Thanks to iconic music such as the CMA Music Festival and Bonnaroo, summer is peak travel season for Nashville. But as the temperatures drop (sort of), visitors will find plenty to do in fall and winter while enjoying smaller crowds and lower humidity. Here’s a roundup of “must-sees” in Music City between September and December.
Americana Music Festival: September 17–20
It may not be as well-known as other music festivals, but for fans of the genre, this is the best week of the year in Nashville. In 2014, there will be more than 165 live performances of the alt-country-folk Americana sound that has helped make Nashville as popular as ever. Performances take place at nine venues across town. Wristbands are available to enjoy it all at one low price, with shuttles that will take you from venue to venue.
Southern Artisan Cheese Festival: September 27
Nashville’s food scene is increasingly fueled by a collection of foodies making and growing great ingredients. This annual event, held in the historic Neuhoff Building, celebrates our favorite dairy product and also includes cured meats, jams, breads, crackers, pickles, and more for the tasting. Emphasis is placed on small batch cheese.
Music City Yoga Festival: October 4
There are more yoga studios in Nashville than you can count, offering everything from acro-yoga to paddleboard yoga. On one day each year they all come together so the public can try a variety of styles and practices. They day-long event is a fund raiser for the Africa Yoga Project and the local Small World Yoga, which both work to improve access to yoga for a variety of communities.
Tennessee Craft: September 27–28
Known as TACA, this crafts fair isn’t your normal beaded friendship bracelet kind of thing. More than 200 artists are selected by jury to present their fine works. You’ll find jewelry, painting, ceramics, and many other media on display here, as well as food and activities to keep the kids busy. Held in Centennial Park, this is not a place to expect a bargain, but you may find a work of art you’ll keep for years.
Gospel Music Association Dove Awards: October 7
Gospel music’s biggest night is held in Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the awards, honoring the best in Christian and gospel music of all genres.
Southern Festival of Books: October 10–12
Authors from all around the South have descended on Nashville on the second weekend in October since 1989. That’s the traditional date of Humanities Tennessee’s Southern Festival of Books. Meet the names behind your favorite reads and listen to them tell stories and talk about their craft. The event, which is held downtown in War Memorial Plaza, is free and open to the public.
A Country Christmas: November 14–January 3
Tourists flock to Nashville during the December holidays to see the Gaylord Opryland Resort alight for the season. The resort’s festivities include a magnificent Christmas lighting ceremony, performances by the Rockettes in a Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and ICE!, a walk-through story told through carved ice. The theme for 2014 is “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Music City Bowl: December 30
This college football bowl game has become one of the city’s biggest winter events, It pits a Southeastern Conference team against a Big Ten rival in a game that is nationally televised from LP Field (home of the Tennessee Titans). The festivities typically include a free concert downtown on the night before and a parade of the collegiate athletes.