Lovers of bluegrass, take note! The Smoky Mountains are the place to be in September when it comes to vibin’ to some great live music. The Smoky Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Pigeon Forge happens each year, usually over the last weekend in September; in 2023, it will be held on September 22nd and 23rd. The festival features an all-star lineup of bluegrass bands. This year’s lineup includes Rhonda Vincent, the Po’ Ramblin Boys, Junior Sisk, Jimbo Whaley and Greenbriar, and more.
The festival doors open at 5 pm on September 22, and the event itself begins at 6 pm. It runs for just two evenings, so plan your visit accordingly! On-site restaurants are tasty but more pricey than many of the casual area eateries, so if you’re on a budget, you might want to grab dinner before heading to the festival.
Tickets are inexpensive–either $25 for back-half-of-the-hall seating, or $35 for the closer seats, so you aren’t going to break the bank to attend. According to the Pigeon Forge Bluegrass Website, you may be able to save on accommodations by booking through the National Quartet Convention’s guaranteed rate program; it might be worth checking the event website for details.
The festival is held at the Leconte Center, the area’s top conference center/event venue, boasting over 220,000 square feet. You can expect an easy-to-navigate blueprint, squeaky-clean bathrooms, and plenty of space to relax between concerts and events. The Leconte Center also has plenty of easily-accessible parking that’s free for event attendees. There are several restaurants on-site. Attractive, peaceful surroundings complete the package; the entire space is a pleasure to visit.
The Leconte Center is located just off the parkway in Pigeon Forge, so it’s particularly easy to access from the cabins, lodges, and other accommodations in the immediate Pigeon Forge area.
Who can you hear if you attend the festival this year? Stop into the 2023 Bluegrass Festival to enjoy concerts by the following top American bluegrass artists:
- The Grascals
- Junior Sisk
- Po’ Ramblin Boys
- Rhonda Vincent
- Jimbo Whaley & Greenbriar
- Authentic Unltd
- Balsam Range
- Dale Ann Bradley
- Joe Mullins
It’s hard to go wrong with such a highly acclaimed bunch of musicians. Kick back to fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and six-string tunes, and you might end up transported to another time, where musical roots run deep and keep the pulse of the Appalachian lifestyle moving.
Of course, the music itself is the heart of the Bluegrass Festival, but you’ll find much more. Local vendors round out the experience with instruments, books, food, and more that will make you feel like you’re part of the community. Stop and chat with local craftsmen and artisans, savor some true local cuisine, and attend meet-and-greets with band members.
Even visitors who don’t think they care for bluegrass sometimes find themselves won over once they’ve strolled through the festival and heard a band or two play. It’s hard to go wrong here, whether you spend a couple of hours or two entire days.
Other Places to Hear Bluegrass in Pigeon Forge
Not able to visit during this year’s Pigeon Forge Bluegrass Festival? You can also stop by Ole Smoky Moonshine to take in some amazing local live music almost every evening. Local bands that play here include Firewater Junction, The Darrell Webb Band, Monroeville, and The Midnight Run Band. If you’re wondering who will be playing during your visit, you can always call a few days in advance to ask who they have booked during your stay.
Ole Smoky is a great place to spend an evening enjoying live music, whether you want some whiskey on the rocks in a mason jar or a draft of local beer. It’s not the Pigeon Forge Bluegrass Festival, but it might be the next best option if you’re visiting at another time of year.
No matter what you choose, you’ll get to enjoy an experience you’ll never forget: Bluegrass in the heart of the Smokies, in the place where the music itself was born.