MY GUIDE TO CMA FEST
Attention: music festival season is among us! Stagecoach, Bonnaroo, CMA Fest, Oh My! If you've never planned a trip to Nashville during CMA Fest (or at all for that matter - see my previous post about My ULTIMATE Nashville Guide) then pay close attention - cause you're gonna wanna plan a get-away after I tell you all about CMA Fest and why it's AWESOME!
Um... What is CMA Fest anyway?
Have you been living under a rock?! (kidding... kinda.) This year marks the 46th annual festival where the BIGGEST country music stars + fans gather in Nashville for four days of non-stop concerts/events. So, if you LOVE country music, this is where you'll want to listen closely because I'm about to drop a bomb: most of the concert & events are FREE. I have your attention now, don't I?
Go on, keep reading...
BEST OF THE FEST
The Stages + Nissan Stadium + Fan Fair X & More
So, there are 6 (technically 7) Music Concert Stages located throughout downtown Nashville. Bands take the stage as early as 10am and continue throughout the day until 5pm "ish". Each stage features big names + up & coming artists. The bigger the stage the more well known the artist will be appearing on that stage. Here is a breakdown of the stages and just a few of the names you can expect to see there this year...
Chevrolet Riverfront Stage
WHERE: Downtown Nashville - 1st Avenue
WHO: Old Dominion, Joe Nichols, Eli Young Band, Neal McCoy, Josh Turner, Scotty McCreery, Cam, Parmalee, Kellie Pickler, etc. View the FULL lineup.
Budweiser Forever Country Stage
WHERE: Ascend Amphitheater ** I'm probably most excited about the stage and the lineup.
WHO: Daryl Worley, The Gatlin Brothers, Andy Griggs, Mark Chestnutt, Restless Heart, Shenendoah, Tracey Lawrence, Lonestar, etc. View the FULL line up.
Chevy Park Stage
WHERE: The Walk of Fame Park, Downtown Nashville. In front of the Hall of Fame.
WHO: Love & Theft, The Swon Brothers, Lindsay Ell, Mo Pitney, Maggie Rose, Ryan Follese, Jamie Lynn Spears, etc. View the FULL lineup.
Gildan Broadway Stage at The Hard Rock Cafe
WHERE: Um.. at the Hard Rock Cafe. ** I played this stage at CMA Fest 2015 and it's a great stage to check out. You'll see a lot of fresh, new faces that are breaking their way into the biz.
WHO: Craig Wayne Boyd, Ryan Kinder, Chris Bandi, Ashley Campbell, Natalie Stovall, etc. View the FULL lineup.
Music City Stage
WHERE: Located INSIDE the Bridgestone Arena in the Visitor's Center lobby.
WHO: Zach Seabaugh, Native Run, Megan & Liz, Shelly Fairchild, Mary Sarah, etc. View the FULL lineup.
The HGTV Lodge
This stage is free, however a wristband is required to enter. Stay connected with CMA and HGTV for chances to win wristbands. Download the CMA App for updates on how to win. Last year, Maddie & Tae did an acoustic set in the Lodge so there are some fun shows to catch there.
Other Venues in Town
There will be other venues in town offering great music as well. While these venues may be ticketed or require a cover at the door, you can be sure they will have great music. Venues such as 3rd & Lindsley, The Grand Ole Opry, and various bars and honky-tonks on Broadway.
There is one stage I haven't mentioned yet... Nissan Stadium. Unfortunately, the concerts at Nissan Stadium are NOT free and do require tickets (starting at $200+ for all 4 nights of concerts) However, you can guarantee a great show and stellar line up!
WHERE: Nissan Stadium
WHO: Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, etc. View the FULL lineup.
Fan Fair X & More
Fan Fair X is located inside of the Music City Center. Here, you can discover artist interactions, celebrity Q&A sessions and autographs. Also, various vendors will be set up to offer shopping, games, crafts and more. Fan Fair X is also home to three live music stages: the CMA Close Up Stage, Durango Music Spot, and the Radio Disney Country Stage. Fan Fair X is a ticketed event. You can purchase a $10 day pass or 4-Day pass for $25.
The City of Hope Celebrity Softball game at the Nashville Sounds Baseball stadium is a star-studded charity softball game benefiting the City of Hope cancer center. Celebrity players in the past have included Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill, Luke Bryan, and Jason Aldean. This is a ticketed event as well.
The CMT Music Awards (NOT to be confused the with CMA Awards in November) This awards show is a laid-back, super fun event presenting artists with fan-voted awards such as Music Video of the Year. Cast your VOTE here. This is a ticketed event.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED (+ What shows I'll be checking out!)
The only downfall to CMA is that is during the second week of June which only means one thing: It's going to be HOT. And, if you're planning to make an entire day out of it, you're going to want to dress appropriately (yet, stylishly of course!) especially during the day where you'll probably be walking from stage to stage. If you plan on purchasing tickets for the big Nissan Stadium shows, you can compromise 'comfort' a little more. Here are some of my favorite looks for both day & night!
Also, don't forget to throw a granola bar + a bottle of water in your bag! There will be plenty of food vendors (... and bars!) available so you'll want to be sure you HYDRATE.
CMA FEST | DAY LOOK # 1
CMA FEST | EVENING LOOK #1
CMA FEST | DAY LOOK #2
CMA FEST | EVENING LOOK #2
WHO I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING
THURSDAY: Emerson Drive, Brothers Osborne, Tracy Lawrence, Joe Nichols, and Lonestar. (PS: Yours truly will be playing at Puckett's on 6/8 at 6p - stop by and say Hi!)
FRIDAY: Corey Smith, Darryl Worley, Jo Smith, The Gatlin Brothers, Lauren Alaina, and Neal McCoy.
SATURDAY: Carly Pearce, Andy Griggs, Shelly Fairchild, Mark Chestnutt, William Michael Morgan, and Aaron Watson.
SUNDAY: Parmalee, Restless Heart, Shenandoah, Maddie & Tae, Little Texas, Collin Raye, and Easton Corbin.