Branson, MO, USA — With international attention on the recent debut of Outlaw Run, the world’s “most daring wood coaster,” Silver Dollar City kicks off a celebration of global adventure and entertainment with World-Fest. America’s largest international festival presents new shows with drummers and aerialists from Argentina, fire-knife dancers from Samoa and a Russian folk trio, plus the Italian show Spettacolo Musicale and the return of Viva Italia, an entire plaza filled with Italian entertainment. Guests can travel the world and see groups from Switzerland, Peru, Ireland and more throughout the festival, April 17 – May 5, at the Branson, Missouri theme park.
The new show Amamos Argentina presents the Los Pampas Gauchos drummers and dancers, featuring Argentinian National Folk Dancing Champion Andres Sosa, plus aerial dancers from Buenos Aires who soar above the stage. Also new, Island Fire presents the rhythms, music and dances from Samoa, Fiji and the South Sea Islands, and features world-champion fire-knife dancers twirling flaming ceremonial knives.
The popular “Viva Italia” showcase of Italian entertainment returns, presenting Spettacolo Musicale, with tenor Aaron Caruso and Sicilian soprano Cristina Corollo accompanied by the 7-piece live band, The Gondoliers. Viva Italia, a “Little Italy” plaza, comes alive with Italian theatrical entertainment, including “living florals” and statues, stilt walkers, interactive musical comedy, live “music box” performers and colorful costumed characters.
Returning groups include Streichmusic Alder, alphorn players and yodelers from the Swiss Alps, Ireland’s premier harpist Dearbhail Finnegan and English musician Robin Slater, Austrian yodeler Kerry Christensen, plus the melodic pan flute music of Ecuador Manta.
Even the food goes global for World-Fest at Tastes of the World, a pavilion of international specialties. Guests can feast on selections from savory French crepes to German apfel dumplings.
World-Fest, April 17 – May 5, is open Wednesdays through Sundays. Information: www.silverdollarcity.com. World-Fest is presented by Humana.
The Showboat Branson Belle, “America’s Most Entertaining Dinner Cruise,” presents the popular show Made in the USA as it cruises Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri. The show features Janice Martin, the world’s only violin-playing aerialist, and the male vocal group the ShowMen in a celebration of all-American music. The show and a three-course meal are featured on all cruises aboard the authentic 700-seat paddle-wheeler, now through December.
Martin, a world-class violinist, pianist and vocalist whose artistry has been heralded worldwide by The New York Times, Miami Herald and Washington Post, performs new selections, including an aerial act high above the stage as she plays the violin. The ShowMen, five talented male vocalists and dancers, fill the stage with a powerful blend of contemporary harmonies and standout solos, all accompanied by the Showboat’s signature live band Rockin’ Dockers. Comedian and magician Christopher James is the master of ceremonies.
Beginning in late May, a second Made in the USA show is presented on noon and Sunday cruises, featuring master pianist Julie McClarey, fiddler Dean Church, the female quartet The ShowBelles, along with the Showboat’s live band The Castaways, with comedic magician Mike Bliss as emcee.
New this year, Bluegrass Cruises are presented May 24 -26 at noon, featuring performances by top Bluegrass artists. Performers include: Monroe Crossing on May 24, the Larry Stephenson Band on May 25, and The Special Consensus on May 26. Southern Gospel Cruises return August 25 – September 1 on noon cruises. Southern Gospel music greats featuring: The Talleys on August 25, Crist Family on August 26, Down East Boys on August 27, Blackwood Brothers Quartet on August 28, Primitive Quartet on August 29, Palmetto State Quartet on August 30, Gold City on August 31 and LeFevre Quartet on September 1.
The menu from the Showboat’s chef includes slow simmered Beef Roast and Honey-Dijon Glazed Chicken, and the chef’s own Golden Brittle Lemon-Berry Torte. All meals are prepared onboard in the ship’s galley and served in the three-story atrium dining theater. Specialty dining options include the Paddle Wheel Club Room and Captain’s Row.
The Showboat Branson Belle cruises run through December 31. Cruise information: www.showboatbransonbelle.com
Branson’s White Water presents its most rockin’ season ever, with new events including concerts and dance parties, “dive-in” movies on a giant screen above the wave pool, and an expanded calendar with more days for fun in the sun, plus more nights during Night Water. Expanded picnic areas and additional umbrellas offer more areas to relax poolside, and a special new benefit is added for season pass holders: admission 10 minutes before park opening to select their favorite beach spots. Open May 18 – September 2,White Water features 13 acres of tropical attractions, more than a dozen rides and attractions and two million gallons of cool, water fun.
Concerts and dance parties are planned for select dates throughout the season. A new, 10-foot screen above the 500,000-gallon Surf’s Up Wave Pool displays the “countdown to waves” and then shows “dive-in” movies Thursday nights during Night Water. A popular nighttime event, Night Water returns Thursdays through Saturdays July 4 – August 10, plus Saturdays August 17-31. From 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., guests can play all day and into the night, surfing the wave pool at dusk, floating Aloha River under the stars, or racing down the speed slides in the dark. Night Water evenings are offered August 23 & 30 from 5 – 10 p.m.
Water rides range from mild to wild. For the thrill seekers, Kalani Towers is a 7-story, 6-slide, multi-experience thrill ride, with two 300-foot drop slides for free-fall body sliding and four additional 312-foot slides for lane racing. For the more relaxed adventurer, Aloha River is an 800-foot plus river, where tube riders cast off and float in a setting of lush Polynesian jungles, with twists and turns, water features, fountains, misters, geysers and more. Additional attractions range from the double speed slide Raging River Rapids to the 4-person raft ride Ohana Falls.Splashaway Cay is an interactive family attraction with slides and geysers, and Coconut Cove is a play area specially designed for smaller kids.
Also new this year are Birthday Party Packages and Junior Life Guard classes, offered in June. White Water is open May 18-19, then daily May 25 – August 11, and on select days August 13 – September 2. For more information: www.bransonwhitewater.com.