The Best of Nashville Festivals and Events
A Nashville welcome begins with a great, big “howdy!” and a smile. Then, before they know it, visitors find themselves swept along into whatever good times are being had at the moment. Whether it’s books, barbecue, or bluegrass, the city is always celebrating something somewhere.
Tomato Art Festival. Just when you thought you were festivaled out, along comes this quirky celebration in art and the late-summer tomato harvest. Check it out in hip East Nashville (tomatoartfest.com). August is also a great time to visit the Nashville Flea Market, one of the nation’s biggest. Up to 1,200 vendors offer antiques, jewelry, carpets, clothes, and everything in between on the last weekend of every month. (thefairgrounds.com/fleamarket),
Music City Food + Wine Festival. Come hungry to Nashville’s most lavish gastronomic showcase. Star chefs, sommeliers, and local culinary talent serve up this three-day smorgasbord of tastings and sips which features chef demos, meet-and-greets, signings, a gospel brunch, and much more (musiccityfoodandwinefestival.com). The Tennessee State Fair (tnstatefair.org) is a textbook state fair, offering midway rides, pageants, pig races, funnel cake, fiddle competitions, 4-H exhibits, bake-offs, champion livestock, and, of course, music.
Southern Festival of Books. This free celebration of the written word, produced by Humanities Tennessee, welcomes hundreds of writers in all genres for three literary days of readings, panel discussions, and book signings. Punctuating the proceedings are an “Authors in the Round” dinner, programs for children and young adults, and exhibitions of everything book-related (humanitiestennessee.org/programs).
CMA Music Awards. It’s the granddaddy of country music prizes. Downtown, the streets are closed to traffic and open to anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of singers, musicians, songwriters, producers, and industry execs walking the red carpet. How bright is the star wattage? The 2016 event, hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, featured Charlie Pride, Tricia Yearwood, Keith Urban, and George Strait, among others (cmaworld.com/cma-awards).
A Country Christmas. Every day in December, Nashville is transformed with lights, ice, and any form of holiday fun imaginable, courtesy of Gaylord Opryland. The 2017 lineup includes snow tubing, skating, carriage rides, river cruises, gingerbread decorating, snowball tossing, ice sculptures, and more. Families can come for breakfast with the Grinch, stay for cookies with Mrs. Claus, and stick around for a dinner show by the Gatlin Brothers (visitmusiccity.com/visitors/events/acountrychristmas).