Nashville, Tennessee, is a wonderful southern city with a lot to offer visitors and residents alike. The city is large and growing, so it feels urban and exciting, but it also manages to hold on to its sense of southern charm.
Nashville is perhaps best known as being the heart and soul of the country music industry, but there’s a lot more to it than that. There are wonderful restaurants, great nightlife and it’s also an ideal destination during the holiday season.
If you’re looking for a getaway this winter, consider one of the many Nashville Christmas and holiday events.
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ICE At the Gaylord Opryland Hotel
The Gaylord Opryland is a massive, grand hotel and resort. In fact, it’s the largest non-casino resort in the continental U.S. It’s a tourist attraction in and of itself with its indoor gardens, fantastic restaurants, and the recently completed SoundWaves indoor and outdoor waterpark attraction.
While it’s always worth a visit, the Opryland Hotel particularly shines during the holiday season with their ICE event, which is part of their Country Christmas-themed events.
ICE features more than two million pounds of ice, carved and sculpted based on a theme. This year’s theme is A Christmas Story, the beloved holiday comedy.
There is tubing, and there’s also an ice nativity scene, but that’s not where the holiday events end at the Opryland.
There are millions of lights that decorate the hotel, and there are family-friendly events such as themed dining and holiday shows. The hotel is also hosting “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical,” and “The Gift of Christmas with Trace Adkins & Friends Dinner Show.”
Christmas in Franklin
Franklin, Tennessee is near Nashville, and the town offers one of the most traditional holiday experiences in the state that is definitely worth a visit.
Dickens of Christmas is the signature event in the town, and this year will mark the 35th anniversary of the event.
Dickens of a Christmas is the largest outdoor Christmas festival in Middle Tennessee, and it recreates the time of Charles Dickens. The Victorian architecture of downtown Franklin makes a wonderful backdrop for the event.
The event features 200 musicians, characters, and dancers, many of which are from Charles Dickens’ stories.
Franklin is only around 20-minutes by car from Nashville, and the event draws more than 50,000 attendees. There are horse-drawn carriage rides as well as vendors.
Country Music Hall of Fame
The Country Music Hall of Fame is one of Nashville’s biggest attractions, and they get in on the holiday spirit of the city as well. There is a lit Christmas tree at the hall of fame, and there are the Deck the Hall festivities held throughout the holiday season.
You can get photos with Santa for free on Saturdays, participate in ornament making, and listen in on songwriter sessions.
This year’s tree-lighting ceremony will feature the music of the McCrary Sisters.
Christmas at the Ryman
The Ryman Auditorium is famous in the music world, and Amy Grant and Vince Gill are going to play a total of 12 Christmas concerts at the theater this season. Christmas at the Ryman starts on December 11 and goes through December 23, and according to show organizers for the first time, this year’s schedule includes matinee shows.
Rodney Crowell will also be joining Amy Grant and Vince Gill, and he has written songs for Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Keith Urban, and more. He’s a two-time Grammy winner with 15 number one songs on the country music charts.
Cheekwood Holiday Lights
The Cheekwood Holiday Lights are a favorite Nashville holiday event, and not to be missed. There is a mile of holiday light displays totaling more than one million lights. The one-mile loop features a grand entrance with s’mores, lights, and holiday music.
There is the Star Field, which is on the Great Lawn in front of the Cheekwood Mansion, and it includes more than 250 sections of lights programmed to move to holiday music. At Icicle Landing, it feels like you’re in an ice storm, and there’s the Tunnel of Magic, which are colorful arches along the Bradford Robertson Color Garden.
The interior of the Cheekwood Mansion features a 20’ tall poinsettia tree and other decorations.
At the Turner Seasons Garden, there is the North Pole Express, which is a holiday-themed train, and there are carolers at the Frist Learning Center every night during the holiday season.
You can make s’mores at Cheekwood Estates and Gardens during the holiday season and do some gingerbread decorating as well.
Monell’s Victorian Christmas
Several days throughout December, Monell’s hosts a holiday dinner. It’s a tradition in Nashville, and it features caroling and Victorian-style fare. The Victorian Christmas meal is five courses served on crystal, gold, china, and linens.
Carolers in Victorian clothing entertain during the dinner, and at the end of the meal, the lights are turned off and candles are handed out. Everyone is invited to sing Christmas carols.
Reservations are required, and the menu includes items like smoky salmon, stuffed chicken breast, and a filet of beef.
Monell’s Victorian Christmas Dinner has been a holiday staple in the city for more than 20 years, and you should book as early as possible because the meals do sell out.
The Dancing Lights of Christmas
Finally, there are the Dancing Lights of Christmas event at the Wilson County fairgrounds. The event is the largest drive-through light and music show in the state, and the route spans for 2.5 miles. The event includes Santa’s Village as well, and all of the lights dance to music as you drive along.
It usually takes more than 30 minutes to complete the drive, and when you stop at Santa’s Village, you can take a photo with the man himself.
Nashville is a great city to visit if you want to get in the holiday spirit. The Opryland Hotel is probably the most well-known holiday event and attraction in the city, but there are many others as well.