6 of the Best Nashville Events for the Whole Family
Music fans, antique shoppers, sporting aficionados, and holiday revelers can all find something to enjoy among Music City's best family-friendly annual events.
Nashville is a fun, exciting city bustling with country music and plenty of activities to keep you and your whole family busy at any time of the year. Although there is more than enough to see and do in the way of sightseeing, tours, live music, nightlife, and dining, you might still be looking for something more to keep yourself entertained in the bustling hub that is Music City. Depending on the time of year when you visit, you might be able to participate in one of a number of fun Nashville area events that are sure to please you and everyone you might be traveling with. Check out this list of six of the best Nashville events for the whole family, and get ready to plan your next trip around your favorites!
Bash on Broadway
Sponsored by Jack Daniel’s, the New Year’s Eve Bash on Broadway takes place every year in the heart of downtown Nashville. Thousands of visitors from Tennessee and beyond flock to the city center to partake in all the fireworks, live performances, and other festivities that help Nashville ring in the New Year. At midnight, partiers count down as a giant music note is dropped form one of the nearby skyscrapers. It’s no Times Square, but the Bash on Broadway is still an exciting party you won’t want to miss!
Most of the activities during the Bash on Broadway get started at noon, and if you think you can party hard for that many hours, plan to get your parking space as early as possible. The sooner you get downtown the better off you’ll be! This is a popular event that drew over 25000 people in 2015, so particularly if there’s a concert you don’t want to miss, try to get to the venue at least two hours ahead of time. There are plenty of area restaurants and bars open all night long to cater to Bash on Broadway guests, so you won’t have any trouble finding food and drinks while you party hard into the New Year!
Find a schedule for the Bash on Broadway at least a month ahead of time at Visit Music City’s web site.
Antiques & Garden Show
If you’re in Nashville during the month of February, check out the annual Antiques & Garden Show. This event may be a little bit boring to the younger members of your family, but anyone who enjoys the thrill of the hunt for a deal on an antique item or the fun of putting a green thumb to use in the garden is sure to love all the showcases and hands-on lectures that take place during this three-day extravaganza. Popular personalities from the world of gardening and antiquing both head to Nashville to host discussions on tips and tricks from both hobbies. This is a great time to do some shopping and to plan out your yard’s landscaping for the coming spring!
When you’re in town for the Antiques & Garden Show, consider booking your hotel stay with one of the event’s partner lodging options. The Omni Nashville Hotel, which is right next door to the Music City Center, offers a special discounted rate for anyone taking part in the show. Tickets to the event run $15 per person ahead of time, or $20 per person the day of, but if you are bringing a large family along you might be able to purchase group tickets instead. Group tickets include discounted regular admission as well as cheaper prices on celebrity lectures, so it can be well worth it to come up with ten people to book with!
Tickets to the Antiques & Garden Show can be purchased through the event’s web site.
Say hello to springtime with the annual Iroquois Steeplechase, which takes place the second Saturday of every May. During this popular horse racing event, tens of thousands of visitors take to the stands to watch a total of seven races that go on throughout the day. In 2016, the Iroquois Steeplechase will see its 75th year, so what better time to check it out than this important anniversary? A portion of proceeds from the sales of tickets to this event go to the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, so you’ll be doing something great for someone else all while having a fun day at the races
First and foremost, when planning your visit to the Iroquois Steeplechase, be sure to dress appropriately. Horse racing has always been a formal event in the Southern United States, and to this day, the tradition of dressing up like a southern lady or gentleman while watching the race stands firm. Ladies should wear their biggest, floppiest hats, and gentlemen should don top hats and coat tails. If you want a chance to enjoy the view from a place in the shade, call ahead and reserve a paid private tent and patio space right next to the track. Although it is a bit more costly than standard admission ticket, a tent can keep you and your whole family nice and cool while offering a sense of privacy as you cheer for your favorite competitor.
Get tickets to the Iroquois Steeplechase from the event web site.
