The holiday season is here, there’s no denying it! Trees are twinkling with lights, the air has its seasonal crispness back, fireplaces brighten and warm homes, and a general cheer has started to fill the air.
I say put on your boots, grab that wooly scarf, and take advantage of the seasonal festivals and celebrations happening around the city. Food, music, arts + family fun makes for the perfect day.
RELATED: If you’re interested in getting your gift shopping done, check out my Nashville Holiday Artisan Market Guide.
Since the holidays can be expensive we wanted the majority of the events below to have free admission or small fees while there are a couple pricier options that would make fabulous Christmas presents! Hopefully all the experiences being worth the monetary ticket value.
If you’re in the spirit of giving, there are numerous formal charitable fundraisers during the next couple months I would encourage you to check out and attend if possible, you just won’t find them listed here.
Have fun and don’t forget your cozy socks!
Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas
November 9, 2018 - January 1, 2019
Visiting Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland in the winter is a true seasonal Nashville tradition passed down through the generations. The interior lit up with more than 3 million holiday lights, elaborate festive displays, and seasonal decor makes the drive to Cabin Hill worth every minute.
Additional Gaylor Opryalnd hosts several other holiday events to all together make up A Country Christmas including visiting Santa, concerts, crafts, Cirque de Soleil’s Holidaze show, gingerbread house decorating, tubing, and ICE!
If you have never been, ICE! is amazing! Master ice sculptors from around the world carve scenes from holiday classics from more than two million pounds of ice, complete with ice slides. This year is Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Don’t worry guests are given a heavy, insulated coat before entering the 9 degrees Fahrenheit building. My personal favorite part is the annual gorgeous crystal ice nativity scene.
Tickets range from $20-45 per person, depending which events you choose to attend. Walking through the hotel’s displays is always free.
Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas | Address: 2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
November 9-11, 2018
As the largest and longest running holiday arts & craft show in Nashville, Christmas Village is a November tradition for many local families. More than 250 vendors feature a variety of seasonal and artisanal items including home decor, clothing, jewelry, food, pottery, toys and more. A great place to get your holiday gift shopping done!
Tickets can be purchased at the door, but save yourself queue time and purchase them online. Event hours are as follows:
Friday, November 9 // 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturday, November 10 // 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday, November 11 // 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.
November 10, 2018 // 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Do you enjoy supporting local artisan and food vendors? Well then Nashvember is for you! More than 60 local vendors and food trucks will be present for a day of free fun, community and seasonal cheer.
Nashvember benefits The Bridge Ministry which provides provides Nashville’s homeless with hot meals, groceries, hygiene items, and clothing, every Tuesday evening under the Jefferson Street bridge.
Making Merry Berry Hill Street Festival
November 10, 2018 // 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Wander down Bransford Avenue in Berry Hill in support of the more than 400 recording studios, retailers, music publishers, and restaurants that call the one square mile of Berry Hill home. There will be live music, local artisans, food trucks and food vendors, an egg nog drinking and pie eating contest, kids activities including face painting, Santa visits, cookie decorating and ornament-making.
The event is pet friendly and free for all to enjoy!
If you’re considering entering the contests you may also want to consider the Very Merry 5k in the morning. You know to make up for those additional calories you’ll be consuming later. :)
Making Merry Berry Hill Street Festival | Address: 2826 Bransford Ave, Nashville, TN 37204
November 14, 2018 // 7 p.m.
Hosted again by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, it’s Country Music’s Biggest Night!
I know it’s not a seasonal-focused event, but it’s something you should definitely attend in you live in Nashville at least once whether or not you enjoy country music.
The Dancing Lights of Christmas
November 16 - December 31, 2018
Drive through this lighted winter wonderland tradition in Lebanon. At 5 p.m. nightly more than one and a half million lights synchronize with a holiday music station through your car’s radio for a one-of-a-kind drive-through light experience.
Entry is $25 a car (no matter how many people you have).
The Dancing Lights of Christmas | Address: James E Ward Agricultural Center - 945 E Baddour Pkwy, Lebanon, TN 37087
MADE SOUTH Holiday Market
November 17, 2018 // 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Billed as “a 2-day celebration of the best makers, food, drink, music and art in the south,” the MADE SOUTH Holiday Market is a chance to #shopsouthern from more than 100 Southern artisans while enjoying live music and tastings.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Holiday Food Box Program at GraceWorks. Additional donations are always accepted.
General admission tickets are $15 online in advance and $20 at the door. Entry is free for children 12 and under with paying adult.
Friday preview nights tickets available online.
Drew And Ellie Holcomb's Neighborly Christmas
December 17, 2018 // 7:30 p.m.
Native Tennesseans and Americana duo, Drew and Ellie Holcomb are one of the most talented husband and wife around, and their band The Neighbors will have you singing along as they return to the Schermerhorn for their annual Christmas celebration, featuring holiday classic and favorite Holcomb tunes.
