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The Great Smoky Mountains will soon be aglow with Dollywood’s Harvest Festival – a more than month-long celebration of all things fall that starts September 25th and runs through October 31. This festival was recently named the Best Theme Park Halloween Event in the country by USA TODAY’S 10Best Reader’s Choice travel awards.

Carved pumpkins of every size and shape come alive with lights at night all over Dollywood during The Great Pumpkin Lumilights. As the largest ever addition to the festival, Great Pumpkin Lumilights adds their mystery and excitement to the nights at Dollywood’s newest expansion at Wildwood Grove. Also featured in Lumilights are “artistic sculptures and whimsical scenes.”

In Wildwood Grove, the luminated pumpkins join the Wildwood Tree, which lights up at night with colorful butterflies. The Wildwood Tree itself comes alive at night with a Harvest story for visitors. During Harvest Festival, the park stays open until 9 p.m. so visitors can have hours of glowing fun.

Behind the Scenes

If you want to go behind-the-scenes of Great Pumpkin LumiNights, you can!  Dollywood offers
Behind The Glow Guided Tour, where visitors can get a VIP viewing of the Wildwood Grove Tree experience, special LumiNights treats and refreshments and a Great Pumpkin LumiNights activity card. Participants get a special neon lanyard and do a dip-your-own-pumpkin-candle activity. Passes are $79 or $74 if you have a Dollywood Gold Pass.

Speaking of treats – what would a festival be without food? Great Pumpkin LumiNights also features new “pumpkin-themed food options, entertainment and a “nightly finale.”

Pumpkin Spice

When we’re talking fall and pumpkin-themed food, pumpkin spice is a must. Everything from those black and orange sandwich cookies to little o’s cereals and of course your favorite latte or frozen beverage comes in pumpkin spice this time of year. So does moonshine at ole Smoky Moonshine!

Did you know pumpkin spice has nothing to do with pumpkins?

There’s no pumpkin in a pumpkin-spiced latte or anything else pumpkin spiced. Pumpkin spice is actually the spice mix used for pumpkin pies. It is made from 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves. Try it at home and see what concoctions you can come up with. Pumpkin-spiced peanut butter anyone?

Fun For Kids

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival has fun activities for kids.  Do a Meet & Greet with original characters including Harvey the Pumpkin, Patches the Scarecrow, and some of their friends!  Meet & Greet takes places between 4 and 9 p.m. nightly.

During the day, make sure to get a fun design done by one of Dollywood’s Kaman artists.  Then, when darkness falls, prepare to have your face light up the night since the paint glows in the dark!

Autumn or Fall?

Whether you call it fall or autumn is entirely up to you (I call it fall because I’m from the South and I have a niece named Autumn), historically, Fall was called “harvest” because of the “harvest moon” – a full moon that occurs close to the autumn equinox – that’s when the sun is exactly above the equator and day and night are the same length. This year, that was Sept. 23, and this season’s harvest moon was early – on Sept. 13 and 14 for our Northern Hemisphere.

Here are some more fall fun facts.

Harvest Festival also is alive and exciting during the day with so much to do all day at Dollywood.

There are more than 500 free concerts throughout Dollywood.

Live Music

Each and every year, Dollywood offers wonderful live music during Harvest Festival.  Although 2020 has brought many changes to indoor events, this year’s musical offerings will still be taking place!  Southern Gospel, family, and bluegrass music will all be featured this season.  Dollywood’s Back Porch Theater will be offering a different featured singer every night of the week.

One of this year’s featured performers is The Gina Furtado Project. Gina is a twice-nominated International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the year and has been touring the east coast since her tween years.  She also boasts two #1 songs on the Bluegrass Today charts.  The Gina Furtado Project recently released a new single, Alley Cat.

In 2020 see southern Gospel on the steps of the Robert F. Thomas Chapel; Praise 96.3 FM brings even more beautiful harmonies of gospel music with Eternal Vision, PromisedLand Quartet, Sacred Harmony, and so many more.  There’s a new performer every night of the festival!


Eternal Vision – first and foremost a ministry, the group expresses that ministry trough gospel music; Foothills Quartet – formed in 1993, the group has 4 singers and a full band with them; Michael Wayne Smith – a Christian singer/songwriter from Oak Ridge, TN.

A favorite old southern gospel song is “Gather at the River” – sing along with Dolly Parton herself.

Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?

Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.

On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will talk and worship ever,
All the happy golden day.

Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we every burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.

At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Savior’s face,
Saints, whom death will never sever,
Lift their songs of saving grace.

Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.

Even rock and roll legend Elvis Presley sang gospel from time to time. “By and By” is a classic.

Well children by and by when the morning comes
All the saints of God together they come
We will tell the story how the Lord will come
And we’ll understand him better by and by
Trials dark on every hand and we cannot understand
All the ways God will lead us
To the blessed promised land
He will guide us with his eye
And we’ll follow till we die
And we’ll understand him better by and by
Well children by and by when the morning comes
All the saints of God together they come
We will tell the story how the Lord will come
And we’ll understand him better by and by
Temptation’s hidden snares often take the sun away
And our hearts are made to bleed
For some thoughtless word or deed
And we wonder why the test when we try to do our best
But we’ll understand it better by and by
Well children by and by when the morning comes
All the saints of God together they come
We will tell the story how the Lord will come
And we’ll understand him better by and by
And we’ll understand him better by and by


There’s more during Harvest Fest too. Dollywood began with music and artisans – those traditions continue today.

Unique artisans from around the country visit Dollywood during Harvest Festival to share handmade crafts. In addition to “Dollywood’s own skilled craftsmen, many talented artists set up shop to demonstrate a number of traditional crafts.”

From inspirational jewelry, paintings, handmade historic games, textile art, woodworking, felt hats, dolls and textiles, pottery, glass jewelry, chainsaw carvings, fiddles, and hand-painted ornaments, visiting crafters are located in booths throughout the park.

Spectacular Autumn Views!

Don’t forget the views from the Great Smoky Mountains and the changing leaves – an attraction all itself. Something you can view from a cabin in the mountains before you head to Dollywood for the day.  Want to know when will the leaves change in Gatlinburg?  Check out our blog post to find out!

Let American Patriot Getaways and Dollywood be your destination for fall foliage in 2019. Find a cabin in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg with an incredible mountain view. Check out our Pinterest board on Cabins near Dollywood.

With cabins for every group size and budget, you’re sure to find the perfect home away from home this autumn.  Book online or give our friendly Reservation Department staff a call at 800-204-5169 today.

Be sure to check out all of our vacation guides for planning your Smoky Mountain getaway.  You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest area information!

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