CMA Fest is my favorite week of the year. After attending CMA Fest seven times, I consider myself an expert on the subject.
I have compiled a list of CMA Fest Hacks to prepare you for the week’s festivities. Whether you will be attending CMA Fest for the first time this year or you are a pro, I hope that these CMA Fest Hacks help you get the most out of your trip to Nashville, Tennessee.
Download The CMA Fest App
The CMA Fest Mobile App contains all of the concert lineups, your personalized schedule, a map of the festival, and schedule of events at Fan Fair X. The app also sends festival updates straight to your phone, so you will know if any changes are made.
Sit To The Left At Riverfront Park
People like to walk into Riverfront Park and watch from there, as if there is nowhere else to go. Keep walking all the way to the end and go down the last staircase. Typically, you will be able to find a spot here, and it is close to the exit.
There are some stairs that I like to sit on because they are close to the bathrooms and you can walk up to the stage to get pictures and not have to fight the crowd to get back to your seat.
Buy A Nissan Stadium Parking Pass
If you have tickets to the concerts at Nissan Stadium, the parking pass is so worth it. For the 2019 Festival, the pass is $83.80 and available for purchase on Ticketmaster.
Park At The Music City Center During The Day
With a fee of $25, it is cheaper than most other Downtown lots plus it’s right in the middle of the action. You can get in and out of the parking area quickly and are close to your car should you need to go back for something.
Carry A Refillable Water Bottle
After seeing people pass out out due to dehydration every year, it’s nice to see the festival finally making free water easily accessible. You may bring a plastic refillable water bottle to the outdoor concert stages and Nissan Stadium (must be empty upon entry).
These are the free water refill locations:
- Broadway: between 1st and 2nd Avenue; between 2nd and 3rd Avenue
- Riverfront Park: outside of the main entrance
- Walk of Fame Park
- Nissan Stadium: water fountains throughout
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Use Fan Fair X As Home Base
Fan Fair X takes place inside of the Music City Center–by far the best venue of CMA Fest. Not only is the Music City Center air-conditioned, but it has nice bathrooms, outlets where you can charge your phone, and plenty of room to sit down and take a break.
Use Fan Fair X as your group meeting spot or as a place to recharge throughout the day.
Bring A Blanket To Sit On At The Riverfront
This way, you can claim a spot and sit down in-between acts. We use one of the blankets that fold into a bag (because it has a handle that we can use to tote it around the rest of the day) but a beach towel also works just fine.
Follow The Country Music Association On Social Media
This is the best way to keep up with what is going on at CMA Fest. Plus, they make special announcements and have lots of giveaways (especially on Instagram Stories and Snapchat).
Arrive In Nashville Early
This is my favorite CMA Fest Hack because the festival unofficially kicks off on Wednesday with the CMT Awards. There is usually a live performance or two on Broadway and the energy in Nashville gets you really excited for the days ahead.
Wear Tennis Shoes And Bring Flip Flops
I know it’s CMA Fest and you want to wear your boots but one, Nashville is HOT this time of year and two, you will be doing a lot of walking. Tennis shoes are your best option for walking around town.
Bring a pair of flip flops to change into while sitting at the Amphitheater or Riverfront. It’ll help cool you down.
Pack The Essentials
As I said before, Nashville is HOT in June. In my seven years at CMA Fest, I don’t think the temperature got below 85 degrees (and that was at midnight!). Buy a portable fan from Amazon (listed on my Amazon ad below). It will cost you less than $15 and you will more than get your money’s worth.
Between taking pictures of your favorite artists, checking the concert schedule, uploading pictures to social media, and checking CMA’s social media accounts for giveaways, your phone battery will go quickly. Be prepared and bring a mobile phone charger.
Note: All CMA Fest areas observe a clear bag policy.
Stay At An Airbnb
My husband and I stayed at an Airbnb property during CMA Fest for three years and absolutely loved it. It was MUCH cheaper than a hotel room in Nashville and we had a lot more space.
Don’t Eat At The Restaurants On Broadway
The restaurants on Broadway will be full for the entirety of CMA Fest–they are also more expensive because they are on Broadway. Venture off of Broadway and enjoy a good meal at a cheaper price.
Recommendations: The Grilled Cheeserie Food Truck (usually set up at Eats’N’Beats outside of the Music City Center), bartaco (in the 12 South neighborhood–home of the “I Believe In Nashville Mural” you’ve seen on Instagram and Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James store), Pharmacy Burger (hipster spot in East Nashville), and McDougal’s (fantastic chicken fingers for super cheap).
Note: We kick off CMA Fest by eating dinner at Merchants on Wednesday when the CMT Awards are going on. Although it’s on Broadway, it’s usually empty during the Awards show.
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Use Lyft To Get Around
Taking a Lyft Downtown is cheaper than paying for parking, plus you can get dropped off close to where you are going. Payment is processed through the Lyft app to your credit card so you do not need to carry around cash.
There’s More To Nashville’s Nightlife Than Broadway
Although the bars on Broadway are fun, the massive crowds can be a lot to deal with. Opt to check out other bars in Nashville like Winners, Losers, the original Tin Roof (Demonbreun), 3 Crow Bar, Kung Fu Saloon, and Rebar.
Enjoy CMA Fest
I hope that these CMA Fest Hacks help to make your trip more enjoyable. If you have any additional hacks, please share them with us. Enjoy your time at CMA Fest!
Need more help planning your CMA Fest trip? Check out some of our other CMA Fest articles:
Recapping CMA Fest
Complete CMA Fest Packing List
CMA Fest: Everything You Need To Know
Why We Are Ending Our CMA Fest Tradition