Tickets available online.
Drew And Ellie Holcomb's Neighborly Christmas | Address: Schermerhorn Symphony Center - 1 Symphony Place, Nashville, TN 37201
Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood
November 23 - December 30, 2018; Closed Christmas Day
Get in the spirit of the season with Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood. Wander the grounds illuminated by one MILLION holiday lights, see real reindeer, listen to holiday carolers, roast marshmallows, decorate gingerbread houses, get a photo by the giant Poinsettia tree, and enjoy seasonal favorites like hot chocolate and hot toddies!
Check the schedule for Santa and additional event times.
Timed-entry tickets are at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. with the event running till 9 p.m. nightly.
$19 Adult Tickets $14 Child Tickets Free for children 2 and under
Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood | @cheekwood | Address: 1200 Forrest Park Drive, Nashville, TN 37205
Handmade Nashville Holiday Market
November 24, 2018 // 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
What better way to spend Small Business Saturday then shopping small businesses? I mean it’s really the only way to celebrate, and Handmade Nashville’s vendors will be set up in Bellevue for your shopping convenience along with several local food trucks. Plus the event is pet friendly!
Handmade Nashville Holiday Market | Red Caboose Park - 684 Colice Jeanne Rd, Nashville, TN 37221
Franklin Christmas Tree Lighting on the Square
November 30, 2018 // 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Catch the holiday spirit in Downtown Franklin with music, photos with Santa, and the square’s Christmas Tree Lighting!
Franklin Christmas Tree Lighting on the Square | Address: City of Franklin - 109 3rd Avenue South, Franklin, TN 37064
The Spirit of Christmas by Vintage Market Days
November 30-December 2, 2018
This unique holiday shopping experience brings local and regional artisans together selling antiques, vintage goods, home decor, art, jewelry, clothing, homemade treats, and more. After all that shopping you’ll probably have worked up an appetite so make sure to check out the food truck pavilion.
Hours and ticket prices are as follows:
Friday & Saturday // 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. // $10 Tickets
Sunday // 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. // $5 Tickets
$5 parking per vehicle
Children 12 and under are free
Admission is good for re-entry all weekend with wristband upon exit.
The Spirit of Christmas by Vintage Market Days | Address: The Fairgrounds Nashville - 500 Wedgewood Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203
Girl Tribe Pop Up Nashville
December 1, 2018 // 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Women supporting women. It’s like Galentine’s Day come early! Shop and support women-led creative business from clothing boutiques, jewelry designers, paper goods, beauty products, and gifts galore! Plus tons of music and photo ops.
Tickets are $12 and include a cute reusable Girl Tribe bag and bracelet.
Friday preview night and VIP tickets available as well.
Nashville Christmas Parade
December 1, 2018 // 8:30 a.m.
Set up along the streets of downtown Nashville and enjoy performances by renowned musical acts, local marching bands, extravagant floats, and huge balloons as Santa Clause rolls into Nashville!
The Nashville Christmas Parade is a time-honored tradition with eat first parade happening in November of 1927.
The parade starts at 8:30 a.m. and is free. There are VIP tickets available as well.
Nashville Christmas Parade | Address: The parade starts at the corner of North 1st Ave & Brandon Street, Nashville, TN
December 1-23, 2018
Performed by the Nashville Ballet and Nashville Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic follows Clara on a journey through a dreamland filled with sugar plum fairies, nutcracker soldiers, and a mouse king.
Dates, times and tickets to their 15 performances (most 2 p.m. or 7 p.m.) are available online.
Historic Downtown Franklin Christmas Parade
December 1, 2018 // 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Marching through historic downtown Franklin to kick off the holiday season, the annual parade’s theme this year is “The Magic of Christmas,” so prepare to be amazed! Also we hear some princess have already RSVP’d!
Historic Downtown Franklin Christmas Parade | Address: The City of Franklin
Movies at the Schermerhorn: Home Alone in Concert with the Nashville Symphony
December 5-6, 2018 // 7 p.m.
Bask in the beauty of Nashville’s symphony center with a contemporary spin on the evening—the Nashville Symphony performing John WIlliams’ score while the 1990 holiday classic Home Alone plays on the big screen.
Movies at the Schermerhorn is one of my reoccurring favorite events in Nashville and is sure to create a memorable evening.
Movies at the Schermerhorn: Home Alone in Concert with the Nashville Symphony | @nashvillesymphony | Address: 1 Symphony Pl, Nashville, TN 37201
Porter Flea Holiday Market
December 8, 2018
Celebrating modern handmade goods, Porter Flea has become Nashville’s favorite pop-up event for independent designers and artists selling their quality goods everything from jewelry, art, home decor, clothing, and nifty giftys (any Office fans out there?)
Saturday, December 8 // 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Free admission, but $5 parking.
Tickets for Friday’s preview market and skip-the-line Porter Passes available online.
