Christmas is a very special time of year. Maybe it’s the beautifully decorated trees, the twinkling lights, or the smell of freshly baked cookies. There’s just something in the air. It’s a festive energy that brings brings joy and lifts the hearts of many. When I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, I found an outpouring of Christmas spirit and I didn’t have to look very far. The spirit of the season was in full force throughout the month of December. If you’re looking for things to do in Nashville at Christmas, I have lots of excellent recommendations for you. Here’s my list of Christmas events in Nashville where you’ll find epic holiday celebrations.
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Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas
Christmas in Nashville wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas. There are more than 3 million brilliant Christmas lights and sparkling decorations all over the resort property, both indoors and outdoors. The festivities begin midway through November and continue until January 1st, so there’s lots of time to plan your trip. There are numerous exciting events and activities that appeal to kids, families, and people of all ages.
When I visited Gaylord Opryland, I checked out the indoor lighting displays as well as the outdoor nativity scene. If you’re interested in visiting just for the Christmas lights and decorations, it’s free to walk around the property. Please note that it costs $29 to park your car in the self-parking section, regardless of whether you’re an overnight hotel guest or only staying for a couple of hours. This place really makes Christmas in Nashville so magical!
In true Nashville style, the indoor Christmas decorations go beyond candy canes and poinsettias. There are music notes, treble clefs, and guitars that showcase the theme of “Music City”. Of course, you’ll still find holiday favorites like nutcrackers, wreaths, and strings of lights suspended from the ceiling. I really enjoyed wandering around the tropical garden with its fountains, bridges over an indoor river, and palm trees all decorated with Christmas lights. It’s a feast for the senses and among the Christmas events in Nashville that aren’t to be missed.
If that wasn’t enough, the outdoor scene is equally as magical. There’s a gigantic Christmas tree created out of thousands of lights, along with a nativity scene with animals, angels, and Biblical characters. With both indoor and outdoor displays, it’s one of the grandest ways to celebrate Christmas in Nashville.
Beyond the Christmas decorations, Gaylord Opryland has a variety of holiday events and activities. There are ice sculptures carved from two million pounds of ice, tubing, ice skating, gingerbread house decorating, photos with Santa, Christmas fountain shows, and more. Check the Gaylord Opryland website for more details of Christmas events in Nashville. If you’re planning an overnight stay, you can book your trip to Gaylord Opryland here or check out reviews by fellow trusted travelers.
Dickens of a Christmas in Franklin, TN
Just a 20 minute drive outside of downtown Nashville, Franklin’s Dickens of a Christmas event will surely put you right in the spirit of the season. Taking place over the second weekend of December in downtown Franklin, the main street is closed off for the festivities. Using historic downtown Franklin as a backdrop, the Dickens of a Christmas festival recreates the time period of Charles Dickens. You’ll meet more than 200 characters, musicians, and dancers in Victorian costumes.
There are also 150 vendors selling crafts and artisan wares, vintage demonstrations featuring wood carving and yarn spinning, food trucks and tasty treats, and dedicated areas for photo opportunities with characters. You’ll get right into the holiday spirit by celebrating Christmas in Nashville…or Franklin!
Dickens of a Christmas is free to attend and there are several parking lots surrounding the event. Although this festival is a little bit of a drive from the city, it’s one of the Christmas events in Nashville and the region to celebrate the season.
Music City Winterfest
For another fun festival right in the heart of Nashville, check out Music City Winterfest. It happens in Centennial Park over the second weekend of December. There are tons of local small businesses selling crafts and wares, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done. With loads of local food and drink vendors, you won’t leave hungry. Sample beer, cider, and bourbon alongside kettle corn, cookie dough, and grilled cheese sandwiches. While I’m certain that there will be at least one vegan option at Winterfest, here’s a listing of vegan restaurants in Nashville should you find yourself hungry after attending.
In addition to delicious food and the winter market, there are several events at Music City Winterfest. Kids will love the bouncy houses and face painting. Adults will love the beard competition and the holiday libation bars. And people of all ages will adore the pet selfie station, the s’more station, and holiday entertainment on two stages.
I attended this event and thoroughly enjoyed walking around Centennial Park to browse the holiday market. It’s one of the best Christmas events in Nashville, so be sure to mark this one on your calendar. Music City Winterfest is free for kids aged 17 and under, and $5 for adults. Check out the official website for more details.
Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood
Cheekwood Estates and Gardens in Nashville has one of the best Christmas displays in the city, making it one of the greatest things to do in Nashville at Christmas. Over one million lights illuminate the gardens during the Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood event. You can visit every night throughout the last week of November and entire month of December (except for Christmas Day). Walk through tunnels of Christmas lights and view the gardens along a mile-long walking path.
In addition, there’s a Christmas tree comprised entirely of poinsettias (500 in total!) and the mansion will also be fully decorated. There are also chances for the kids to meet Santa, listen to holiday carolers, and savor hot beverages to warm up after your stroll. While I haven’t had the chance to visit myself, it’s one of the most awesome Christmas events in Nashville and I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes. For ticket information, check out the official website.
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
It wouldn’t feel like Christmas without a Christmas tree! Attend Nashville’s official tree lighting ceremony at Public Square Park. It’s free and festive fun for the whole family. There are performances by local choirs, a live broadcast from Mix 92.9FM, and Santa will be there, too. There’s also a toy drive at the tree lighting ceremony in partnership with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. Please consider bringing an unwrapped, new toy as a donation to a needy child.
Thinking about warming yourself up with a caffeinated beverage after celebrating Christmas in Nashville at any of these activities or events? Check out my list of the best coffee shops in Nashville.
Have you visited any Christmas events in Nashville? If you know about even more Christmas things to do in Nashville, please let me know in the comments! Looking for a place to stay? The SoBro Guest House was my home away from home for three nights. Feeling more like a boutique apartment than a hotel, SoBro Guest House combines the best of both worlds. Right in the middle of downtown, I was able to walk all over town to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. It’s only three blocks away from the Lower Broad Entertainment District and several local hot spots. Please check out the trusted reviews of other travellers for more information.