Nashville, Tennessee is becoming a must-see destination for travelers from all over the world.
While famous for its music and hot chicken, the city offers a ton of great things to do around Christmastime.
If you’re considering coming to Nashville this Christmas season, be sure to check out these 10 things to do to help make your holiday visit merry and bright!
1. Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens
The Cheekwood Botanical Gardens offer an escape into nature while still in the heart of the city, affording guests the opportunity to walk the beautifully manicured gardens and soak in the history of the Cheekwood mansion turned museum and art gallery.
At Christmastime, Cheekwood becomes a Christmas wonderland at night for groups of friends, families, and lovebirds alike.
In the evenings, you can stroll the gardens and delight in the beautifully ornate Christmas lights decorating the grounds.
In addition, you can feel the Christmas magic through meeting live reindeer, sipping hot chocolate and other wintery treats, roasting s’mores, and seeking out the best selfie spot along your magical stroll.
2. A Country Christmas at the Gaylord Opryland Resort
I know hanging out in a hotel can seem odd if you aren’t staying there, but the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville is a unique place enjoyed by both locals and tourists at Christmastime.
Plus, you can have an enjoyable evening experiencing much of what this hotel has to offer for free, without needing a room key!
Thousands visit each year simply just to wander through the giant indoor atriums and experience their gardens, river, shops, and restaurants all covered in whimsical Christmas lights (over 3 million lights, the hotel touts), trees, and decorations.
The hotel also has a beautiful outdoor life-size nativity scene as well at the main entrance. For a nice date night, I recommend dining at the Old Hickory Steakhouse inside the Delta Atrium if you are in the mood to splurge.
In addition to exploring the Christmas lights, the hotel offers many fun Christmas activities each year, including:
- Romantic carriage and river boat rides
- Ice tube slides
- Christmas concert dinner shows
- Ice skating and ice bumper cars
- Pictures with Santa
- Gingerbread house decorating
3. Historic Downtown Franklin
There are many wonderful small towns on the outskirts of Nashville, but Franklin perhaps tops them all.
Especially at Christmas, walking on Main Street in Franklin’s historic downtown reminds you of the quaint settings of any Hallmark Christmas movie.
Founded in 1799, this historic downtown provides a plethora of small-town shops, restaurants, dessert options, and Civil War history that will make an afternoon of exploring anytime of the year.
However, at Christmas, Main Street comes alive with Christmas lights and a giant Christmas tree in the town square that will really get you into that feel-good Christmas spirit.
Each December, the city of Franklin hosts Dickens of a Christmas, an open-air main street pedestrian-friendly festival and Christmas market with food, artisan vendors, entertainment, music, and fun for the whole family.
Based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, you’ll feel like you’ve walked into 1800s London and may run into Ebenezer Scrooge himself.
4. Christmas Shows at the Ryman or Grand Ole Opry
A visit to Nashville wouldn’t be complete without attending a Christmas concert at the city’s two most iconic venues.
The Ryman Auditorium is often called the Mother Church of Country Music and sits in the heart of downtown Nashville, next to Broadway and all of Nashville’s famous honky-tonks. The original home of the Grand Ole Opry for many years, the Ryman was initially built as a tabernacle for church revivals and current-day concert goers still sit in pews surrounded by stained glass windows.
The Grand Ole Opry is the more modern home for the longtime country music concert series and is located next to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel as well as all the shops, restaurants and entertainment options that make the Opryland area a tourist haven
5. Lighting of the Green at Lipscomb University
Each December, Lipscomb University hosts its Christmas tree lighting ceremony on campus.
Recent years have included free concerts by Nashville music legend Amy Grant and other friends, as well as the Lipscomb student choirs. Get into the local holiday spirit and up close and personal with Nashville artists and musicians in the process.
6. Nashville’s Holiday Pop-up Bars
Nashville is famous for its rooftop bars and lively lounges throughout the city. These places get into the holiday spirit each year, and yuletide-themed pop-up bars abound.
I personally recommend the heated igloos on the rooftop bar of the Bobby Hotel for a unique experience – be sure to reserve your igloo in advance!
7. Christmas with the Nashville Symphony
Nashville is privileged with a world-class symphony performing concerts throughout the year in the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center, located in the heart of downtown.
At Christmastime, the symphony hosts a variety of holiday-themed performances.
You’ll want to check out their Music City Christmas performance, which is an annual tradition filled with Broadway singers, dancers, and the symphony orchestra.
In addition, the symphony often will show a classic Christmas movie each year and perform its score live while the movie plays on screen, making for a unique way to watch some of your favorite must-see holiday films.
8. Christmas at Nashville’s Historic Homes & Mansions
A city rich in history, Nashville boasts a number of historic homes and mansions. Come December, many of these homes add a festive Christmas flair to their beauty and history, allowing visitors to step back in time to experience what Christmas once was like in these stately homes.
Here are a few homes in the area that really get into the Christmas spirit:
- The Hermitage (President Andrew Jackson’s home)
- Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery
- Belmont Mansion
- Historic Rock Castle
- Oaklands Mansion
9. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Holiday Performances
If you are a big fan of the theater, be sure to check out TPAC’s annual lineup of Christmas plays and performances. The Nutcracker, A Christmas Story, and A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage are some examples of Christmas plays in recent years.
I personally loved A Christmas Story, as the performance is in an intimate setting where the actors engage the audience and even invite some audience participation in part of the show!
With TPAC located downtown, you can make an evening of it eating at one of Nashville’s tasty restaurants in the Germantown or Downtown neighborhoods before your show.
10. Christmas Cruises on the General Jackson Showboat
Each Christmas season, the General Jackson Showboat provides fine dining combined with a Broadway-style Christmas musical production at its Victorian-style theater.
While enjoying the show, you can experience beautiful views of Nashville and a unique slice of history as you cruise down Tennessee’s Cumberland River on a day or evening riverboat cruise.
The boat docks out of Opryland, so you’ll already be close to all this tourist-friendly area has to offer.
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Did we miss any of your favorite things to do in Nashville at Christmas?
Let us know in the comments so we can add more to the list!