Hollering and Swallering in Nashville Tennessee

Nashville Tennessee is a 12 hour drive or a 2 hour flight from Houston and is in the heart of the South.

The Country Music Festival (CMA Fest) is perfect time of year to visit the home of honky-tonks and country music.

This year the Country Music Festival ran June 6 through to June 9 in the Downtown area with evening concerts at LP Field.

CMA Fest is a music festival with past, current and new country artists perform on a variety of stages and venues around Nashville.  The city is bustling with people who have travelled from all over the world to visit the country music capital of the world.

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Arranging to go to the CMA Fest might seem overwhelming, but with some organised planning you can enjoy this amazing city in its element.

Flights: Both Southwest Airlines and United fly to Nashville directly and if you book early enough you should be able to fly from Houston for about $350 return.

Hotels: This is where you get ripped off.  Usually Nashville is a pretty inexpensive city to find a hotel.  But during the festival $150 rooms go for $450+.  CMA Fest is in downtown with the final concert at LP Field which is located across the bridge from downtown.  We chose to stay at the Ramada Hotel at LP Field as the concerts finished around midnight so we could just cross the carpark at the end of the concert.  This worked well for us, but I think the best located hotel for CMA Fest was the Hilton in Downtown Nashville as it was amongst all the daily activities.  Many of the large hotels have accomodation and ticket packages so contact the hotels for the best deals.

Tickets:  At the time of posting, the 2014 CMA Fest has tickets available.  If you can, I would purchase these directly from ticketmaster so that you don’t overpay for your tickets through re-sellers.  Tickets cost from $162 – $385 for a 4 day pass for LP Field.  The 4 day pass allows you access to the picture row where you can line-up for a a picture in the front of the front row of the concerts at Riverfront and LP Field.  We sat in section D on the field at LP Field and I wouldn’t want to sit too much further back.  But they do have 2 big screens on either side if you end up sitting in the nose bleeds.

All of the other concerts (Riverfront Stage, Roadhouse Stage, Performance Park, Bridgestone Arena Stage, Tailgate Party (plus more!) are all free and are standing or sitting room.

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Tips for the event: 

  1. Download the CMA Fest application from iTunes as you can put your own schedule together, it has a map, lineup of activities and bands and any news from the event.
  2. Drinks lots of water & sunscreen
  3. Bring festival type attire, pretty much the entire event is outdoors so you have to face the elements.  The weather changed from blazing hot to raining throughout the day!

There are many other activities to do in Nashville so if you have time in your schedule, I would add a couple more days to your visit so that you can experience Nashville to it’s fullest.

The Grand Ole Opry is Nashville’s number 1 attraction.  It is a small music venue filled with history.  They run beautiful tours of the Opry, and if you have the time I would recommend seeing an concert in their intimate setting.

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Those readers who having been watching the Television show Nashville will know the famous small music venue called the Bluebird Cafe.  This is known as a songwriters performance space where the “heroes behind the hits” perform. Many artists such as Garth Brooks were discovered at the Bluebird.  The venue is really small so you need to book tickets ahead of time, as there is only a limited number of bar seats and the venue has become even more popular since featuring on the TV show.

The Jack Daniel’s Distillery located in Lynchburg TN an hour and a half from Downtown Nashville.  This runs tours daily and provides a great excuse to get out of the Nashville to see a smaller town in Tennessee.

Tooties Orchid Lounge is a world famous bar located on Broadway behind the Ryman Theatre.  It is a bar that has been around since the 196o so is rich with history and an icon in Nashville.  It is packed when you walk as the band plays immediately next to the door and you can then walk through to a second bar and band upstairs.  This is a must visit honky tonk in Nashville!

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Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a huge collection of Country Music Memorabilia with costumes, instruments, awards, videos from all eras of Country Music. With your 4 day pass to CMA Fest they give you a discount on tickets.

Food:  Most of the food along Broadway and 2nd is targeted towards the tourist set, if you head a little out of the area you will find some great dining options.

Most of the restaurant’s and bars during CMA Fest are really busy.  So we tried out the gorgeous Margot Cafe and Bar located in East Nashville with French and Italian influences.  Their menu changes daily and uses local and fresh produce.

Another famous restaurant is Monell’s serving southern food family style.

I think that Nashville is an iconic city in the US that many expats would enjoy visiting.  So pack your cowboy boots, grab your guitar and holler!

We would love to hear our reader’s recommendations on their favorite hot-spots in Nashville.

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