10 Things to Do in Nashville at Christmas

Nashville is a festive city at any time of the year, but during the Christmas season it brings out its attributes to make Christmas Eve magical: with snow, colored lights and shows, the capital of Tennessee offers an unmissable show.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

9 min read

10 Things to Do in Nashville at Christmas

Christmas in Nashville | ©Tim Hoeflich

If you plan to visit Nashville in December you will find cold weather, heavy snowfall and frequent rain, but also a magical Christmas scene full of shows, musical concerts, light shows and parades that make the city the epicenter of Christmas in the southern United States.

Among the best things to do in Nashville at Christmas time are enjoying the traditional parade, experiencing the GLOW Festival light show, marveling at the caroling street shows, attending a concert by the city's Symphony Orchestra and having breakfast with Santa Claus at Opry Mills, a plan that will be ideal if you plan to visit Nashville with children.

1. Attend a Christmas Concert at the Ryman Auditorium

Ryman Auditorium| ©Reading Tom
Ryman Auditorium| ©Reading Tom

The Ryman Auditorium is one of Nashville's most traditional venues. For more than 50 years, it was the site of the live broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry, and today it is the site of choice for Southern music shows. Every year during the Christmas season, the auditorium also organizes Christmas concerts.

From country music shows to ballet shows, the auditorium organizes its calendar full of Christmas offers, which you can also enjoy with your family or children. If you are a theater buff, you can also enjoy Christmas-themed plays by local artists at the auditorium.

Please note that if you want to attend a show at the Ryman Auditorium you must book in advance on the official website, as the events organized there are among the most visited in Nashville in December and during Christmas.

Details of interest

  • Price... Tickets for the shows have a starting cost of approximately 31 euros.
  • Where.... 116 5th Ave N, Nashville.
  • Please note... You'll need to book in advance, as Ryman Auditorium events are among the most visited in the city.

Book a self-guided experience at the Ryman Auditorium

2. Visit the Gaylord Opryland Resort's holiday exhibits

Christmas at the Gaylord Opryland Resort| ©Dave Lanz
Christmas at the Gaylord Opryland Resort| ©Dave Lanz

The Gaylord Opryland Resort is a year-round headliner in Nashville with its activities and show-filled calendar, and Christmastime is no exception. Beginning in mid-November, the hotel becomes a permanent fixture for local families as it sets up holiday displays in its front courtyard topped with more than 3 million sparkling lights.

Gaylord Opryland's spectacle reaches its peak each year on the Friday before Christmas, when the displays close with concerts, holiday movie series, ice skating and snow tubing activities and tours of the hotel's garden, which you can enjoy in its splendor if you visit Nashville in April during the spring.

Gaylord Opryland Resort is located just outside the city, so you can get there by public transportation on the 34 bus or the Nashville Sightseeing Bus.

Details of Interest

  • Price... Admission to the holiday exhibits is free.
  • When... Every year from mid-November through the Friday before Christmas.
  • Where... 2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville.

Book a ride on the Nashville Sightseeing Bus

3. Enjoy the Nashville Christmas Parade

Nashville Christmas Parade| ©Piedmont Natural Gas
Nashville Christmas Parade| ©Piedmont Natural Gas

For nearly 100 years the Nashville Christmas Parade has been one of the city's traditional December events. This parade of floats and costumes begins on December 24 in the morning and runs the entire length of North 1st Ave from Brandon Street well into the afternoon.

This Christmas event is known in Nashville as the Rudolph's Red Nose Parade, as the endless column of more than 100 floats is always led by a structure of Santa's most famous reindeer. In addition, the parade also includes concerts and musical performances, food booths and trucks, the participation of artists at the opening and closing and entertainment for children.

You can watch the parade for free from the sites located on the sides of the street or also buy VIP tickets, which have an initial cost of approximately 30 euros and will allow you to follow the shows closely. If you want to opt for these tickets you must book in advance as it is one of the best attractions in Nashville and they sell out quickly.

