Merging country roots with popular culture, there’s something for everyone on the vibrant streets of Nashville. Whether looking to be inspired by arts, energised by music or indulged with cuisine, visitors to Music City will find themselves spoilt for choice thanks to an extensive calendar of events throughout the year. Here are just 10 events on Nashville’s calendar not to be missed in 2019.
Tin Pan South Songwriter’s Festival (26th March – 30th March)
Kicking off the line-up of must-see events across the city, the Tin Pan South Songwriter’s Festival is an experience made for every music lover’s bucket list. Entering its 27th year, the festival brings together over 400 songwriters to perform across five nights in various locations around the city, making it the largest event of its kind in the world. While music legends such as Rodney Crowell and Sacha Skarbek are known to frequent the festival, it is the extent and diversity of songs performed which makes the festival truly unique. Festival passes are available to purchase online and officially go on sale on 26th February 2019.
2019 National Football League (NFL) Draft (25th April – 27th April)
For the first time in history, Music City will be the proud host for the 84th annual NFL Draft. Running from the 25th – 27th April, the Draft is undoubtedly one of America’s most anticipated sporting events of the year, with the 2018 Draft being the highest-rated and most watched in history. The annual draft sees both leading and up-and-coming players await their selection on one of the NFL’s 32 national teams for the season ahead. As part of the event, a three-day football festival, NFL Draft Experience Presented By Oikos Triple Zero®, will provide football fans the opportunity to compete in games, experience interactive exhibits, meet and greet with their favourite players and celebrate the Draft results in Music City. True to the spirit of the city, music will feature heavily in the agenda, with top Nashville artists performing throughout the weekend. Tickets are required for seating within the NFL Draft theatre, with registration times yet to be announced.
CMA Music Fest (6th – 9th June)
Nashville comes to life in June, when the city is home to country music’s premier event of the year, CMA Music Fest. Hosted by the Country Music Association, CMA Music Fest will see country music fans rock out to four days and nights of live music held at various venues across the city including Music City Centre, Riverfront Park Stage and Nissan Stadium. Now in its 48th year, the annual event attracts an all-star line-up of established and up-and-coming country music stars, with meet and greets and Q&A sessions organised at the festival’s Xfinity Fan Fair X. All participating artists play for free, with proceeds from the festival benefitting music education programs through the CMA Foundation. Tickets for the 2019 event are available online.
Nashville Pride (22nd June – 23rd June)
Entering its 31st year of celebrations, the Nashville Pride festival is the largest LGBTQ event in the state of Tennessee. The Pride Equality Walk is the jewel in the crown of the annual festivities, with the turnout for last year’s parade numbering in the thousands. The festival grounds are located at Public Square Park, and feature multiple live music performances and DJ sets, drag shows and over 200 vendors including local not-for-profit organisations, artists, businesses and food and beverage offerings. The 2019 event is set to be even bigger than before, making it a must for visitors to Music City in June. Tickets will be available for purchase online closer to the event.
2019 Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th celebration and the 12th Annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival (4th July)
Experience a different side to America’s favourite holiday by celebrating 4th July in Music City! Featuring free live music, family entertainment and food stalls, the day’s festivities are topped off with one of the of the largest fireworks displays in the country, set to music from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. For those feeling more famished than festive, the 12th annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival takes place in East Park at 700 Woodland Street on the same day. A Nashville specialty, Hot Chicken is traditionally served with bread and pickles but can also be used to spice up a salad, pasta, or even with a malted waffle for brunch. Sample some of the city’s best Hot Chicken, or watch home cooks battle it out in the amateur cooking competition for the prestigious title of ‘2019 King or Queen of Hot Chicken’! Admission is free to both events.
Live on the Green Music festival (August – September)
Running throughout August until the Labour Day weekend, Live on the Green is a free outdoor music festival held at Public Square Park in Nashville. The festival showcases the city’s emerging musical talent and highlights well-known national acts. Since it began in 2009, over 590,000 fans have flocked to Nashville to attend the event. The festival has hosted more than 190 performing artists, including Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Sheryl Crow, Alabama Shakes, Ben Folds, The Head And The Heart, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Band of Horses, Cold War Kids, Young The Giant, City and Colour and more!
Music City Food + Wine festival (September)
Whether you’re a BBQ buff or just worship wine, the Music City Food + Wine festival is the stuff foodie dreams are made of. The brainchild of Grammy award-winning artists (and Nashville residents) Kings of Leon, world-renowned chef Jonathan Waxman, Music City Food + Wine Festival brings together the stars of Nashville’s culinary scene with acclaimed regional and national chefs, wine and spirits experts. The festival features interactive cooking demonstrations, engaging panel discussions, intimate tasting sessions and countless opportunities to sample the wares of a myriad of international restaurants, wineries, distilleries and breweries.
Nashville 50th Anniversary Film Festival (3rd – 12th October)
Each year, the Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) presents the best in world cinema, American independent films and documentaries by veteran masters, up-and-coming directors, and first-time filmmakers. Originally founded in 1969, it is the longest running festival of its kind in the United States, and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019. The festival has attracted a wide range of famous faces to its screenings over the years such as Oprah Winfrey, Al Gore and Nicole Kidman. It was also where Craig Brewer – the director of Footloose, Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, won his first award as a novice filmmaker!
Country Music Association (CMA) Awards (November)
Hailed as the biggest night in country music, the CMA Awards pay homage to the outstanding achievements of artists and broadcasters in the country music industry. Albums and songs released between 1st July 2018 and 30th June 2019 will be eligible for awards, with nominees and winners chosen by more than 7,400 industry professional members of the Country Music Association. The annual event is held at Nashville’s Bridgestone Area and starts in style with a glamourous red-carpet entrance, while the ceremony features live performances and award presentations by the who’s who of country music. Best of all, the event is open to fans as well as stars!
Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight: NYE in Nashville (31st December)
Ring in the new year and rock out the old in Music City at Nashville’s spectacular New Year’s Eve party. The show is a free outdoor concert which takes place at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park on New Year’s Eve, with festivities kicking off at 4:00pm. The event is famous for featuring an all-star line-up of live music, and has previously played host to artists such as Keith Urban, The Kings of Leon, Peter Frampton, Maren Morris and Chris Stapleton to name a few. Partygoers can count down to the New Year as a 4.5 metre music note drops from a 44 metre height to mark the stroke of midnight. The music note drop then triggers a fantastic firework display and confetti cannons as revellers celebrate the arrival of the New Year.
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