The Country Music Association Musical Festival (aka CMA Fest) is a four day music event that takes place in Nashville, Tennessee during the first part of June. Days are spent walking around downtown Nashville, to and from concert stages. It is incredibly hot and we usually see rain at some point. As a result, CMA Fest attendees need to pack a wide variety of items to be prepared for whatever the week throws at you. After five years of experience, here is my CMA Fest packing list.
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CMA Fest Packing List
- 4 Day outfits
- Think of outfits that you will be sitting out in the sun in. T-shirts and shorts are perfect but you may want to opt for sleeveless shirts or tank tops.
- 4 Night outfits
- While there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing the same outfit all day, my experience is that daytime clothes are often still dripping with sweat well into the evening (and I am sure that anyone who has ever been can agree with me on this one). It is also still pretty hot when you first get to Nissan Stadium (formerly LP Field) so dress accordingly. And unless you have a parking pass, more than likely you are going to be walking across the pedestrian bridge; so wear appropriate shoes.
- 1 Outfit to travel home in
- Makeup, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash or soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, hair brush, hair appliances and accessories, stain remover, lotion, sewing kid, shaving cream, razor, cologne, medicine kit including pain reliever, and prescription medication.
- Walking Shoes
- I know that this is a country music festival in Nashville so you will want to wear your cowboy boots, but I am advising you to leave them at home. From 9AM until late into the night you will be walking around the entire town and sore feet on day one of your trip will only make the other three miserable.
- Credit card, cash, and photo ID
- The bars in downtown Nashville generally check everyone’s ID at the door and do not make exceptions.
- If you plan on attending the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium or FanFairX (at the Music City Center) you will need a ticket. They can be purchased on the CMAFest website or through third parties. Heads up, tickets go on sale more than a year in advance and sell out relatively quickly; if you do not purchase yours when they officially go on sale, you are going to pay more than face value. Also DO NOT POST PICTURES OF YOUR TICKETS ONLINE. Scalpers can use your pictures to make identical tickets and then sell them. I saw this happen first hand last year so be cautious.
- Download the CMAFest app
- I highly recommend that all CMA Fest attendees do this. CMA does a great job of keeping all of the festival information on their app. They have full schedules for all stages that can be personalized based on which artists you want to see. Plus, they have an interactive map listing all CMA Fest stages and events going on which makes navigating around downtown easy.
- Printed schedule
- While this may sound weird since everything is done on our phones these days, there will be so many people in downtown Nashville that service usually sucks; thus, the app cannot always be opened on demand. Either print off your personalized schedule or write it down ahead of time. Also make plans with other friends and family members attending the festival in advance in case you cannot text or call them.
- Clear bag measuring 12x6x12 inches or a small clutch
- This only applies to people who are attending the concerts at Nissan Stadium as it is an NFL policy. They do not allow exceptions and last year I saw people throwing purses away at the gate because they could not take them inside (and after walking around all day the last thing they wanted to do was walk across the bridge to their hotel).
- Make your Instagram public
- If you post pictures to Instagram throughout the day and use the official CMAFest hashtag (usually #CMAFest but check their Instagram closer to time), your pictures can end up on the big screen at Nissan Stadium for the whole crowd to see! In the past, tweets to @CountryMusic have also showed up.
- This is essential if you are spending your days downtown. Pack everything that you may need for the day so you do not have to make a special trip to the hotel.
- Bottled water
- Please, please pack bottled water in your backpack or buy bottles of water throughout the day. Every year people fall out, literally in the middle of the street, of heat exhaustion. Unopened bottles can be brought into the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage so there is no excuse as to why you do not drink water throughout the day.
- Mobile charger/juice pack
- I have found that due to the number of pictures and videos that I take during the day, plus all of the social media that I use, a mobile charger is essential. I tell you from experience that nothing sucks more than having your phone die the moment that you walk into Nissan Stadium at night to see Jason Aldean and Eric Church. Learn from my mistakes!
- Beach towel or a blanket
- The Chevrolet Riverfront Stage is a huge grassy area where guests can sit and enjoy concerts all afternoon. If you do not plan on standing for seven hours or want to sit in wet grass, bring a small beach towel or blanket.
- Apply, reapply, and reapply again. Sunburn is another thing that can ruin your vacation.
- Rain jacket and rain boots
- I am pretty sure that it has rained at least one day every year that I have been to CMAFest. It is always better to be prepared.
- Two years ago, it started pouring the rain during one of the night concerts. We ended up spending close to an hour in line to buy a poncho at the stadium gift shop and missed all of Little Big Town. Buy ponchos in advance and keep them with you.
- Crowds downtown are extremely crazy, especially because daytime events are free (the Riverfront is the absolute worst for chaos). Navigating your way to a restaurant for lunch, or even to a food stand for that matter, can take time and may be virtually impossible. Snacks are a way to hold out until you are finished seeing artists at one stage so you can grab food on your way to the next stop.
- Baby powder
- I know this sounds really funny. But seriously, walking around all day in clothes that are literally dripping with sweat will probably make some part of your body chaffed. Put baby powder on before you get dressed in the morning to help with this.
- Pen and paper
- If you are an autograph person, you need to keep these with you at all times. You never know who you will see around Nashville!
- Whether it be phone or camera chargers, even extra batteries, do not forget to pack these!
- Plastic Bags
- Weird, but I pack these everywhere I go. You may have wet clothes (from rain on the last night) to go in your suitcase.
- Hand sanitizer
- This is pretty self explanatory since you are spending all day outside. Baby wipes are also a great idea.
I hope that this CMA Fest Packing List helps you get ready for your trip. Have a great time!
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