The 66th-Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Redbud trees dot the landscape. Forsythia and rhododendron have begun to bloom. Dogwood-lined roads wait to greet you as you drive down a winding mountain road. Finally—spring has sprung in the Smokies!

Although every season has something to offer when you visit the Smoky Mountains, springtime has its own special appeal. With wildflowers blooming around every bend, you won’t find a better place to experience the colors, beauty, and warmth of spring.

This year, be sure to plan your springtime getaway to the Smokies during the month of April, when you can enjoy everything the Smoky Mountains have to offer and more at the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. This annual event has made its way to the Smokies each spring for the last 65 years, offering 5 full days of learning, exploration, and fun!

This year, the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is scheduled for April 19–23, 2016. That’s the second to last week in April—close to Mother’s Day weekend. You can plan your springtime getaway as an early Mother’s Day present, a birthday or anniversary trip, or just a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of home.

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is sure to revive your spirits and delight your senses as you see, smell, and experience the beauty of spring that the Smokies have in store. Bring your spouse, your best friend, a group of friends, or the whole family for a fun week in the Smoky Mountains in 2016.

66th-Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage
For those of you who have never been or even heard of the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Smokies, it’s a 5-day event that takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each spring. This year marks the 66th-annual pilgrimage, which is scheduled for April 19 (Tuesday) through April 23 (Saturday) in 2016.

What’s on the Schedule
This 5-day event in the Smokies is full of exciting things to do and experience during your springtime getaway. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be offering professionally guided programs that explore the region’s wildflowers, wildlife, culture, and natural history through guided walks, photography tours, art classes, and indoor seminars.

This year, the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage will feature 144 programs over the course of the event. And the week of this event is specifically chosen because it falls during the peak of spring flowering season in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the beauty that surrounds you on guided walks and at indoor presentations.

All outdoor programs during the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage will be held in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—rain or shine. Indoor events will be held at various venues throughout the nearby city of Gatlinburg. These venues include the Mills Conference Center and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sugarlands Training Room.

Some of the programs on the schedule for 2016 include:
Aquatic Insect Diversity
Beginner’s Photography Workshop
Birding on Cove Hardwood Nature Trail
Bird Photography
Black Bear and Wild Hog Walk
Bugs and Butterflies Walk
Fern Walk: The Sinks
Herb Lore of Appalachia
Going Natural in the Garden
Nature Journaling
Owl Prowl
Wildflowers and History along Old Sugarland Trail
Wildflower Walk: Potters Creek Trail

This is just a small sample of what you have to look forward to at the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in 2016. For more information about these events and to view the full list, check out the schedule on the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage website.

What’s New in 2016
If you have been to the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the past, there is at least one change you should be aware of. According to the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage website, there will be no Wednesday luncheon or photo contest this year. However, you can look forward to a Wednesday evening reception and exhibit honoring “Pilgrimage Artist-of-the-Year,” Nelson Ziegler. Nelson’s painting, “Roaring Fork,” was selected as the cover art for the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage brochure and website as well as the 2016 Pilgrimage t-shirts. (If you know you want a t-shirt, be sure to buy it online and receive a 20% discount!)

The Featured Wildflower Artist Reception is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be provided, and this event is open to the public. No daily pilgrimage fee or registration is required for this event. However, even if you cannot attend this reception, you can still view Nelson’s art at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in the Geoffrey A. Walpert Gallery from March 17 through April 24, 2016.

Registration and Sponsorship Details
To register for this year’s Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, simply visit the Registration page on their website. The online registration deadline is April 15, 2016, so make your plans to attend soon! If you miss the online registration deadline, you can still register onsite at the Mills Conference Center in Gatilnburg until April 19, 2016. Registration fees are $50 for adults attending for 1 day; $75 for 2 or more days. Students can attend for one or more days for only $15 (much show valid high school/college IDs). Children under 12 are FREE!

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