Thinking about attending CMA Fest or already have tickets but still have questions? We are going to tell you the ins and outs of attending this 4 day Country Music extravaganza- what you should bring, where you should eat and how you should plan – because all of this is important. CMA Fest can be overwhelming, especially for first-timers and if you don’t know what you’re getting into can miss some of the best parts. With our help, we promise this won’t be you.
Beat the Heat
Nashville is HOT in June. We’re not talking, wear a tank top, beachy kind of hot. It’s going to be humid. Wear light-weight, breathable clothes like shorts and a tank top. We know that cowboy boots are so tempting, but save those for going out to dinner one night. Even if your boots are comfortable, they are hot. Wear the most comfortable, breathable shoes you own because you’ll be doing a lot of walking and a lot of standing.
Bring a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go because dehydration is not something you want to play with. There will be vendors all over the downtown scene, but trust us when we say you don’t want to waste your money buying $6 bottles of water – just bring your own.
Lather up in sunscreen and apply often! While there are some shaded areas, the majority of the time you will be in direct sunlight. Add your favorite cowboy hat to keep the sun off your face and wala!
If you’re staying at one of our Melrose studios, be sure to take a dip in the pool during a mid-day break.
We understand how great the random pop-ups of CMA Fest can be, but in order to make all of the shows, events & places you want to see, you’ll have to block out your time. Whether you’re not much of a planner or super organized, CMA Fest offers a free app! Download it and make sure you are giving yourself enough time in between acts to get wherever you need to go. Don’t forget to build in a few breaks to just walk around and take in the amazing sights that Music City has to offer.
Sidenote: if several days of Festival fun isn’t your thing, consider buying just a single day pass. You can always check out the daily lineups and choose the day(s) that have your favorite stars taking the stage!
Uber and Lyft are your best friends during CMA Fest. Downtown Nashville parking is a mess and you don’t want to deal with getting a ticket or having your car booted (not the cowboy kind) and not being able to find a spot in time. You’re in luck, though! If you’re a first time user of rideshares, you can save on your first rides by using code uv5yr on Uber and N1021 on Lyft. Every year in June, both rideshare apps also usually give out plenty of money saving codes, too. The codes usually get created closer to the festival so check the official CMA, UBER or LYFT sites before your trip for updates. There will also more than likely be people giving out promo code cards downtown while you’re checking everything out, so be sure to take a card or two – it will save you big bucks!
Pro tip: walk a little bit outside of Downtown for easier, less chaotic pickups, especially at peak times. If you’re staying anywhere other than the East side of town, for instance Melrose/ 8th Avenue S or 12 South, we suggest walking to the Gulch. It takes about 15 minutes and we usually select Milk and Honey restaurant as our pickup point. If you’re staying in East Nashville you’re best to stick with the designated pickup areas by Nissan Stadium.
Nashville is home to some of the most tasty places to eat this side of the Mississippi. Be sure you don’t just gravitate to the usual chain restaurants that you’ve had a hundred times during your stay. If you’re staying down in the thick of the CMA festivities, we recommend any and all food trucks (especially ‘The Grilled Cheeserie’). Acme also has a delicious menu to go along with some of the best cocktails you’ll ever try – we love ordering the beer belly tacos and to ‘Bridesmaids tears’ for a drink – yum.
That said, we do suggest venturing off Broadway at least for a meal or two. During CMA Fest, restaurants and bars that are often hard to get into are much easier since everyone is at the festival. You can find our top Eats and Drinks picks around Nashville here.
Know Before You Go
CMA Fest organizers have clear policies and bags and what you can and cannot bring into the festival. Be sure you don’t lug something down that you end up not being able to take in. Because the rules may change from year to year, we recommend visiting the CMA Fest FAQs page to brush up on their policies.
At the end of the day, you are in Nashville to have fun. Don’t take anything too seriously, make friends with other country music lovers and listen to the songs that keep you coming back for more. We want you to have a unique trip that you can tell your friends and families about and hopefully you’ll end up making CMA Fest an annual festivity.
Excited yet? We are, too! Be sure to check out Nashville Airbnb/ Vacation Rentals if you’re looking for a place to call “home” if you decide to visit! You can view our availability and book directly right here on our website.
PS: Nashville fun isn’t limited to the CMA Fest. Be sure to check out our What to Do Nashville guide for inspiration on more to do while visiting Nashville.