list this year (and my son was worried… ).
  • “Merry & Bright” fireworks display! This is the perfect, festive way to end a day at Dollywood. There are several spots throughout the part with great views, but we loved watching them at the DreamMore Resort last year. We were tired from a day at the park, so we shuttled back to the resort, grabbed a cocktail from the bar, and watched the fireworks display while enjoying the outdoor firepits.
  • Again, the music and shows! Our family’s favorite is “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “Christmas in the Smokies” – we see them every year. When our kids were babies and toddlers, the shows were a great time for them to rest (and sometimes they would even nap! Think darker room with music playing in the background.). Now that they are “big kids”, they love to laugh and sing along with the shows.

If your “back to school” schedule has made your family a little antsy and you are looking for a road trip to mix things up a bit, be sure to book your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood now. 

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Jessica is an adventure-loving, over-committing, and previously organized mother of 2! She and her husband (high school sweethearts) moved to Atlanta in 2006 after graduating college, ready to start their life in the “real world”. They have experienced so many wonderful life milestones while in Atlanta – lived in Buckhead pre-kids, bought a house in great Smyrna neighborhood, had their first child in 2011 (a spunky little girl, Vivian), welcomed their second child exactly 18 months later in 2012 (a creative and crazy little boy, Harrison), and most recently added a Golden Doodle named Winston into the mix. Jessica and her family have since moved to the burbs of Milton where you now find them past 2 horse farms on the right. Jessica has always loved being part of a community, so when the opportunity to join the Atlanta Mom executive team presented itself it was a no brainer! She loved it so much, in fact, that in 2021 she and Natalie joined forces to lead the team and continue connecting with awesome moms across the ATL!