Recently, I just got back from my first trip to CMA Fest in Nashville, TN. Let me tell you, it was the BEST time and I got to spend it with one of my favorite people, Greta. If you love country music, it is definitely a festival to do one year with your friends! If you haven’t heard of CMA fest it is a 4 day country music festival that takes over Broadway in Downtown Nashville. Artists play on multiple stages throughout the day and most stages are free admission! Then at night tickets can be purchased to watch the headliners play Nissan Stadium. This year Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban were just a few!
So what do you need to know when planning to attend CMA Fest? Here are just some of my tips and suggestions that Greta and I learned from our first time at CMA Fest:
- Where to Stay: Definitely stay downtown. I am all about staying in Airbnb’s when visiting Nashville because I love the surrounding neighborhoods. However, this is not the weekend to do that! First, Uber and Lyft have designated pick up locations that must be walked to when downtown at the festival. Often there were lines of people waiting for transportation and it wasn’t very convenient. It is so much easier to be in waking distance from Broadway and a hotel downtown is your best bet. We stayed at Stay Alfred at 505 downtown which in my opinion was an ideal location. It was a couple blocks off of broadway but not too far so you got some peace and quite at night! It is also not a far distance from the walk to Nissan Stadium for the night concerts. What else? The view is amazing from the hotel, it has an awesome rooftop pool, and the service was very accommodating. It is also conveniently located right near a Starbucks and a favorite local coffee spot, Frothy Monkey. The hotel is also across the street from Pucketts which is a great brunch location for one of those mornings you are not able to get to the stages as fast.
- Dress Code: So let’s just say, it will be HOT. I recommend wearing clothing during the day that will breathe! I am a dress girl so I wore an easy summer dress on most days. Rompers and 2-piece sets are also great outfit ideas along with jean shorts paired with a tee. I loved mine which I found at the Wrangler pop-up! Just be sure to wear a wide brim hat to block the sun (this was a life saver for me and Brixton hats are one of my favorite) along with comfy shoes. Greta and I could not get over how sore our whole bodies were after the first day. Depending on your schedule for the day, you are walking to different stages at CMA Fest and then standing watching those performances so you are always on your feet. I wore my ankle boots almost daily which I live in and you will find cowboy boots everywhere. Because of course, when in Nashville.
- Clear Bags: Nissan Stadium now has a clear bag policy. This means you need to have a bag where they can see everything inside. This makes security go a lot faster which is a huge plus. This past year they even handed out clear drawstring bags to concert goers! I made a point to buy ahead of time a clear mini back pack from Target which was perfect and I know I’ll use it again at another event. In terms of packing for the day, remember you only want to pack what you will need. In my bag were my CMA Fest night passes (which I actually wore around my neck which most people did), my phone charger, lipgloss, sunscreen, water bottle, and a small wallet. Baby powder might have also been nice to bring because again things get VERY hot and sticky being outside all day!
- Food and Water: There are food vendors and trucks all over Broadway which have a variety of food options for everyone. You can also jump into one of the bars downtown on Broadway if you are in need of air conditioning and food. We did both but I have to mention the buffalo chicken grilled cheese I got one day from a local food truck was incredible! We also found ourselves hydrating nonstop. Vendors are selling water everywhere for $1 which was not bad at all but you can also carry around an empty water bottle for the free water stations. There are also areas at each stage to purchase beer, wine, and mixed drinks. We just really stuck to hydrated during the day!
- Music: There are 11 different stages that artists perform during each day at. Most of the concerts are entirely free and last about 20 minutes. It is great because all the stages are easy to get to however, always make note that if you are constantly changing stages it may be hard to catch your favorite singers! I would def use the CMA App which is very helpful in creating a schedule for yourself daily. I looked at this app every day to decide where we were off to next. This year the stages were:
- Nissan Stadium- The football stadium where you walk to every night to see your favorite country artists. Hard to get close to the action as the stadium is huge!
- Chevy Breakout Stage – Another favorite stage outside that you could get very close to the artists. These are the artists that are in my mind the best as they haven’t got too famous yet and produce some of your favorite hits.
- Chevy Riverfront Stage- Right on the water. A gorgeous venue where many sat or stood in the pit.
- Budweiser Forever Country Stage
- Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater
- Maui Jim Broadway Stage at Hard Rock Cafe – My favorite location because of how close you could get to the bands.
- Nashville Acoustic Corner Stage
- CMA Close up Stage
- Radio Disney Country Stage
- HGTV Lodge- Apparently there is a raffle to get into this lodge for performances. There is also a hopefuls line where you can wait in hopes of getting in for a performance. Look months ahead into this for next year!
- CMA Spotlight Stage
- Ole Red- So this isn’t really a CMA fest “stage” but it is Blake Shelton’s new bar on Broadway and they had the best artists playing all weekend. It was my favorite air conditioned place!
So what do you think?! Are you headed to CMA Fest next year? Let me know if you have any more questions! We had the best time and I miss belting out country music to Greta already! xx