PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — The glow grows during the return of Great Pumpkin LumiNights at Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana. An overwhelming guest-favorite last season, Great Pumpkin LumiNights returns with several new immersive displays, exciting activities and an expanded footprint more than twice the size of 2017’s version. Additionally, the Harvest Festival itself grows with six additional operating days for families to enjoy.
Dollywood opens every day Sept. 28- Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. giving guests more time to enjoy the festive fall fun of harvest time in the Smokies. After the glowing reviews of last year’s Great Pumpkin LumiNights, Dollywood officials knew the event was ripe for growth. Last year’s popular pumpkin displays—like the pumpkin spider and the pumpkin dance party—are joined in 2018 by a number of elaborate, new additions, including a couple of Dolly Parton-inspired displays.
The Plaza at Wilderness Pass serves as a centerpiece for the event with an area for character interaction, additional displays—and the focal point—a 40 ft. tall pumpkin tree. With the addition of Great Pumpkin LumiNights to the Harvest Festival in 2017, a number of families created new traditions and memories they’ll share forever, something Parton expected to happen once she first saw the renderings for the initial event.
“We knew families were going to love all those glowing pumpkins last year,” she explained, “but with the way they responded, we found they were looking for a different and fun, family-friendly way to spend time together during this special time of year; Great Pumpkin LumiNights was certainly it. That’s why we’re givin’ them even more to love during this year’s festival. During the day, they can see all those beautiful colors God has painted across the mountains, and at night, they can experience the fun of a Smoky Mountain harvest.”
Families will bask in the glow of thousands of intricately-carved pumpkins as they wander through displays throughout Dollywood’s Timber Canyon, Wilderness Pass and upper Craftsman’s Valley areas. Beyond the impressive displays, guests can find a number of exciting activities to create thrilling memories together. With so many carved pumpkins needed to create Great Pumpkin LumiNights, Dollywood has “pumpkin artists” who will host demonstrations to help guests learn how to produce the perfect pumpkin masterpiece.
Alongside Great Pumpkin LumiNights, the biggest names in Southern gospel music visit the park for the Southern Gospel Jubilee. Thanks to the additional operating days, more than 625 individual Southern gospel performances take place on stages throughout the park throughout the run of the festival—making it the biggest Southern gospel event in America. It’s very fitting for the music icon who got her start singing in church with her family.
“You really can say my career started back in those days when we’d visit all those small country churches just singin’ about God,” Parton said. “That music is close to my heart, so I’m truly proud we’re able to offer our guests so many opportunities to hear this great music during the Harvest Festival at Dollywood.”
Dollywood celebrates Smoky Mountain crafts all year with the park’s well-known master craftsmen. During the Harvest Festival, however, more than 30 visiting artisans from across the country bring their wares and share their talents with Dollywood guests. Craft demonstrations include textile art, inspirational jewelry, loom weaving, paper marbling, bentwood boxes, rug hooking, fiddle making, dulcimer making, and much more.