Nashville Tennessee is one of my favorite places in the United States. After spending a couple of Christmas holidays there with my children, I’m excited to share all my secrets about how to have the best Christmas in Nashville TN.
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Why should you spend Christmas in Nashville, Tennessee?
Previously one of my Christmas traditions has been to take a trip with my children for the holiday season. Nashville is great at Christmas time because they have SO many cool things to do, the weather is still great so you can also enjoy outside activities, and it’s MUCH less crowded. It’s a great way to spend the most wonderful time of the year!
Note: It does get a little chilly at night. You should bring a sweater, but you shouldn’t need a heavy jacket and you shouldn’t have to deal with any snow.
Where to STAY in Nashville TN
The BEST way to REALLY get into the Christmas spirit in Nashville TN is to stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. You will be blown away by the lavish holiday decorations and the incredible amount of activities on-site at this 4-star family resort. You literally NEVER have to leave the hotel if you don’t want to!
If staying at the Gaylord Resort is outside of your budget, don’t worry. There are lots of other hotel options for celebrating your Tennessee Christmas! Just make sure you read the reviews before you book anything.
I learned the hard way because one year we had a BAD experience when we stayed at a well-known chain hotel in Nashville. The next time we took our Christmas trip with family and friends we stayed at a VBRO condo from a Super-host and it was PERFECT for our bigger group.
Visiting the Gaylord Hotel
As I said, a great way for your entire family to have a truly unique experience for their Christmas in Nashville is to stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, BUT even if you aren’t overnight guests at the resort you are still welcome to visit inside! It is beautifully decorated from floor to ceiling for Christmas.
I assure you that most likely, you have never seen anything quite like this hotel. It reminds me a little bit of the over-the-top hotels I saw when I was in Las Vegas, except this place has EVEN MORE! The Gardens alone rank #32 out of #265 things to do in Nashville Tennessee on TripAdvisor.
Aside from the incredible Christmas decorations, they have a Christmas-themed water fountain show, live entertainment like the Oak Ridge Boys dinner show, riverboat Christmas cruises, scavenger hunts, tons of photo opportunities, and more. (I’m telling you that this place is unlike ANYTHING I’ve ever seen before!)
You will have to check out ALL of the options on their activities page because it’s simply too much to mention here.
Even if you are only visiting the hotel to see the cool lights, get pictures, and see the water fountain show they still charge about $30.00 for parking. Here’s the trick… if you park in the Opry Mills Mall parking lot, (by the movies) you can walk right over to the hotel.
The Gaylord Hotel has an event during the Christmas season called ICE! The name is fitting since they bring in over 2 million pounds of ice to create a winter wonderland in the south. You can expect to experience temperatures at 9 degrees Fahrenheit. (Don’t worry, they have jackets for the guests.)
The event runs from November through January and every year there is a theme that gets magnified throughout the fun activities. For 2022 the theme is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
You can expect things like ice skating, snow tubing, photo ops with Santa Claus, gingerbread decorating, and ice bumper cars to name a few.
Where to see CHRISTMAS LIGHTS in Nashville TN
Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
One of our FAVORITE things to do is to see Christmas lights in Nashville TN at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. They transform the 55 acres of botanical gardens into a one-mile walking path of amazing holiday light displays.
In addition to the beautiful Christmas lights, they also offer food and drinks like hot chocolate, s’mores, and bar stations for more festive fun.
After you’ve had a drink, listened to your favorite Christmas carols, and taken pictures of the live reindeer… make sure you tour the beautifully decorated historic mansion and get your picture taken in front of the 20-foot-tall poinsettia tree.
Cheekwood Estates runs the holiday lights from mid-November through January. Make sure you check out their website for hours of operation and to purchase tickets in advance if you plan to visit during peak hours because they can stop selling tickets if it’s too crowded.
If you go at 8:30 pm you can get the late-night discounted entry price. We have done this twice and there is plenty of time to see everything without a big crowd. It’s a substantial savings if you are visiting with a large group, but it might not be as ideal if you have small children who take much longer to navigate through the gardens.
Have you ever been to the zoo in the winter? It’s a COMPLETELY different experience. This illuminated adventure runs from Mid-November through early January and is a SEPERATE ticket from the daytime zoo pass. It is open from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
I did this last year with my daughter when we took our Christmas trip to Atlanta, Georgia and it was a lot of fun!
Many cities have been transforming their zoos into a Chinese festival of lights called Zoolumination for the winter months. It’s an awesome way to see lights with animals made out of silk lanterns. Make sure you check out the website for the zoo’s hours and to purchase tickets.
Visit a Christmas POP-UP BAR in Nashville TN
Do you know what a “pop-up bar” is? If not, get ready to have your MiNd-bLoWn!
Pop-up bars are either temporary spaces, or they take over an existing space temporarily, to create an over-the-top, uniquely themed, dining experience. (I know… my definition is kind of wordy, but basically, it’s just a themed party and LOTS of fun!)
What better way to get in the holiday spirit than with some holiday cocktails? Nashville has around 20 different pop-up bars that are spreading holiday cheer. Check out this link so you can see ALL of the awesome themes! ALL of them serve incredible festive cocktails in their own unique ways.
Note: These are NOT your typical Nashville honky tonk situations. Think… heated igloos, Hansel and Gretel themes, an obnoxious amount of presents and Christmas balls hanging from the ceilings, candy canes, winter wonderland themes, a giant snow globe….
I mean, who wouldn’t have a great time sipping cocktails and eating tasty treats in a space that was created to duplicate A Christmas Story movie?!? Cheers to pop-up bars!
Where to see a CHRISTMAS SHOW in Nashville TN
Who doesn’t love seeing the Nutcracker ballet?! It’s a great experience to add to your Christmas vacation.
The Nashville Ballet has shows for the Nutcracker running throughout the month of December. You can expect to see incredible set design and costumes, live music by the Nashville Symphony, and even a scene with snow!
Make sure you check out the schedule and purchase your tickets in advance online.
Grand Ole Opry
Sometimes it’s a Country Christmas Show with different artists and special guests performing for your Music City holiday. One year when I took my children to Nashville we saw the Cirque Du Soleil show Cirque Dreams Holidaze. It was AWESOME!
PRO TIPS for Traveling ON CHRISTMAS
Here are my Top 3 PRO TIPS so you can have the best Christmas in Nashville TN:
FOOD: Where do you eat on Christmas Day when everything is closed?
Tip #1) We eat at a Chinese restaurant. They are always open on Christmas Day! Go online ahead of time to find one by your hotel.
THINGS TO DO: What do you do guys on Christmas Day when everything is closed?
Tip #2: During the day we like to see murals. It’s the perfect time to get pictures because no one else is there. Typically there is a LONG line for the “What Lifts You” famous wings mural in Nashville, but not on Christmas Day! (*wink*)
Tip #3: Later in the day we go to the movies. The movies are open every day of the year! Make sure you look online to see about buying your tickets ahead of time. Sometimes we are the only ones in the theater and other times everyone knows about my secret about going to the movies on Christmas.
Quick Links for Christmas in Nashville TN
I like to purchase my tickets in advance online so I have them all in an app on my phone. Viator and Get Your Guide let you book in advance and cancel most experiences within 24 hours with NO FEES. Below are some quick links to things I’ve suggested in the post “The Best Christmas in Nashville TN”.
If you liked The Best Christmas in Nashville TN, then you might also want to read Top 10 Things to See and Do in Nashville Tennessee.
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LET’S CONNECT: Which one of the suggestions from “The Best Christmas in Nashville TN” do you think you’d definitely want to try?