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Spring has sprung in Dollywood. For yet another year, Dolly Parton's namesake theme park is hosting the Flower & Food Festival (is there a better combo?!). With more than half-a-million blooming flowers and unparalleled dining experiences (think: Korean-Style Beef Bulgogi Nachos and Fresh Berry and Lavender Funnel Cake), the festival, located in the Smoky Mountain area of Tennessee, is an event not to be missed.
"The Smokies really were the inspiration for this festival," Parton says in a press release. "When I was a little girl, I loved springtime because everything seemed so bright with color," she explains. "It started to get warm outside and you just felt like you could finally get out of the house after being cooped up in there for so long, which is something I know we’re all feeling right now. But the thing I remember most about those spring days were the flowers that would start blooming all over the hills."
As guests enter the park, they'll be greeted by a colorful display of suspended umbrellas, dubbed the "Umbrella Sky." (You know, just in case of those April showers.) As guests venture further into the park, they'll find "larger-than-life" plant sculptures, created in partnership with Montreal company Mosaicultures International, which specializes in these one-of-a-kind creations. The displays include friendly animals, a whimsical umbrella, and the centerpiece of the festival, the "Coat of Many Colors" display, which is a nod to Parton's own mother who is represented sewing the coat. "I just love we made that big, beautiful display of my mama with all those wonderful flowers. It’s special to me, and I know she would have been so proud of it," says Parton. The festival also features a majestic floral carpet bed created with more than 37,000 flowers and which forms the image of a Smoky Mountain sunrise.
The food offered at the festival is equally as beautiful. For the first time this year, the park is offering a new dining pass, which allows guests to sample five different meals from any of the festivals culinary locations (the pass is $29.99 and $27.99 for season pass holders). And this isn't your average theme park fare—each menu item is more elaborate than the next. Guests will find items like a Cuban sandwich served with plantain chips, lobster rolls, mountain paella, a lemon curd and blueberry liege waffle, and so much more. Like the rest of the festival, menu offerings were directly inspired by spring in the Smokies.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this year's Food & Flower Festival—at least, according to Dolly herself—is the addition of musical performances throughout the duration of the festival. "Something else I’m happy about this year is that not only do we have all the flowers, we’re also bringing in a lot of great music to the festival. I just know it is really going to make the whole park feel so joyful," she says. You can buy tickets and read more about the performances here.
Guests can visit the festival between now and June 7th. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all guests will be screened with a four-question health assessments prior to entry. Face masks and social distancing will also be required. For more information about how to book tickets, visit the Dollywood website.
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