The Ultimate Guide To Festive Fun in Nashville This Christmas

Discover the magic of Music City during the holidays with our list of top activities, from dazzling light displays to iconic Christmas shows in Nashville.

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

December 11, 2023

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Holiday LIGHTS. Photo by Nathan Zucker. Courtesy of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.

The fact that Nashville has emerged as a top domestic tourist hotspot in recent years is no surprise. Boasting a continually growing culinary scene, an abundance of live music, thrilling sports events, and more, Nashville offers a constant array of activities. This holds especially true during the Christmas season.

If Music City is on your radar for the 2023 holiday season, this list is your ultimate guide when crafting your itinerary. From mesmerizing light exhibits to festive shows at renowned venues, discover Nashville’s finest Christmas activities to partake in.

Holiday LIGHTS 2022. Photo by Nathan Zucker. Courtesy of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.
Holiday LIGHTS 2022. Photo by Nathan Zucker. Courtesy of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.

Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood 

Now – Jan. 7, 2024 5pm-10 pm

Cheekwood’s Holiday LIGHTS is a Music City holiday staple, and it’s back and bigger than ever. The exhibition showcases one million lights presented through breathtaking displays throughout the grounds of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. In addition to a one-mile walking path through the gardens, guests can enjoy warm drinks, adult beverages, s’mores, and more. This activity is perfect for families, couples, friends, and more. 

“This year’s Holiday LIGHTS is brighter than ever,” Cheekwood President and CEO Jane MacLeod, shared. “Each year we add a little something new, while still offering the traditional displays our guests have come to know and love. An equally festive experience awaits guests inside the historic Mansion where this year’s theme of candy canes and gingerbread will bring cheer to visitors of all ages.”

Tip: Late Night Lights provides a reduced ticket rate for individuals interested in enjoying the exhibits during the later hours. The Gardens Only passes, priced at $20 per person, grant entry at 8:30 p.m. or later from Monday through Thursday.

More info HERE.

Nashville's Nutcracker
Nashville’s Nutcracker

Nashville’s Nutcracker

Now – December 24

Drawing inspiration from the 2020 Emmy Award-winning film and hailed as the Best Dance Production of 2022 by Broadway World Nashville, this stands as the must-attend holiday spectacle in Nashville. A distinct Nashville Ballet interpretation of the timeless classic, Nashville’s Nutcracker showcases original choreography by Artistic Director Emeritus Paul Vasterling, captivating costumes and sets, live music performed by the Nashville Symphony, and an abundance of holiday enchantment for the entire family to revel in!

More info HERE.

Zoolumination; Photo Courtesy Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
Zoolumination; Photo Courtesy Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

Zoolumination: Chinese Festival of Lights

Now – Jan. 7, 2024 5-9pm (+ Thurs. to Sun. Jan. 11, 2024 to Feb. 4, 2024)

The largest Chinese lantern festival in the United States is right here in Nashville! Zoolumination: Chinese Festival of Lights at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere features 1,000 custom-made silk lanterns. The walkthrough experience includes whimsical scenes throughout the zoo as well as a North Pole Village where Santa will visit each night Nov. 24 to Dec. 24. Chinese acrobats and entertainers perform nightly at 6:00, 7:00 and 8:00 pm at the Amphitheater.

Tip: While most of the zoo animals will be sleeping at night, arrive before 8:30 pm to see the Sumatran tiger and flamingos. 

More info HERE

Dancing Lights of Christmas

Now – Dec. 31, 2023 

This drive-thru light show is a must-see! The Dancing Lights of Christmas at the Wilson County Fairgrounds offers Tennessee’s largest drive-through light and music show. It’s open rain or shine and admission includes access to Santa’s village, a visit with Santa, and a petting zoo. It’s open Sunday through Thursday 5 – 10 pm and Friday and Saturday 5 – 11 pm.

Tip: To avoid long waits, visit on a weeknight as weekends can be VERY busy. 

More info HERE

ICE at Gaylord Opryland; Photos Courtesy Gaylord Opryland
ICE at Gaylord Opryland; Photos Courtesy Gaylord Opryland

Christmas At Gaylord Opryland 

Nov. 11, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023 

If you are looking for a Christmas experience like no other, look no further than Christmas at Gaylord Opryland. There are endless activities to experience at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, including ICE! featuring The Polar Express, breakfast with Charlie Brown & Friends, photos with Santa, ice skating, ice tubing, and more.

More info HERE

Vince Gill, Amy Grant; Photo by Robby Klein
Vince Gill, Amy Grant; Photo by Robby Klein

Amy Grant & Vince Gill at The Ryman 

Select Dates Dec. 13 – 23

Amy Grant and Vince Gill have been enchanting audiences with their Christmas at the Ryman performances for numerous years, and this year is no exception. The cherished couple is set to grace the stage at Nashville’s renowned Ryman Auditorium on various evenings throughout December.

More info HERE

Opry Country Christmas 

Select Dates From Now – Dec. 22, 2022

The Grand Ole Opry is ringing in the holiday season with several Opry Country Christmas shows. On select nights, artists will take to the iconic Opry Circle to perform Christmas classics. 

December 11: Lady A, Mandy Barnett, The Gatlin Brothers, The Scott Family, Charlie McCoy, and Riders in the Sky.

December 14: Mandy Barnett, The Gatlin Brothers, Charlie McCoy, Riders in the Sky, Lorrie Morgan, and Rhonda Vincent. 

December 17: Steven Curtis Chapman, Mandy Barnett, The Gatlin Brothers, Louise Mandrell, Charlie McCoy, and Riders in the Sky. 

December 18: Chris Janson, Mandy Barnett, John Berry, The Gatlin Brothers, Charlie McCoy, and Riders in the Sky. 

 More info HERE

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.