Dollywood regularly earns amusement industry accolades for both its natural beauty – it’s built right into the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee – and its incredible culinary creations, which go well beyond standard park fare. Each spring since 2020, the theme park has taken springtime experiences to an incredible new level by serving up both a breathtaking display of Mother Nature’s finest handiwork and some of the most impressive menu items during its Flower & Food Festival. From April 21 through June 11, elaborate floral installations will emerge around every corner, with more than a million blooms coming together to create an unbelievable presentation of color and wonder.
Mosaicultures International, a Montreal-based company that specializes in crafting living sculptures from thousands of plants, has been busy tending to a full lineup of iconic floral symbols that will be on display at Dollywood during the next several weeks. Plants and flowers have been transformed into an array of woodland creatures one might find during a hike in the Smokies, including playful bears, meandering turtles, chatty mallard ducks and rascally raccoons. But perhaps the most popular sculpture of all depicts a person who once called these mountains “home”: Dolly Parton’s mother, Avie Lee, stitching the famed Coat of Many Colors.
Another popular “human” figure made from plants is the beekeeper sculpture located in the park’s Craftsman’s Valley section. New this year, a real keeper will display beehives, showcase beekeeping techniques and educate park guests about the importance of nature’s noble pollinator, the honey bee.
And that talk of honey is the perfect tie-in to the culinary side of this annual festival. The Flower & Food Festival menu was inspired by fresh spring flavors, then given some Smoky Mountain flair. This year’s menu includes a Cuban sandwich with mojo sauce, street tacos, pretzel crab melt, grilled shrimp mac & cheese, beef bulgogi nachos, street corn salad, quinoa salad, berry and honey funnel cakes, and hand-decorated cookies and cupcakes with a flower theme.
For those who can’t choose among all the delicacies, Dollywood offers a “tasting pass” that lets guests partake in a variety of food items. The pass, which can be purchased in the park or online, costs $36.99 plus tax and allows guests to sample five food offerings at special locations.
The fun – and food – doesn’t stop at the park. Plenty of festival elements carry over to Dollywood’s DreramMore Resort and Spa, where guests are greeted by colorful décor and stunning floral accents. Complimentary beverages like lavender lemonade and rosemary blueberry smash will be served in the main lobby from 4 to 6 p.m. each day, and a variety of seasonal cocktails and mocktails will be available for purchase in The Lounge. Camp DW, which offers daily activities for kids, will get into the spirit by helping young guests create flowerpots, garden gnomes and birdhouses. At the spa, guests can indulge in a Dreamy Sunflower Facial, Magic Melon Manicure or other seasonal treatments.
Each resort guest gets priority access to Dollywood; a complimentary TimeSaver pass, which can be used to access select rides and daily show reservations; complimentary trolley transportation to the park; complimentary package delivery, so all those purchases made from the park’s crafters and other shops don’t need to be lugged around all day; and early admission on Saturday mornings.
And as if all this wasn’t exciting enough, in May – right in the midst of the Flower & Food Festival – Dollywood will debut Big Bear Mountain, the longest roller coaster in the park’s history. The ride pays homage to the Smokies’ favorite critter, the ubiquitous black bear, and serves as another reminder of the natural wonders of the region.
Learn more about Dollywood here.