During the parade you will also be able to enjoy the giant Christmas trees installed by the cultural and commercial centers on the sides of the floats and the Christmas decorations in the shops.

Details of interest

  • Price... The show is free and tickets to the VIP boxes have an initial cost of approximately 30 euros per person.
  • Where... The parade runs along North 1st Ave from Brandon Street.
  • Please note... If you would like to purchase VIP box tickets, you will need to book in advance.

4. Experience the GLOW Festival Light Show

Nashville Christmas Lights| ©Julie's Digital Photo Art
Nashville Christmas Lights| ©Julie's Digital Photo Art

One of Nashville's great traditions during Christmas Eve is to host light shows and the GLOW Festival, which takes place a few days before December 24 each year, makes the Fontanel Scenic Trail in Whites Creek, a county just outside of Nashville, sparkle.

This trail of lights gets bigger every year and consists of more than 5,000 lanterns placed in the bushes and on the main stage. The lights form Christmas figures as well as a giant Christmas tree in the center that is covered in snow, making a visit to Whites Creek one of the best things to do in Nashville during the winter

This holiday extravaganza also includes activities for kids such as ice skating rinks, Santa encounters, winter treat and drink sales, and Nashville's best scenery for taking Christmas photos.

In Nashville there are many light shows during Christmas, but the GLOW Festival is traditionally the most summoning, the most famous and the most representative of the city, so if you plan to spend Christmas Eve in the capital of Tennessee I advise you not to miss this show.

Details of interest

  • Price... Tickets have an initial cost of approximately 15 euros per person.
  • When... It is organized every year a few days before December 24.
  • Where... Fontanel, Whites Creek.

5. Experience Christmas with the Christmas carol street shows

Christmas in Centennial Park,| ©Celtic Graphics
Christmas in Centennial Park,| ©Celtic Graphics

During Christmas, as in every season of the year, Nashville offers a lot of shows, concerts and musical shows, but if you are on a tight budget or just want to opt for a less elaborate plan you can attend the city's street shows, which on Christmas Eve are highlighted by Christmas carols.

The best street shows can be found on the sidewalks of the honky tonks of Broadway Avenue or in the areas near Centennial Park, although to a lesser extent you will see artists in all the streets and in all the parks and squares. In addition, you can combine these shows with Nashville tours or food tours of the city

The caroling shows are free, although the performers often ask for a fee at will. Some bars also host shows at their entrances in exchange for food that will later be donated to charity or charge a small entrance fee for charity.

Details of interest

  • Price... Tickets to discotheques for Christmas parties have an initial cost of approximately 18 euros.
  • When... They are organized in December, especially during the early hours of New Year's Eve.
  • Where... In different parts of the city.
  • Please note... To be able to enter the discotheques you must be over 21 years old.

6. Attend a Christmas party

Christmas Party| ©picjumbo.com
Christmas Party| ©picjumbo.com

Nashville can be a magical city for children during Christmas but also for adults, as both in the run-up to December 24 and on New Year's Eve in the capital of Tennessee there are many parties for those over 21, some of them them themed or costume parties.

Most of the parties are organized downtown, in nightclubs or in bars that close for the occasion and only allow admission for people who bought a ticket in advance and others, such as Crown on Ninth, remain open to the public until the places are sold out.

If you're in the mood for some Christmas Eve fun and want to get out of the main circle of parades, light shows and carol concerts, Nashville's holiday festivities are a great place to relax and enjoy an alternative profile of the city.

7. Breakfast with Santa at Opry Mills

Santa Claus with a little girl| ©gardener41
Santa Claus with a little girl| ©gardener41

Opry Mills is one of Nashville's largest and most famous shopping malls, and a week before Christmas Eve it hosts an event for kids where they can have breakfast with Santa Claus, take pictures with him as he reads letters with their orders, compete in games and activities for kids, and participate in drawings for goodie bags.

