Festivals in Nashville
There is a lot more to Nashville than just country music and cowboy hats. Here is just a selection of monthly activities that showcase Nashville’s vibrant food, music, and culture.
January - New Year’s Eve Celebration
Celebrate the New Year in Nashville! This year, the celebration moved to Bicentennial Park. Over 100,000 people came out to see fireworks and a free concert headlined by Keith Urban.
February - Downtown Art Crawl
The first Saturday of each month is an opportunity to see local Nashville art displayed throughout downtown Nashville. Remember to bring your ID! Most places provide free wine and cheese while you marvel at the local art.
March - Nashville Chili Festival
Do you share want to share your family’s secret chili recipe with fellow Nashvillians, or do you want to eat chili until you’re red in the face? Every March at the Basement East you have the opportunity to compete or partake in the Nashville chili competition.
April - March for Science
This April 22nd, in solidarity with an international movement, a March for Science will be taking place in downtown Nashville to demonstrate the public’s desire for continued science funding. Political leaders in Nashville, including Dean Jeff Balser and Representative Jim Cooper, have voiced their opposition to the proposed NIH budget cuts.
May - Taco Festival
Tacos, Tacos, and more Tacos!!! Add a dollop of Chihuahua costume contest and a collection of hot peppers; there is something for everyone. Additionally, there will be a mechanical bull, live music, and salsa dancing at this festival in the Nissan Stadium parking lot.
June - CMA Fest and Bonaroo
The 2nd weekend in June marks the global music pilgrimage to middle Tennessee. There will be free country music throughout the weekend played on multiple stages throughout downtown Nashville. Each night, country music’s biggest stars will sell out Nissan Stadium. 70 miles south, on a farm in Manchester, Tennessee, you can experience one of the biggest outdoor music festivals, Bonnaroo. Attendees camp out while they experience music that spans all genres. This year, expect to hear U2 play “Joshua Tree” in its entirety to honor the 30th anniversary of the release of their most famous album.
July - Hot Chicken Festival
Going on its 11th year, the best way to celebrate the Fourth of July in Nashville is by sampling of hot chicken. This festival is a great way to experience the multitude of different Nashville hot chicken restaurants without driving around town. Complete with live music, local craft beers, and a hot chicken parade, what’s not to love about celebrating America’s birthday with Nashville’s hottest food?
August - East Nashville Tomato Art Festival
Tomato-based street art from local artists, food trunks using tomatoes in inventive ways, and even a tomato-based Yazoo beer are some of the many highlights from this two-day festival best enjoyed with friends. Stop at Five Points Pizza for some awesome garlic knots, and come home with an incredibly bizarre piece of tomato art.
September - Live on the Green
Nashville alternative radio station, Lightning 100, has been putting on a regular free concert in Public Square Park for the past seven years. During Labor Day weekend, the concern series culminates with a free three-day music festival. I have had the fortune of seeing great acts like Matt and Kim, Allen Stone, Andra Day, and Rodrigo y Gabriela all for free on beautiful Nashville evenings.
October - Oktoberfest
One of Nashville’s more historic neighborhoods celebrates its history with steins filled with German Beer, Bavarian music, and schnitzel. Bring your Lederhosen and enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon roaming the Germantown streets.
November - Nashville Science Club
Speakers from many different scientific areas, from researchers at Vanderbilt to zookeepers to climate change lawyers, share their fields’ current challenges at one of Nashville local breweries on the second of Tuesday of every month. It’s a great way to get connected in the Nashville science community and see what science activities are happening in Middle Tennessee.
December - Lights at the Gaylord Hotel
Nashville’s largest hotel, mall, and convention center combo throws an impressive holiday show with a copious amount of lights. Go with a group of your friends or loved ones to celebrate the holiday spirit.