The Country Music Association Musical Festival, most commonly referred to as 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, and sitting in the hot summer sun (and occasional rain!).
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.
Note: You can download our complete CMA Fest packing list at the bottom of this post.
4 Daytime 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 Nighttime Outfits
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing the same outfit all day, daytime clothes are often still dripping with sweat well into the evening.
It is still pretty hot when you first get to Nissan Stadium, so dress accordingly.
This includes shampoo, conditioner, body wash or soap, deodorant, makeup, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, hair brush, hair appliances and accessories, lotion, shaving cream, razor, medicine kit with pain reliever, cologne or perfume, and necessary prescription medications.
I know that this is a country music festival in Nashville and you will want to wear your cowboy boots, but leave them at home. From 9 AM 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.
I recommend walking around in tennis shoes and bringing a pair of flip flops to change into during the concerts to help cool off.
Don’t forget to pack pajamas, bras, underwear, and socks.
You will need a ticket to attend the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium (main CMA Fest concerts) or the Ascend Amphitheater (Firestone Country Roads Stage) and to visit Xfinity Fan Fair X at the Music City Center. For more ticket information, click here.
Note: These are the only three events at CMA Fest that require a ticket. Everything else is free.
Reminder: Do not post pictures of your tickets online. Scalpers can use your photographs to make identical tickets and then sell them. I have seen this happen first hand, so be cautious.
A hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are needed during the day. The sun in Nashville (in June) is intense. Reapply sunscreen often.
Note: You may NOT bring aerosol sunscreen.
This is the most important thing on this CMA Fest Packing List! ALL CMA Fest stages have a clear bag policy. Your clear bag may be no larger than 12″ x 12″ x 6″. You may also bring a small clutch or wallet no larger than 5.5″ x 8.5″. All bags will be inspected.
Note: Only one small bag and one small clutch are allowed per person. Medical equipment is the only exception.
Tip: Fill your bag with everything you may need for the day so you do not have to make an unnecessary trip to the hotel.
Heat exhaustion at CMA Fest happens every year. Please stay hydrated! If you don’t wish to buy bottled water, you can bring a refillable plastic water bottle and fill it at CMA Fest’s water refill stations. This is a new policy and I am thrilled about it!
- Daytime Stages-1 factory sealed clear plastic bottle of water or 1 empty clear plastic bottle
- Nissan Stadium-1 empty clear plastic bottle to fill at water fountains throughout the stadium
- Ascend Amphitheater-1 factory sealed clear plastic bottle of water no larger than 20 ounces
Free Water Refill Stations:
- Broadway: Between 1st and 2nd Avenue, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue
- Riverfront Park: near main entrance
- Walk of Fame Park
My husband and I bought a handheld fan from Amazon about a year ago and we take it everywhere we go. It makes a HUGE difference on a hot day. It’s the best $15 we’ve ever spent!
Between taking pictures and videos, posting on social media, and checking the CMA Fest app, your phone battery is sure to go quickly. Bring a mobile charger so you aren’t without a phone.
Credit Card, Cash, and Photo ID
These are important for obvious reasons.
Note: You will need an ID to go out on Broadway. Everyone’s IDs are checked at the door during CMA Fest.
Beach Towel Or Blanket
The Chevy 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 the grass (that is occasionally wet), bring a small beach towel or blanket to sit on.
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.
Rain Jacket Or Poncho
A few years ago, it started pouring the rain during one of the nighttime 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’s set.
Buy ponchos in advance and keep them with you or bring a rain jacket. In seven years, we had one CMA Fest without any rain.
Weird, but you may get rained on the last night and don’t want to put wet clothes (or muddy shoes!) in your suitcase with everything else.
This is pretty self explanatory since you are spending all day outside. Baby wipes are another great idea.
The CMA Fest app allows you to create your own concert schedule based on which artists you want to see. Since there are so many people in Downtown Nashville during CMA Fest, I recommend either printing your personalized schedule or taking a screenshot of it. The app will not always load on demand.
Tip: Make plans with your friends and family ahead of time as texts and calls do not always go through.
Enjoy Your Time At CMA Fest
I hope that this CMA Fest Packing List helps you get ready for your trip. If you have anything to add, please let us know.
Have a great time!
Download your complete CMA Fest Packing List Here!
Need help planing the rest of your CMA Fest vacation?
Check out some of our other CMA Fest articles!
The Best CMA Fest Hacks
CMA Fest: What You Need To Know
Why We Are Ending Our CMA Fest Tradition