CMA Music Festival & Bonnaroo
Every June, the Country Music Association hosts the CMA Music Festival, which is arguably the biggest and most popular event in Nashville. This huge party, packed with over 70 hours of live performances and spread out over four days, brings some of the biggest names in country music to the city that made them famous. Country music fans from around the world descend upon Nashville for the duration of this spectacular long weekend, and attendees are encouraged to enjoy everything the city has to offer in between catching concerts from their favorite musicians and songwriters. Although the main draw of this event is the sheer number of famous country music performers who take the stage, it is also a great chance to discover some up and coming new talent that may be fresh on the Nashville scene.
If the CMA Music Festival isn’t enough to hold your attention for four days, never fear! The same four days are also full of even more live music performances from every genre at Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo takes place in Manchester, which is about a half-hour drive outside of Nashville, and many out of town visitors spend two days at the CMA Music Festival and two days at this outdoor event as well. Bonnaroo is sometimes described as a modern day Woodstock, which is a pretty apt way to put it, as the concerts take place in the open air on a large stretch of farmland where many guests pitch their tents and camp out for the four-day stretch. If camping out at Bonnaroo doesn’t entice you, you can always grab a hotel room, but be aware that the entire city books up well in advance of this double-feature weekend in June!
Get your tickets to the CMA Music Festival on the CMA web site.
A Country Christmas
Join the Country Music Association and the Gaylord Opryland Resort to celebrate the holiday season in true Nashville style! Throughout November and December, Music City plays host to a wide variety of unique and exciting events that all fall under the blanket title of A Country Christmas. The most widely recognized of these events is the CMA Country Christmas show, which is hosted annually by Jennifer Nettles and broadcasts on ABC from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The show features dozens of live performers for a night of thrilling entertainment any country music fan is sure to love.
If tickets to the CMA Country Christmas show are a little outside your price range, check out the (completely free!) tour of the Opryland Hotel’s Christmas lights instead. Stroll through the beautiful and elegant interiors of the hotel, and find yourself transported into a fantastic indoor winter wonderland that will amaze visitors of all ages. Each section of this massive hotel is decorated with a different holiday-inspired theme, from a nativity scene to Santa’s workshop and everything in between. While you’re there, check out the ICE! display, located at the on-site Gaylord Opryland Events Center. Every year, ICE! features a different theme (including the Grinch, the Nutcracker, a Peanuts Christmas, and more), which inspires the creation of six rooms full of beautifully hand-carved ice sculptures that surprise and delight everyone who takes the tour. Dress warmly before you head into ICE!, as the rooms are all kept at 9 degrees Fahrenheit in order to keep the sculptures from melting! Don’t hurry through the exhibit, no matter how cold it is, and be sure to take a trip down one of the four big slides made entirely of ice at the end of the tour.
When the holiday season draws near, check out the schedule of Country Christmas events at the Gaylord Opryland web site.
CMA Music Awards
The CMA Music Awards call themselves “country music’s biggest night,” and this is completely true! There is no higher honor in the world of country music than receiving a CMA award, and musicians and fans alike look forward to this exciting event all year long. Every November, the Country Music Association honors performers as well as songwriters, directors, producers, and executives who have made a difference in the world of this solidly Nashville musical genre. In 2015, the event marked its 50th year, and it is still going strong as one of the most exciting annual activities to take place in Tennessee.
The performers for each year’s CMA Music Awards are announced a month or so ahead of time, but if you plan to attend this major country music event, be sure to purchase tickets well in advance. Tickets are often released in stages, so if you miss the first release you may have another chance to grab seats for this star-studded evening. Be prepared to spend a significant amount of money for the opportunity to experience this particular event. If you and your family are huge fans of country music, a night at the CMA Music Awards is well worth the cost!
Purchase your tickets to the CMA Music Awards through the CMA web site as soon as they become available.
Concerts and other live performances may top the charts when it comes to Nashville’s events, but there is plenty more to do on your next trip to Music City. If you find yourself visiting at the right time of year, don’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy some of Tennessee’s finest activities!
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