Surviving Nashville’s CMA Music Fest
The summer of 2015 marked my 5th time to attend the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee and I have to say that it was the best trip yet. From the Chevrolet River Front shows, LP Field concerts at night, to the delicious eats around Nashville, I feel as if I have finally mastered CMA Music Fest. I cannot wait to start planning for next year!
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CMA Music Fest 2015
2015’s CMA Music Festival actually began before CMA Fest 2014 even took place. Tickets are available for purchase more than a year in advance and they sell out quickly. Buying a 4-day ticket gets you into the LP Field shows at night (where country’s biggest stars perform) and access to the photo line that runs in front of the stage.
You also gain admission into Fan Fair X, where celebrities host meet and greets, you can get free stuff from some of your favorite brands, and see up close and personal performances from a wide array of country music stars. Although all other daytime events are free to the public during CMA Fest, I highly suggest purchasing a 4-day ticket to experience all that CMA Music Fest has to offer.
Planning CMA Fest
With tickets secured, our next step was to find somewhere to stay during the 5-day event. Even though CMA Fest only runs Thursday-Sunday, the CMT Awards show on Wednesday unofficially kicks off the week. Hotels in downtown Nashville, as well the surrounding areas, sell out months in advance and are incredibly expensive. For the first time, my boyfriend (Blake) and I stayed at an Airbnb. I was really nervous to stay at someone’s home but our host seemed nice, had tons of positive reviews, and was in a great location, something that we could not pass up. We made our reservation in March and counted down the days until our trip!
The final step in planning did not happen until almost time for the festival to take place. CMA announced the lineup and posted the schedule to their app. From here, you can create a custom agenda tailored to which artists you want to see. While this seems like an easy task, during each day of the festival there are six stages with performances running all day long; so narrowing it down can be challenging, especially when you are going with multiple people. Blake and I finally agreed on a schedule and we were ready for Nashville!
Wednesday: Pre CMA Kick Off
Blake and I checked into our Airbnb accommodation and I was delighted by how wonderful the apartment was. It was perfect for us and we were only 10 minutes from downtown. Two thumbs up Airbnb! We rushed to get to the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage to catch the last few acts of the “Highway Finds” concert put on by Sirius Radio’s “The Highway” station, my favorite. Old Dominion played last and I absolutely fell in love with them.
The CMT Awards were holding two live performances out on Broadway (the main street downtown, also known as the Buckle during CMA Fest), so walking around was pretty much impossible. The streets were full of people trying to see Kenny Chesney and Darius Rucker. Blake and I opted to skip out and eat dinner at Merchant’s. Obviously we shared their Duck Fat Tater Tots. Yum! We went to the Tin Roof that night and listened to some live music. We called it an early night so we could rest up for the first official day of CMA Fest.
First thing Thursday morning, Blake and I went to the Music City Center where Little Big Town cut the ribbon to kick off CMA Fest 2015. Afterwards, we headed to the Riverfront Stage where we saw Gary Allan, Montgomery Gentry, and The Cadillac Three perform.
It was so hot, that we decided to take a break and cool off inside of Fan Fair X, where we met up with my mom and sister. Of course when we arrived, Peyton was in line to meet Chris Carmack, Will Lexington in ABC’s “Nashville” and Luke Ward in a little show called “The OC”. Afterwards, we stood outside of Bridgestone Arena to see A Thousand Horses. It was so hot that people were fainting everywhere you looked. Stay hydrated people! The four of us opted to go rest at our apartment and get ready for the first night of LP Field shows.
My mom purchased an LP Field (now Nissan Stadium) parking pass and I will be forever grateful. Instead of having to find an over priced lot in downtown Nashville and walk across the pedestrian bridge with thousands of other people, we got to park right outside of the stadium. I so recommend spending the extra money! We grabbed a couple bottles of water and headed to our seats. Alan Jackson kicked off the night and was followed by Sam Hunt, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line, and Jason Aldean. Talk about a great night!
We spent all day at the Riverfront Stage and I have never seen it so packed. People were standing on top of each other, not even kidding. Blake and I found a spot on some stairs over the water on the far left corner, right above the bathrooms. Aside from the high temperature, it was perfect.
We got to see Kellie Pickler, Eric Paslay, RaeLynn, Chip Esten (Deacon on “Nashville”), and Chase Rice. For dinner, Blake took me across town to Penn Station, my favorite sandwich shop. My chicken teriyaki sub was well worth the drive! LP Field’s Friday night performers were The Band Perry, Maddie & Tae, Lee Brice, Randy Houser, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, and Luke Bryan.
Blake took Saturday morning off to play golf. I tried to go downtown, but parking was impossible. Instead, I joined Blake and his friends at Centennial Park for lunch where I ate at The Grilled Cheeserie food truck. I ordered a grilled cheese with bacon and it was delicious!
That night’s LP Field show included Chris Young, Thomas Rhett, Brett Eldredge, Little Big Town, and Carrie Underwood. After the concerts, we went to Rippy’s, my favorite bar downtown, right beside Bridgestone Arena. They have two girls that sing covers of songs and I try to see them every time I come to town. I should note here that Blake and I get around Nashville via Lyft. This was our second year using that ride share service and we have nothing but wonderful things to say about it!
The last day of CMA Fest, Blake and I tried to get back into the concert scene. We went to see Cole Taylor at the Hard Rock Plaza. After, we opted to sightsee around Nashville with my mom and sister from the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle. We had an early dinner at the Melting Pot, one of our favorites. After eating way too much, we headed over to LP Field to enjoy the last night of CMA Fest. Cole Swindell opened, followed by Darius Rucker, Eric Church (my favorite), Keith Urban, and Brad Paisley. Afterwards, Blake and I said goodbye to my mom and sister and packed up our apartment. CMA Music Fest 2015 was officially over.
CMA Fest 2015 Was A Success!
Although we did not get to see all of the performers that we wanted to, due to the heat and crowds, Blake and I had a wonderful trip. After five years, I feel as if I have mastered CMA Music Fest, realizing that you do not have to do everything that is offered. Blake and I got to do what we absolutely wanted to and spent some time enjoying other things that Nashville has to offer. I am counting down the days until CMA Music Fest 2016!
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Taylor Pittman Hardy wrote this article.
Check out our other CMA Music Fest posts:
What You Need to Know
Why We Are Ending Our CMA Fest Tradition