The Best CMA Fest Hacks

CMA Fest Hacks to help you make the most of your time at the festival. After attending seven CMA Fests, I consider myself an expert.

After attending seven CMA Fests, I have made 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.

An expert's guide to the best CMA Fest hacks you'll find to make your four day country music extravaganza the best possible.

Download The CMA Fest App

The CMA Fest Mobile App contains all 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.

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 was $83.80 and available for purchase on Ticketmaster. 

cma fest parking pass

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). 

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.

county music fans attending fan fair x

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 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.

CMA’s Social Channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

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.

county music artists playing concerts at riverfront stage

Wear Tennis Shoes And Bring Flip Flops

Since Nashville is HOT this time of year and you will be doing a lot of walking, tennis shoes are your best bet. 

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

Check out our CMA Fest Packing list.

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).

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.

An expert's guide to the best CMA Fest hacks you'll find to make your four day country music extravaganza the best possible.

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:

Complete CMA Fest Packing List

CMA Fest: Everything You Need To Know

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