Dollywood‘s Festival of Nations will be in full swing from March 14 to April 20 this year, and there are so many reasons to attend. (Principally among them, it’s not unusual for Dolly Parton herself to stop by.) Even if you’ve attended before, this event changes every year so families are tempted to make the trip again.
Plus, you really can’t beat the premise: it gives attendees a chance to travel around the world without having to experience jetlag, digestion issues, or canceled flights. From the attractions to the entertainment, you really can’t miss this year’s creative spin. We’ll look at the five top reasons to include this event in your vacation plans.
1. Drumstruck Comes Back
Drumstruck is an interactive experience bringing West and South African rhythms together to the delight of audiences around the world. And when we say interactive, we really mean it. It’s not just the people on stage who have a drum, it’s every member of the audience as well. It’s a great way to celebrate different cultures while engaging in a therapeutic form of expression. So if your kids are a little worn out from all the driving, you might be surprised at just how relaxed they are when they pop back in the car.
The energy is undeniably contagious and perfect for audiences of all ages. The cast is talented, the beats are memorable, and the techniques are culturally inspiring. It’s a great way to learn about other nations while feeling the explosive thrill of a drums right under your own two hands. Those who review the show are shocked time after time at just how alive the audience becomes during these shows, transcending everyday life for a full hour into a world of pure power.
2. International Cuisine
Whether you consider yourself to be a foodie or not, one of the primary reasons for anyone to travel is for the exposure to delicious cuisines. Passport to Food gives you the chance to keep track of all the many yummy places you’ve traveled. This relatively new concept has been a hit with attendees and leaves them with a little souvenir to remember each concoction by.
Spanning multiple countries and continents, there are plenty of sweet and savory foods and drinks available. So depending on what strikes your fancy, you may be eating Korean nachos and washing it down with a Cuban mint refresher.
Past favorites have included paella, poutine, arroz con leche, bobotie, and beef bulgogi. If you run across a dish you’ve never heard of before, there’s no better time to get your stamp by sampling it. As you work your way across the universe, you may just come out on the other side with a new favorite (or two).
3. Namaste India Makes Its Premiere Debut
While Drumstruck has graced the famous stages at Dollywood before, the cast of Namaste India will find themselves in an entirely new space. This performance is presented by Beyond Bollywood, an organization that wants to share the beauty of the famous genre. You’ll get a full tour of the country of India through a variety of mediums, including music and dance.
The spectacle has more than 400 costumes on full display. The whirlwind of motion coupled with the vibrancy of colors is enough for anyone to get lost in this engrossing tale. Namaste India tells the story of one woman who wants to honor her mother’s wishes by going to India. Her journey mirrors the audience’s journey of going to an unknown land and learning its history and customs from scratch. It’s these types of experiences that connect humans from all over the world.
4. Share Your Story
The performers of Dollywood’s Festival of Nations take their jobs seriously. It’s not merely about sharing their talents on stage so they can go back to their hotel rooms and relax. They want to meet you and learn about your story too. People can only grow when they relate with one another, and what better time to talk than at a cultural event?
After the show is over, all you have to do is head down to the stage to get the conversation started. Ask questions about the performers’ homes and share details about your own culture and routine. No matter where you’re from, this event is a great way to spot the similarities and appreciate the differences in the many cultures all over the world. One thing’s for sure is that we’re all in this together, so we might as well learn who our teammates are.
5. Kids Will Love It (And Learn It Too)
There’s no need to fly your child halfway around the world in order to show them new cultures. Taking them to events like this can be just as effective (if not more so) to opening up your child’s eyes beyond their doorstep. When they see the performers, taste the foods, and point out their favorite costumes, they’re doing more than just having a good time — they’re learning what it means to grow up somewhere different.
Culturally aware children are not only more tolerant of people around them, they’re also more curious and open to incorporating new traditions into their lives. Taking them to the Festival of Nations could be the start of a lifelong passion that includes anything from reading to traveling to teaching.
One of the reasons why Dollywood remains so popular is because it’s constantly changing with the times. From new attractions to global performances, no two visits are ever quite the same. The spunk of the original Dolly is written into every corner of the park, and it’s impossible not to feel a little touch of magic from your experiences here. Whether you come to the Festival of Nations to bang a drum, try some food, or marvel at the costumes, there’s something for everyone to love between March 14 and April 20.