Nashville is often referred to as “Music City,” a suitable moniker for a town that has embraced all forms of plucking, singing, strumming and toe-tapping for more than 100 years. Hee Haw and Pop! Goes the Country both had their start in Nashville, as did a plethora of country music artists who still grace the hallowed stages of the revered venues below.
Making History With the Grand Ole Opry
Back before television, YouTube and the advent of streaming services, people got their music via the radio, and one of the most popular shows was the Grand Ole Opry. What began as a one-hour “barn dance” broadcast on November 28, 1925, showcasing the fiddle stylings of one Uncle Jimmy Thompson, has evolved into a weekly stage show that shines a light on some of the very best talents in Nashville.
Country singers and bluegrass and folk performers mix with gospel artists and sketch comedians to form a fun, energetic blend of entertainment. Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, the Carter Family, Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks and Rascal Flatts are just some of the artists who have played for Opry audiences, and many have had the honor of being inducted into the Opry too.
Fans can attend a show in person by purchasing tickets through Events 365 and heading to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, which currently serves as the Opry’s home. Backstage tours are also available, giving country music enthusiasts the opportunity to get a glimpse of behind-the-scenes action and Opry history.
A Harmonic Home at Ryman Auditorium
Formerly known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle and the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium has been hosting revivals, boxing matches, speaking engagements and concerts since it was first constructed by Nashville businessman Thomas Ryman in 1892. Today, the 2,362-seat venue welcomes talented musicians from a wide variety of genres as well as performers specializing in musical theater and stand-up comedy.
The Grand Ole Opry is one of Ryman’s most famous acts; the two Nashville entities have been linked since the Opry first relocated to the venue in 1943. The Opry moved to the newly constructed Opryland in 1974 but has returned to Ryman repeatedly and regularly hosts shows at the venue during the winter.
When the Opry isn’t in the house, the stage becomes the playground of music’s biggest stars. From residencies like Amy Grant and Vince Gill’s Christmas showcase to the annual summer bluegrass festival to tour stops by artists such as Old Crow Medicine Show, Dwight Yoakam, John Mulaney, 2Cellos, Walk the Moon, Blues Traveler and Kelsea Ballerini, Ryman offers incredible music in a historical setting.
Upcoming shows at Ryman Auditorium include:
Country Comes Alive at CMA Fest
Every June, the Country Music Association hosts a four-day country music get-together in Nashville, Tennessee. An estimated quarter of a million people from more than 40 countries and all 50 U.S. states descend on Music City to partake in concerts, meet-and-greet sessions and autograph opportunities with the biggest names in country music. Attendees can flit from stage to stage with concerts hosted at Riverfront Park and Nissan Stadium, among other spots.
Artists aren’t paid to attend or play at CMA Fest. Instead, proceeds are split between charitable causes and a fund established to help promote “the advancement of country music.” Past performers include Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Brett Young, Brothers Osborne, Cole Swindell, Darius Rucker, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Garth Brooks, Lady Antebellum, Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert.
Tickets for main stage events go on sale more than six months prior to the opening of the fest, and there are also a number of free concerts and activities set up all over the city.
Music City Sports
In addition to music, Nashville has a thriving sports scene that centers around two professional teams: the Tennessee Titans (NFL) and the Nashville Predators (NHL). The Predators, last year’s Stanley Cup runner up, play at Bridgestone Arena, a 20,000-seat venue that hosts musical acts, rodeos and touring shows as well as hockey games. The Titans play at Nissan Stadium, a massive venue that boasts a 69,143-person capacity and a full schedule featuring seasonal football alongside musical acts like Kenney Chesney and Taylor Swift.
Nashville chalked up a major win when it scored the rights to host the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The “Road to the Final Four” now goes through Music City, with the first and second rounds of the tournament held at Bridgestone Arena. Events 365 offers all-session passes, or attendees can spring for ticket and hospitality packages that include single game tickets, NCAA fan experiences and other perks.
Major tours performing at Bridgestone arena in 2018: