First Saturday Downtown Art Crawl
Latin Grammy Nomination Concert, White Panda Concert
American Music Festival
Nashville Country Music Marathon
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Hot Chicken Festival
American Artisan Festival
Tennessee Renaissance Festival
Shakespeare in the Park
The following are some recommended summer events. Some of the events will be taking place after you first-years arrive for orientation (some event continue into the fall), and some are earlier summer events that you should keep in mind for next year!
This free event is held in Centennial Park in mid-June, usually over Father’s day weekend. Some 160 artists from around the country are carefully selected to represent their areas of expertise which include: blown, stained, and etched glass; furniture, instruments, and clocks; wall hangings, weavings, and baskets; jewelry; decorative clay pieces; and quilts. Live music and a variety of foods will be available in the park.
Arrive early at Beachhaven Vineyards and Winery with your picnic and lawn chairs to get a good spot. Admission and parking are free, but you are encouraged to purchase a bottle of Beachaven wine to enjoy with the music. The music begins at 6:30 pm and runs until 9:30pm.
Another free outdoor movie option held at dusk in the parking lot behind the Belcourt Theatre. The 2013 lineup features Clash of the Titans, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup.
2nd Saturday of June-September
Each Saturday night in the summer is a free night of big band jazz music and a swinging dance floor at Centennial Park. A different band plays each week from 7-10pm, and a different ballroom dance class (swing dancing, Polka, etc) is taught each Saturday from 7-7:30pm and 8:30-9pm. There are usually dancers of all ages, and if you don’t want to dance, you are welcome to watch and listen.
Saturdays in the summer (June-August)
Centennial Park Band Shell
Held in Manchester, TN (about 65 miles from Nashville), this three-day camping festival has grown to become one of the nation’s most well-known and well-attended music festivals. It features an eclectic mix of music with 150 performances on 10+ stages. There’s a variety of other activities like a silent disco, movie theater tent, comedy theatre, yoga, and beer (Broo’ers) festival. Pack your camping gear and leave early for this event—it is notorious for its traffic problems as well as its muddy fields—but for those who love live music, this is the ultimate weekend. Rolling Stone Magazine called Bonnaroo “The American rock festival to end all festivals.”
CMA Music Festival delivers the full range of concert experiences with equal parts nighttime fireworks and daytime sizzle. While the evening concerts at LP Field provide full-tilt excitement, the Daytime Stages offer a more intimate setting for daylong, nonstop music from your favorite hit makers in Downtown Nashville. Listen to both up-and-coming artists as well as country music superstars!
(June 6-9, 2013)
LP Field and downtown
These family-friendly fundraisers feature Middle Tennessee’s finest bluegrass music under the light of a full moon. Pickers form circles under the trees and around the grounds performing and jamming while several headliners are featured on stage. Admission is $5 if you bring an instrument and $20 otherwise. Food is available for purchase, and beverages are included in the ticket price.
May through October (once per month)
Equestrian Barn at 2500 Old Hickory Blvd
This annual Nashville event centers around a series of horse races in Percy Warner Park, but includes a weekend of parties and fundraisers to benefit the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital. The actual event is generally a day of tailgating, BBQ, and socializing in the fields around the racetrack. Reserve a tailgating spot with up to 16 friends, pack the cooler, and wear your derby hats. Alcoholic beverages are allowed, but glass and kegs are not. If you’re lucky, you may even catch one of the races.
May (May 11, 2013)
Percy Warner Park
Historic Jefferson Street keeps the tradition alive with its annual Jazz and Blues Festival, sponsored by the Tennessee Jazz and Blues Society. The festival contains a full day of music and great food and is located in a superb shopping district.
June (one Saturday)
Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park
Bring your picnic dinner or take out from the food trucks parked nearby and save your space on the lawn to watch a free outdoor movie on Wednesday nights at dusk.
Wednesdays in June
Percy Werner Park
The biggest blues festival in the area, Music City Blues is held on Memorial Day weekend. The Web site also offers information on clubs, bands, and local blues-related volunteer opportunities.
Memorial Day Weekend
A two-day free event featuring food, musical performances by various artists, and an amazing fireworks show accompanied by the Nashville Symphony.
July 3rd and 4th
Music in the Vines is a free, live outdoor jazz event at the scenic Arrington Vineyards, featuring local musicians and award-winning wines (complimentary wine tasting in the evening). There’s plenty of seating on the deck, patio, and courtyard, so come with friends and bring a picnic meal.
