With CMA Fest 2016 kicking off this week, I thought it would be a good idea to post a review of last years CMA Fest experience. For those of you who have not been to this extremely large country music festival before or for those who want to cross it off your bucket list, reading this article should shed some light on what you can expect during your trip.
If you have ever been to a music festival, you know how busy, exciting, crazy, loud and intense they can be! These music festivals have been bringing in fans from all across the world for many years. There are music festivals for all types of music lovers. These festivals can be big or small, but they all do the same thing. They unite fans from around the world to share their love for the music, the artist, the lyrics and the feelings of euphoria. Nashville, TN. is home to the CMA Fest, which is known as one of the biggest, if not the biggest country music festival in the United States. Few of these festivals compare to CMA Fest, which is a 4 day festival that packs the fans in and is estimated to have brought in 40 Million Dollars this year!
Nashville, TN. is to country music, what LA/Hollywood is for movies. There is so much to do and see in "Music City". It is no wonder that so many aspiring country artists make their way to Nashville. This city is so alive, full of talent, and filled with places to see and visit. Nashville is home to many Museums, like the Johnny Cash Museum (my personal favorite), Music Halls such as the Ryman auditorium, the Opry, Pedestrian Bridge, the Bat Man building and so much more! I suggest staying a little longer than just the 4 days of the CMA Fest as there is just so much to do and see here. Music is the heart of Nashville and trust me you will LOVE every bit of it. There are so many tours offered at places like the County Music Hall of Fame, with exhibits that are absolutely breathtaking to see. You can go to some historic places or even just popular places like the Bluebird Cafe! My favorite place to go is Mike's Ice Cream and Coffee Shop (on Broadway between 4th and 5th)! You have to try the Tennessee Fudge ice cream in one of their fresh made waffle cones. They are just to die for!!!
Many of your favorite artists live in Nashville and can be found dining at a local restaurant, singing at a local bar, or shopping at places like Whole Foods and before you ask, YES! I have seen stars like Kenny Chesney walking down the street during CMA Fest enjoying every moment just as normal as anyone else. You may even find stars from the hit TV Show, "The Voice" shopping for souvenirs like, Cody Wickline! This festival brings in so many artists. There are plenty of big names as well as so many new and up and coming artists, that in 4 days it is impossible to see them all!
Whether you drive, fly, take the train or ride the bus (like I did from California...adventure story to follow), you are going to find yourself so excited upon arrival that you will forget about any mishaps you may have encountered on your journey. The minute you arrive in this vibrant city, the excitement and thrills of seeing all of your favorite stars, and possibly meeting one you have dreamt of takes over. You become more exhilarated than you ever imagined. Some feel the complete madness take over as they attempt to fill an autograph book, or as they try to obtain selfies with all of their favorite stars. It is a complete intoxication of extremely gorgeous men/women shaking it on stage, talent that is unmatched, laughter from funny moments and FREE SWAG!!!!
The toughest part of CMA Fest is all of the choices you have. What do you do each of the 4 fun filled days? If you are a seasoned CMA Fest attendee, chances are you have all of your schedules printed, stages and times highlighted or circled, or you have your mobile app already set up with alarms for each event you plan on attending. There is so much going on that it can be a bit overwhelming if you have not planned it out ahead of time. Keep in mind, there are always surprises added, so even if you do plan, well...those could change. If you are like so many that I saw this year that were just there for the fun, then don't sweat it. There are so many stages, a ton of artists and many vendors to visit. Make sure you pay attention to all of the meet and greet opportunities as well! Spoiler alert....ALWAYS be willing to wait. Even if you show up to a meet and greet that requires tickets, chances are if you wait in the hopeful line, or seem really excited to meet someone, they will let you!
For all of you who are thinking about visiting Nashville and all it's glory during this festival, but you have limited funds, here are some tips. Except for the Nissan Stadium stage, which require tickets, most all the stages are free. The Riverfront Stage is also home to many big name artists, so you will not be disappointed. There are stages EVERYWHERE!!!! Do your research. If you are planning on buying tickets to the Nissan Stadium shows for all the Top Acts, you better hurry. These sell out fast. You will have plenty of chances to win free tickets though, so be on the lookout for vendors who are giving them away. Another thing to be aware of is the food cost. It can be very pricey if you have not packed any snacks. Take what you can to keep yourself hydrated as well. June is a very hot month the majority of the time. You will find that there will be many vendors sampling food/drink products, so stop by often to avoid spending a ton of money if you are on a budget. Also, don't forget about all of the bars up and down Broadway along with the surrounding streets, as they serve great and affordable food too! I have to say, I LOVE the food at Tin Roof!
I will leave you with this. Whether or not you have been to any festival in the past, attending CMA Fest is sure to be a life long memory. There will be moments you will cherish forever, like watching someone meet a Hero that is "home" to them (RIP Lynn Anderson). You will be in awe of the beauty found in this enchanting city that is full of the echoes of musicians who have struggled and fought to bring you the joy of their life's precious work. You will be inspired by the new artists that are performing at CMA Fest for the first time and the emotion that is inside of them. You will be elated at the very moment you get to shake the hand or take a picture with an artist you love and admire, and you will be ignited when you see the look on the faces of the die hard fans toting around a guitar that they have collected signatures on from some of their very favorite musicians. The beauty of this event will be etched in your memory forever. Now...will YOU be joining me in Nashville June 9th-12th for CMA fest 2016? I hope to see you there! ~Missy