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 seven years of experience, here is my CMA Fest packing list.
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CMA Fest Packing List
4 Day outfits
These are 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 so dress accordingly. And, unless you have a parking pass, more than likely you are going to be walking across the pedestrian bridge; 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.
I know that this is a country music festival in Nashville so you will want to wear your cowboy boots, but leave them at home. From 9AM until late into the night you will be walking around and sore feet on day one of your trip will only make the remaining three miserable.
Credit card, cash, and photo ID
The bars in downtown Nashville check everyone’s ID at the door and do not make exceptions.
You will need a ticket to attend the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium or visit FanFairX at the Music City Center. Tickets 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 your tickets when they initially go on sale, you are going to pay more than face value.
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.
Since everything is done on our phones these days, service in downtown Nashville usually sucks due to the number of people in the area; 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
The most important thing on this CMA Fest Packing List! If you are going to the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium, you must comply with this NFL policy.
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 day downtown. Pack everything that you may need for the day so you do not have to make a special trip to the hotel.
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.
Mobile charger/juice pack
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 want to stand for seven hours or 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
Two years ago, it started pouring the rain during one of the LP Field (now Nissan Stadium) 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.
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 getting dressed in the morning to help.
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!
Weird, but I pack these everywhere I go. You may have wet clothes (from rain on the last night) to go in your suitcase.
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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When you’re ready to book your hotel in Nashville for CMA Fest, find the best deals, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say on TripAdvisor.
Check out more music festival packing tips here.
Taylor Pittman Hardy wrote this article.
Check out our other CMA Fest posts:
Country Music Hall Of Fame
Why We Are Ending Our CMA Fest Tradition