This week I left the theater behind for the opening of Dollywood’s 2017 season. One of my favorite festivals at Dolly’s theme park, The Festival of Nations, runs through April 9th, and in my opinion, is a must attend event.
My adventure began with a visit to the DP Celebrity Theater to view Mother Africa, a spectacular show featuring performers from throughout the continent of Africa. The show is entitled “My Home”, and features high-energy performers who perform amazing stunts. I’m not sure I have ever seen bowls used like they were in this show. Between spinning bowls, a kid being spun around, and amazing acrobats, this show should top your list when you visit the park. With a sense of exhilaration after seeing Mother Africa, it was on hear the amazing Invaders Steel Orchestra from Trinidad and Tobago. This group is highly respected throughout the world, and after one listen, you will understand why. The show opened with a foot tapping version of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”, which just happens to be one of my favorite songs, and ended with an awe inspiring rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus”. Needless to say, the show ended with a well deserved standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd. Be sure to stop by the Valley Theater to hear the thrilling Invaders Steel Orchestra.
After dancing up the isle, it was time to head over to the Back Porch Theater to hear the husband and wife team of Dearbhail and Robin. Dearbhail, who hails from The United Kingdom, plays the flute, and wife Robin, from Ireland, plays the Irish harp. The duo are amazing musicians, and have played for royalty and presidents. Not only do they provide soothing sounds from the harp and flute, but their comedic banter, especially from Dearbhail, is a show of its own. The duo even took time for a few questions from the audience, which gave the show an imitate feel.
After two shows featuring talented musicians, it was time to head over to the Showstreet Palace Theater to catch the Dollywood debut of Slask, a song and dance Ensemble from Poland. This colorful group, founded in 1953, has won many awards and performed for millions of people in over 45 countries. The show was a splash of color thanks to the many costumes worn by the dancers throughout the show, and the group is recognized as ambassadors of Polish cultural tradition. The dancers are truly amazing making this a must see show during the festival. While heading over to the Heartsong Theater to see a group from Switzerland, my companions and I ran across Hodman & Sally, a couple of roaming characters from England, who are a delightful to watch, especially when they interact with kids.
Keep and eye open for this hilarious roaming duo. The Heartsong Theater, with its “woods” theme decor, is the perfect fit for the Swiss group Streichmusik Alder. Dressed in traditional Swiss costumes, the group sings, yodels, and plays the alphorn among other instruments. As with the other shows, the Swiss had plenty of humor to accompany the excellent musicianship. The group even joked about the commercials for Ricola, which feature a Swiss gentleman. At the end of the show, the group offered to meet the crowd. After hanging out the the Swiss, we left the park while enjoying the always smooth sounds of Atahaupla, the talented musical group from Ecuador, who have appeared at the park for years in the Showstreet Gazebo. Be sure to pause and listen to a few songs from Atahaupla, and you will immediately feel a wave of peace wash over you. In between international shows, I suggest stopping by the newly named Front Porch Cafe, formerly called The Backstage.
All I can say is yummy. I was sad to see my time at Dollywood’s Festival of Nations end, but all the unique entertainment left me clamoring for a return visit. To see some of the best performers the world has to offer, be sure to visit Dollywood before the end of the festival on April 9th. Visit www.dollywood.com or call 1-800-Dollywood for park hours and additional information.