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New traditions, old favorites: Firechaser Express coaster, Festival of Nations usher in Dollywood's 29th season

March 31st, 2014 10:37 am by J. H. Osborne

New traditions, old favorites: Firechaser Express coaster, Festival of Nations usher in Dollywood's 29th season

PIGEON FORGE — There's lots of new live entertainment, including performers from around the globe, at Dollywood for this year's Festival of Nations, which continues through April 21.

Dollywood's 29th season officially got under way last weekend with the traditional on-park appearances by Dolly Parton and the launch of the new $16 million family-friendly roller coaster FireChaser Express — further cementing Dollywood's popularity as a destination for roller coaster enthusiasts of all ages.

But Dollywood hasn't lost any focus on offering live entertainment throughout its season, which includes five major festivals.

Two thrilling new shows take center stage for this year's Festival of Nation's lineup — the world-wide phenomenon "Mother Africa" and the elegant "La Danza de Colombia."

In all, Festival of Nations features the cultures of more than 20 countries, represented through authentic demonstrations of music, dance, food and art. Traditional cuisine and cultural activities allow guests a glimpse into the traditions of other countries.

All Festival of Nations shows are included with park admission.

"I've been truly blessed to discover so many amazing and beautiful cultures during my travels," Parton said in a prepared statement. "I'm glad I can share those experiences with the folks who visit Dollywood during my Festival of Nations. Families can enjoy the best the world has to offer right here in my Smoky Mountain home."

"Mother Africa" comes to D.P.'s Celebrity Theater after a recent stay in New York. This renowned 45-minute show combines African dancing, music and acrobatics to delight audiences through a world-class demonstration of rich rhythms and songs celebrating the diverse traditions found across Africa. While the artists hail from various countries throughout Africa, they perform as one when they present this stunning, high-energy production.

"La Danza de Colombia" takes audiences on a journey through the rich heritage of Colombia. This fascinating show provides an elegant look at the majestic folklore and cultural traditions of the Colombian people. Full of the passion of Colombia, the show pairs emotional dance with moving and powerful music to create an experience audiences will not forget. "La Danza de Colombia" takes the Showstreet Palace Theater stage.

Dollywood's 2014 Festival of Nations lineup also includes the following new shows and acts:

Moscow Nights — Originally from Russia, this versatile trio is now one of the most popular, established folk groups in the United States, with a repertoire featuring masterpieces of Russian folklore.

Buddy MacDonald Trio — Canadian singer/songwriter Buddy MacDonald brings Celtic- and Gaelic-influenced folk infused with his unique sound and clever songs.

Strings of Fire — Paraguay's Ramon Romero, an international harp virtuoso, delivers the sounds and melodies of South America, proving to audiences his harp has "Strings of Fire."

Streichmusik Alder — An eclectic group of Swiss musicians brings upbeat and traditional music, including formation yodeling and alphorn players, from the Alps of Switzerland to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Pianoforte Balletto — A drivable grand piano from Italy makes its way through the park taking music to the people. With a modern-day Mozart behind the wheel — or the keys — this humorous musical instrument comes complete with a live ballerina on top.

Acrobatic Unicycle — This daredevil from Ethiopia displays an amazing amount of courage as he performs extreme acrobatics on his tricky unicycle.

Returning favorites are Hodman and Sally, a wandering street act from the fictitious nation of "Oblivia"; Atahualpa, featuring native Incan instruments; Zambian Vocal Group, an a cappella five-member male chorus; Zebra Stelzentheater, stilt dancers in original Bavarian folk costumes; a Scottish bagpiper; and a Polish accordion player.

Each day, Dollywood's "One World Celebration" unites all Festival of Nations' visiting performers in a unique musical and colorful bash throughout Dollywood's Showstreet area. Dressed in colorful native costumes, the international cast engages guests with this fun street celebration.

The park's annual festival calendar is rounded out this season with:

Dollywood's Barbeque & Bluegrass, May 24-June 8: Some of the best barbeque in the South is paired with some of the biggest names in bluegrass, with daily concerts (included in park admission) throughout the park from artists including The Time Jumpers featuring Vince Gill, The Boxcars with J.D. Crowe, Riders in the Sky, The Bankester Family and many more. While the music serves as a treat to the ears, Dollywood's award-winning food provides the perfect complement for the taste buds. Tender and tangy ribs, pulled pork, barbequed chicken, smoked sausage and more make this the ultimate family picnic.

Dollywood's Great American Summer, June 13-Aug. 31: The festival has been extended for a longer run in this, its second, year to give families more opportunities to enjoy Dollywood at night.

Longer park operating hours, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily, and a spectacular nightly fireworks show were introduced last year and proved very popular with the public.

Dollywood's Harvest Festival, Sept. 22-Nov. 1: Its centerpiece is the National Southern Gospel Celebration. During this event, the sounds of beautiful Southern gospel music echo from stage to stage thanks to multiple free concerts each day. Guests are treated to demonstrations from talented crafters, and the park's menus change to reflect the offerings of a bountiful fall harvest.

Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas, Nov. 8-Jan. 3, 2015: The event features four million holiday lights and spectacular holiday performances, including "Dollywood's A Christmas Carol," with Dolly Parton's hologram as the Ghost of Christmas Past. From the award-winning shows and elaborate holiday decorations to the twinkling lights and Christmas-themed menus, Dollywood captures the essence of Christmas.

For more information, including park hours and ticket prices, visit www.dollywood.com.

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