In addition, during the day of Breakfast with Santa, Opry Mills offers discounts on Christmas gifts and organizes activities for the whole family.

The event takes place at Rainforest Cafe and is free, although you can also purchase seats near Santa for breakfast.

If you would like to attend Breakfast with Santa, all you have to do is come to the mall on the day of the event and participate in the activities. The breakfast only lasts 2 hours, so it is a plan that you can do even if you have a short stay in the city planned, as it will not take you much time. If that is your case, here is a list of activities you can do to discover Nashville in 2 days.

Interesting details

  • Price... Admission to the activities is free, although you can buy the seats closest to Santa Claus for breakfast.
  • When... Every year one week before Christmas Eve.
  • Where... 433 Opry Mills Dr, Nashville.

8. Attend the Nashville Symphony Christmas concerts

Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville.| ©Michael Li
Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville.| ©Michael Li

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center is home to the Nashville Symphony and each year in December hosts Christmas concerts featuring local and international artists. The shows feature dancers, Broadway singers and other stars of the U.S. arts scene.

The local Symphony's Christmas concerts are among Nashville's busiest events during Christmas and is an alternative plan to escape the interactive activities with Santa Claus and the proposals in the downtown area, which fills up during Christmas Eve, as the Schermerhorn Symphony Center is located on the outskirts of the city.

Each year there are usually several concerts, so you can get tickets once you arrive in town, but I advise that if you want to attend Nashville Symphony shows you book in advance.

Details of interest

  • Price... Tickets to the concerts have a starting cost of approximately 40 euros per person.
  • When... In December during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
  • Where... 1 Symphony Pl, Nashville.

9. Enjoy the traditional Opry Country Christmas

Grand Ole Opry| ©Don Sniegowski
Grand Ole Opry| ©Don Sniegowski

At nearly 100 years old, the Grand Ole Opry is America' s oldest country music radio show and an inseparable tradition in Nashville's history. The program is broadcast live from the Opryland Theater once a week and attracts a large number of listeners and attendees. During the Christmas season, Opry Country Christmas is also held.

This country music event is held during the two weeks prior to Christmas and features the best artists of the genre and guests from the national scene. It is one of the most traditional Christmas activities in the city and also a reference in the southern United States.

In Nashville it is very common for all the traditional shows to propose themed show offers during Christmas, but the original tradition of that in the city started with the Opry Country Christmas, so the Grand Ole Opry, besides being one of the best Christmas events, is also the first one.

Tickets for the Grand Ole Opry Christmas shows go on sale every year starting in November and usually sell out quickly, so if you want to attend this event I advise you to book early.

Details of interest

  • Price... Tickets to attend the live Christmas radio show have an initial cost of approximately 38 euros.
  • Duration... The show lasts approximately 3 hours.
  • Where... 2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville.

10. Enjoy Christmas dinner with the Oak Ridge Boys

Oak Ridge Boys| ©Kurt Ockelmann
Oak Ridge Boys| ©Kurt Ockelmann

The Gaylord Opryland Hotel hosts an annual Christmas dinner on the evening of Dec. 24 with entertainment by the Oak Ridge Boys, a classic country and gospel band representing Southern genres since the 1940s with different combinations of members.

This dinner is an excellent opportunity if you plan to spend Christmas in Nashville and have no one to share the Christmas toast with or if you plan to travel with your family, as it is an entertaining show and a local tradition that year after year hundreds of diners from the city participate in.

Tickets for the dinner have an initial cost of approximately 45 euros, consist of a set menu and after the show a party is organized until the early hours of the morning, so if you are looking for fun on New Year's Eve you can also find it at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel dinner.

Details of interest

  • Price... A ticket for the dinner and show has a starting cost of approximately 45 euros per person.
  • When... Every year on the night of December 24.
  • Where... 2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville.