Holiday Activities in Nashville, TN
Christmas should inspire a love of community and a sense of childlike wonder. A parade is both those things. The Nashville parade is a tradition that started in 1952, and it's big -- tens of thousands of spectators gather to watch it wind its way through downtown. It typically includes around 80 floats as well as balloons, marching bands and performing groups. The festivities kick off with the lighting of a huge Norwegian spruce on Nashville Public Square; other special elements of the evening include musical performances and appearances by luminaries like the Mayor and Santa Claus. You'll probably be chilly by the end--find a quiet spot to enjoy hot toddy or spiked eggnogg.
Ask a Nashvillian about the best local holiday activities, and they're likely to mention Opryland first. Each year the hotel complex creates a jaw-dropping display featuring over 2 million Crhistmas lights. Throughout its many indoor and outdoor spaces, lights coat trees, soar from 30-foot ceilings and are reflected in ponds. It's a treat for the eyes that outclasses any other winter lights show you're likely to see, and it's free to stroll around and take it all in. (But unlike other lights show, there are multiple chances to stop for drinks or a meal.) Opryland doesn't stop at a lights show. Check their website for other holiday treats photos with Santa and the "Treasures for the Holidays" craft and gift show. It's great place to find gifts, food, home decor and more from local merchants.
The Nutcracker, a of a young girl gifted with a magical toy and whisked away on a magical Christmas adventure, will always be a relevant holiday fable. But the annual Music City production is especially relevent: it's set in Nashville (circa 1898), and features many local landmarks, as well as characters based on former residents (like Andrew Jackson). In this story, Clara's adventures begin after she visits the Centennial Exhibition. She meets glamorous characters from far-away lands in scenes like the Dance of the Sugarplum fairy and the Battle of the Rats. Paul Vasterling's original choreography debuted in 2008 and has already become a local tradition. Beautiful choreography and world-class local dancers make the experience unforgettable--and if that's not enough, there's a dancing bear.
With the holiday season's focus on cookies, candy and heartwarming christmas specials, most seasonal activities don't require much sophistication to enjoy. Enjoy a more urbane and adult-friendly holiday treat by attending The Arts Company's seasonal market. You'll find unique gifts for loved ones (or yourself!), made by local artists. Their selections are different every year, and include paintings, sculpture, art gifts and books. The gallery is festively furnished with Christmas trees and sculptures, and you can check out their latest exhibits. The art market debuts at the First Saturday Art Crawl in December, and continues during regular gallery hours all month.
The Farmer’s Market is most associated with the spring and summer months, when fruits and veggies are in season. But it shouldn’t be neglected in the colder months. This time of year, they have plenty of holiday food, beverages, decorations and gifts to help make the season bright. At their free yearly holiday market, stop by for food, wine, live music and more. Browse products from dozens of local merchants, including Delvin Farms, Hog Heaven BBQ, Provence Breads and Randy’s Cheesecakes. There are activities for kids as well as wine and cocktails for grownups. The farmer's market offers other seasonal events such as a gingerbread house construction class, so check their schedule!