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Park “Music of the Mountains” Festival Celebrates a Variety of Traditional Musical Styles

Music of the Mountains Festival Celebrates a Variety of Traditional Musical Styles

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will hold its eleventh annual Music of the Mountains celebration Friday, April 17 through Sunday, April 19, 2015. The event tells the story of music in the Southern Appalachians through its diverse history by letting visitors experience a variety of music that was played in the region or represents Old-Time music’s roots. With performances held in surrounding communities and in the park, the event tells the story of how mountain music grew out of traditional Celtic and religious roots, to become something that would be played on front porches all over the Smokies.

“The music in these mountains tells such a wonderful story,” said park ranger Caitlin Worth. “This festival provides the opportunity to find the type of traditional music that you love and learn how the stories that the music tells connect it to this place and its people.”

The three-day event begins with a concert of Celtic music by Four Leaf Peat on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend, Tenn. General admission is $5.00. Music of the Mountains continues on Saturday, kicking off National Park Week in style, with a series of free performances of old-time mountain music, dulcimer and early bluegrass during the day at the park’s Sugarlands Visitor Center. Music will be ongoing from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. (see schedule below).

Music of the Mountains Festival

NPS Photo: Musicians play at the Music of the Mountains Festival

Two new acts will be part of the festival this year. Tim Simek is a two time national champion on dulcimer winning the national championship for hammered dulcimer in 2011 and for mountain dulcimer in 1997. Out of North Carolina, The Freight Hoppers are a four-piece string band who has been playing Old Time music for 20 years that is high energy and fun to dance to.

Also new this year will be a Youth Picking Contest hosted by the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. Youth ages 8–17 are invited to compete on either fiddle or guitar starting at 4 p.m. on the plaza outside of the Ripleys Aquarium of the Smokies. Registration for the contest begins at 2:30 p.m. at the same location and spots will be limited. Spectators are encouraged and the contest is free for the public to watch.

The Sunday program at the Smoky Mountain Visitor Center in Cosby, Tenn. will feature traditional Appalachian religious music with an old-fashioned community sing along from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. This event is free to the public.

Music of the Mountains schedule of events:


April 17Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, Townsend

Admission: $5.00

7 p.m. – Celtic Music by Four Leaf Peat


April 18Sugarlands Visitor Center, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Admission is Free

10 a.m. Boogertown Gap Band

11 a.m. Lost Mill String Band

12 p.m. and 1 p.m. The Freight Hoppers

2 p.m. Tim Simek on Dulcimer


April 18- Plaza at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg

Admission is Free

4 p.m. – Youth Pickin’ Contest for ages 8 – 17


April 27thSmoky Mountain Visitor Center, Cosby

Admission is Free

2 p.m.-4 p.m. –“Heritage, Harps and Hymns”–traditional offerings from Cocke County

UPDATE: Please note the location change for the Music of the Mountains event on Sunday in Cosby, TN.  Due to a forecast of heavy rain, the event location has been moved to Liberty Church of Cosby at 4304 Liberty Rd. 

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  1. Missing Them Hills

    What luck! This old West Virginia boy now living in Florida will be camping in the Smokeys during the Festival. Can’t wait to hear the music!