April-December (Saturdays in April and December, Friday through Sunday in May to November)
This day-long event, which aims to educate and celebrate the LGBT people and culture of Middle TN, features plenty of live entertainment, art, food, and fun. There’s a Pre-Party during the week leading up to the festival and an Equality Walk the morning of.
Riverfront Park, Downtown
Nashville Songwriter’s Festival features three days of songwriter performances and a three day “writer’s retreat.” Writers from novice to professional come from all over America and Canada to gather and share their talents in all genres of songwriting.
May 30-June 2, 2013
This festival celebrates two Southern traditions, Moon Pies and RC cola, in the historic town of Bell Buckle, TN. It features a 10 mile run, games, contests, cloggers, country and bluegrass music, food, arts and crafts, the “Synchronized Wading Extravaganza,” the crowning of the RC and Moon Pie King and Queen, and the cutting of the largest Moon Pie ever.
June (one Saturday)
Bell Buckle, TN
These Shakespeare performances are staged on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at 7:30pm, free of charge. Bring a picnic and come early for the pre-performance entertainment at 6:30. The 2013 festival features A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Thursday–Sunday evenings, August–September
Centennial Park Band Shell
Held about once a month, these free, family focused events are a great way to spend a relaxing Saturday evening. Pack a picnic and your favorite blanket or lawn chair, buy a bottle of Sumner Crest wine for the evening, sit back and enjoy the music. The lineup features a variety of music including soul and R&B performances.
Saturdays, summer–early fall
Sumner Crest Winery
Held 25 miles south of Nashville at the Village of Covington Glen, this festival showcases the arts, food, music, and games of 16th century England complete with a castle. Each weekend features a different theme such as Romance, Pirate Invasion, and a Jousting Tourney.
Weekends in May
2124 New Castle Road, Arrington
Sponsored by the African American Cultural Alliance (AACA), this phenomenal free festival attracts more than 100,000 people interested in African and African American culture. The festival has expanded this year to also feature the cultures of the Caribbean, North, Central, and South America, and other places around he world where Africa is represented. It features food, music, dance, storytelling, arts and crafts, fashion shows, and seminars.
September 20-22, 2013
Hadley Park State
A day of “ beer sippin’, bourbon tastin’, music listenin’, cigar smokin’, and barbeque eatin’.” There’s a selection of more than 60 types of beers, 40 bourbons, and lots of bbq, with live entertainment. Your admission ($35 if purchased in advance, buy early b/c it sold out last year) gets you a sampling glass, which enables you to enjoy “all you care to taste” of beer and bourbon.
November 2, 2013
Nashville Municipal Auditorium
This festival showcases the cultural diversity of Middle Tennessee (more than 50 cultures) via music, dancing, arts and crafts, food, storytellers, and an international market. Free admission. Past festivals have included line dancers, tribal belly dancing, and gypsy jazz.
October 5, 2013
Come tour this authentic Greek church and sample the dance, food, and pastries of the Greek culture.
September 6-8, 2013
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Franklin Pike
A massive party featuring over 80 beers for sampling that you won’t want to miss. This festival celebrates great craft beer, beer education, food, and more.
October 5, 2013
Public Square Park, Downtown
Nashville’s oldest and largest cultural festival. It incorporates the original Oktoberfest festival with the diversity now found in Germantown Nashville. Held in the historic Germantown neighborhood of Nashville, on 7th Avenue North and Monroe Street between the historic churches of Assumption Catholic Church and Monroe Street United Methodist Church (which you can tour during the event), this festival includes authentic German food and beverages, live German musical performances, arts and crafts, antiques, the pooch parade (dogs strutting their stuff in costume), and the 5K Bier Run.
October 12, 2013
Come to taste and buy delicious cheeses from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. You can also sample and buy local jams, honey, cured meats, bread, crackers, and pickles to pair with your cheese.
Nashville Farmer’s Market
More than 200 artists converge on the Centennial Park lawn to share and sell their handmade art. In addition to browsing and shopping, visitors can enjoy food from local vendors, live music, and instructional demonstrations from artists.
September 27-29, 2013
2013 will be the 107th year for the Tennessee State Fair, which showcases the culture of the entire state of Tennessee with lots of food, rides, competitions, and live performances. Last year’s fair had Celebrity Cow Milking, the Fairest of the Fair’s Beauty Pageant, Cornhole Championships, an Ice Cream Eating Contest, a Hula Hoop Contest, Karaoke Showdown, plus much more.
September 6-15, 2013
Tennessee State Fairgrounds