Let The Spring Festivals Begin
Nothing signals the arrival of spring more than dogwood blossoms. Pink and white blooms fringe gardens and roadways like lace on a wedding dress. The Dogwood Arts Festival is the party Knoxvillians put on to mark this time of year. You could say this is a grassroots effort, because hundreds of volunteers come together to create this celebration.
The Dogwood Trails were established in 1955 and remain at the heart of the Dogwood Arts Festival. Painted with a directional pink stripe, the scenic motor trails weave through neighborhoods for more than 60 miles to showcase the beloved dogwood trees. Blooming redbud, cherry, and ornamental pear trees join the visual symphony, bolstered by forsythia blooms, tulips, daffodils, narcissuses and hyacinths.
In 1961, community leaders created the first Dogwood Arts Festival to include art shows and musical performances. It’s come to be a time to visit with friends and make new ones. Parades, parties, tours of historic homes, fashion shows, teas and children’s activities fill the social schedule. Main events at this year’s festival span March 29 through early May.
The Dogwood Arts Festival intersects with Knoxville’s other premier springtime event. On April 28, the Rossini Festival transforms Knoxville’s Gay Street and Market Square into an Italian locale with food vendors, 100 artisan exhibits and musical entertainers on four stages. The Knoxville Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Otello” will be performed April 27 and April 29.
Festivals throughout East Tennessee express the thrill of the season. Dollywood’s Festival of Nations in Pigeon Forge showcases cultural entertainment, arts and foods. Craftsmen in Gatlinburg sell their wares April 4-7 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in a combined arts and craft show and Easter celebration. Nearly 20,000 people will gather at Chattanooga’s First Tennessee Pavilion for the 4 Bridges Art Festival on April 14-15. Contemporary artists from around the country offer original paintings, jewelry, glass, furniture, textiles, and sculpture. A children’s area allows for creative expression, and live music performed by local and regional artists adds to the celebration.
On April 28-29, the Spring Garden Fair at the Exchange Place Farmstead in Kingsport will feature blooming heirloom plants and flowers. The Strawberry Festival on May 5 in Dayton celebrates small-town life with hay rides, ice cream, and delicious strawberries.