Santa Dash 5K Jolly Jog
December 8, 2018
Ever wonder what hundreds of jolly Santas jogging in Downtown Nashville? Well grab your friends, dress up like the big man himself, and join the party!
Registration cost is $40 in advance and $45 on race day.
Leiper’s Fork Christmas Parade
December 8, 2018 // 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
You may be wondering what could possibly make Leiper’s Fork more charming? Well the answer is the annual Christmas parade! The parade features vintage cars, beautifully decorated floats, tractors, wagons, costumes, and a procession of four-legged friends including pigs, horses, donkeys, and more. Plus what’s a Christmas parade with our Santa! Of course the big man himself will be there.
Leiper’s Fork Christmas Parade | Address: Historic Leiper’s Fork - 4142 Old Hillsboro Rd, Franklin, TN 37064
Dickens of a Christmas
December 8-9, 2018
Embrace the timeless atmosphere of Charles Dickens’ Christmases past while strolling beautiful Victoria-style Downtown Franklin. Shop local stores and artisans, encounter famous Dickens’ characters like Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and Father Christmas, and enjoy musical and dance performances, train and pony rides, and sing Christmas carols.
Victorian costumes are encouraged. Hot chocolate is available. Ugly Sweater Contest entry is optional. :)
Dates and times are as follows:
December 8 // 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
December 9 // 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Dickens of a Christmas | Address: Downtown Franklin’s Main Street
Music City Winterfest
December 8-9, 2018
Christmas is coming…fast! Holiday spirit and cheer is everywhere in the city and Centennial Park is no exception. Their holiday market features local crafters and makers, food trucks, s’more stations, pet portraits, the jolly one himself, and an event in Music City wouldn’t be complete without live music!
And if onesie brunches are your thing, tickets are available online!
Saturday, December 8 // 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunday, December 9 // 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
The Nashville Flea Market’s 'Tis the Season
December 14-16, 2018
Once a month the fairgrounds explode with roughly 2,000 booths stuffed with new, used, and repurposed items including antiques, clothing, furniture, home decor, textiles, collectibles, and more.
Admission is free, but parking is $5 per vehicle.
Friday, December 14 // 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday, December 15 // 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday, December 16 // 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
An Elvis Christmas with the Nashville Symphony
December 19 & 20, 2018 // 7:30 p.m.
Dress up and head to the symphony for an evening of gorgeous orchestral arrangements of The King’s most beloved holiday classics and hits, including Blue Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, All Shook Up, and Blue Suede Shoes. It’s sure to be a night to remember.
An Elvis Christmas with the Nashville Symphony | Address: Schermerhorn Symphony Center - 1 Symphony Place, Nashville, TN 37201
Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight: New Year’s Eve in Nashville
December 31, 2018 - January 1, 2019
Wow, that name may be longer than 2018 felt. Did the year fly by for anyone else?
Well celebrating the New Year in Nashville is exactly what you would think it would be—tons of amazing performances from local and celebrity singers and musical acts, people packed into Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, whiskey shots to keep warm, a Music Note Drop at midnight, and firework display.
Lineup to be announced.
Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight: New Year’s Eve in Nashville | @visitmusiccity | Address: 600 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville, TN 37243
December 31, 2018 // 9 p.m.
If partying outside in the cold with country music stars and 100,000+ others isn’t your bag, why not party inside with local indie rock band Moon Taxi and only 9,700 others? It’ll be a great way to usher in the New Year!
Moon Taxi | Address: Municipal Auditorium - 417 4th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219
Practice your triple axels at Centennial Sportsplex or For Ice Center. Check their schedules for public ice times. Skate rentals available at both facilities. For the past couple winters Nashville has set up several outdoor skating rinks so keep an eye open for those as well.
Take In A Local Sporting Event
Nashville is home to the NHL’s Nashville Predators, NFL’s Tennessee Titans, the SEC’s Vanderbilt Commodores, and countless more university, high school, and rec teams of every spot imaginable from baseball to roller derby.
The city also annually hosts events like the Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl (December 28, 2018). Check team calendars for current schedules.
Explore One of Nashville’s Many Museums
Escape the chill by enjoying one the city’s renowned museums. I’d recommend the Country Music Hall of Fame, The Johnny Cash Museum, First Art Museum, and Lane Motor Museum. I can’t wait to check out the new Tennessee State Museum, which just opened in early October.
Ride An Old Town Trolley
Whether you’ve lived in Nashville your whole life or are just visiting, a ride on the Old Town Trolley is informative and a great way to see the city and its many attractions when it’s too cold outside to walk.
Run A Charity 5K
It’s the season for giving so get 2-for-1 by giving back to the community and giving back to yourself by participating in a charity 5k. I included one each month above, but there are several each weekend this time of year.
Parades & Holiday Events in Middle Tennessee
This list includes some of holiday highlights, but there are way more events happening around town so check local calendars for the latest.