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Whether it's a trip to the city or into the wilderness you don't have to travel far from Knoxville to find it! Come explore the region (and more) with me, because no matter what day it is, it's always "trip time."

Travel around the world at Dollywood

Travel around the world at Dollywood

 Dollywood's Festival of Nations runs through April 9th

Dollywood's Festival of Nations runs through April 9th

Money and time can often hamper the ability to travel the world, but every now and then it is possible to have the world come to you.  That’s kind of the idea behind Dollywood’s Festival of Nations , which just opened for another run .  Visitors to the theme park in the Smoky Mountains get a taste of music, entertainment, and food from around the world without going out of the park.

Banners with flags representing dozens of countries hang high above the turnstiles and buildings as you enter the park.  Just around the bend, the sounds of the pan flute and other instruments from the Andes Mountains draw you in to the small gazebo along Showstreet where Atahualpa entertains audiences with its melodies and dance from Ecuador.   The group is familiar to long time visitors to the Festival of Nations.

 The Invaders Steel Orchestra

The Invaders Steel Orchestra

Up in Craftsmen’s Valley, “Desposito” rings out on the steel drums as the Invaders Steel Orchestra  from Trinidad & Tobago play the Valley Stage.  This group is always one of my favorites.  Throughout each performance this amazingly talented group puts a Caribbean spin on both old and new favorites.  Afterward they invite folks to come up and see the steel drums up close and even let people test their skills playing them.

This year, there are several new acts hitting the stages of Dollywood.  The most celebrated has a tie to Dolly Parton herself.  Ladysmith Black Mambazo of South Africa backed here up on her recording of Peace Train on the 1996 album Treasures.   During a performance on opening day, the group reprised their role in that original recording, joining Dolly on stage for another round of “Peace Train.”

 

 Dolly Parton performs "Peace Train" with Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Dolly Parton performs "Peace Train" with Ladysmith Black Mambazo

 The Flamenco Kings performing at Dollywood

The Flamenco Kings performing at Dollywood

Take seven brothers who all studied at the Barcelona Dance Conservatory, mix in orchestral maneuvers, martial arts and lots of sex appeal and you have Los Vivancos, The Flamenco Kings.  This high powered show at the Pines Theater will have you mesmerized for the entire time these men are on stage.  Some of the brothers might be familiar as some have guest starred on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

 The National Dance Company of Siberia

The National Dance Company of Siberia

Another great display of dancing comes from the National Dance Company of Siberia.  Set against a snowy backdrop, these men and women dressed in native costumes gracefully move across the stage.  It’s a beautiful and uplifting show filled with great music and taste of Siberian culture.

 

After you’ve finished a show or in between performances, take time to taste your way around the world.  Enjoy dishes like Paella and Gyros or snacks like Baklava or Beavertails. 

The Festival of Nations runs through April 9th. (Dollywood is closed on April 1st for Easter).  It’s just the beginning of a year of “Show Stopping” entertainment.  The new Spring Mix concert series starts on April 11th.   

For park hours and ticket information visit www.dollywood.com .

Spring on the Songbird Trail

Spring on the Songbird Trail

Knoxville's Museum of Art - Be inspired

Knoxville's Museum of Art - Be inspired