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Christmas in Nashville: The Top Family Activities

Whether you live in the Nashville area or plan on traveling to Music City over the next couple of months, there are plenty of things to do at Christmas time.  From light shows to the ballet, there is something for everyone. We’ve rounded up some of the tops things to do during Christmas in Nashville.

Now that Halloween is long gone and Thanksgiving is around the corner, most people are in full on Christmas mode.  While I try to keep the holidays separate, there’s just something about twinkling lights and Christmas trees that we just can’t pass up- regardless of how early in November it may be. Read along for all the fun festivities this year.

If you’re coming to visit Nashville, make sure you download our FREE guide to the best of Nashville with kids! There’s tons of info including our favorite places to eat, great activities, and some options for where to stay.

Gaylord’s A Country Christmas

Opryland Hotel at Christmas is an over-the-top holiday experience.  You could easily spend an entire weekend participating in all of the activities here.  The expansive hotel is lit from floor to ceiling with twinkling lights and you’ll be surrounded by beautiful greenery and poinsettias as you wander around.  Besides exploring the massive atriums, you can also visit Santa and decorate gingerbread houses.  

Every year they have Ice!, a walk through experience with over 2 million pounds of carved ice. The theme changes yearly, and has ranged from the traditional Christmas nativity story to How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  

Other activities this year will include a Rudolph musical at the world-famous Opry House, an ice skating rink, and snow tubing.

The Country Christmas events and lights will run from November 8 to January 1.  Check out their website for more information and pricing.

atrium of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel lit up and decorated for Christmas
inside the Opryland Hotel | photo:


A visit to Cheekwood is a staple for us around Christmas time here in Nashville.  The entirety of the estate grounds are illuminated for a walk through light show, while the interior of the home is decorated with beautiful greenery and poinsettias. The light show here is truly impressive.

Cheekwood holiday lights

After checking out the lights, you can stop by to see the reindeer.  This is by far, our kids favorite part of the entire experience.  We always wait until the end to see the reindeer so they can spend plenty of time guessing which of Santa’s helpers they are.    

Speaking of Santa, you can see him here every evening in December and on Saturday mornings.  He is THE BEST Santa we’ve encountered in the Nashville area so far.  Make sure to get there early, as he is obviously quite popular.  

little girl meeting with Santa at Cheekwood
meeting with Santa | Cheekwood

There are onsite s’mores stations and options for cocktails.  The cafe is open for dinner, and food trucks are there some nights.  

The lights will run from November 23 to January 5, opening at 5pm each night.  For more information and tickets, see their site.

Glow Nashville

This will be the inaugural year for GLOW.  First Tennessee Park, better known as the Sounds’ stadium, will be taken over by what is being called “Nashville’s brightest Christmas experience”.   They plan to have over 4 million lights in the display, as well as ice sculptures, and a 100 foot Christmas tree.  

There will also be an ice skating rink and tubing activities.  Santa’s workshop will be open, with Mrs. Claus leading story time, and Santa will be ready for pictures.  

Other onsite options will include a cafe with live music, a bar with cocktails and a Christmas market with local vendors.  We can’t wait to visit and report back.  

This will run from November 22 to December 31, from 4pm to 10pm each night.  For more information and tickets, please see their site

Cheekwood poinsettia tree

Zoolumination: Chinese Festival of Lights

The zoo will be aglow with the largest lantern show in the country. Lanterns in the shape of zoo animals have been meticulously designed to actual size.  Other lanterns will include flowers and animals spread throughout the park, along with a dragon over 100 yards in length.

Santa’s village will be open, made entirely out of lanterns and filled with light displays, trees, and music provided by a local choirs and bands.

We’ve never been to this, but are definitely excited to check it out this season.

This will run from November 15 through February 2, opening each night from 5pm-9pm.  For more information see their site.  


Dickens Christmas Festival

If you want to venture a little further south, be sure to check out the Dickens Christmas in Franklin.  The picturesque Main Street is lined with local vendors, as actors in period dress glide down the streets, making it feel as if you stepped back in time.  

The outdoor festival includes food options and often has holiday themed activities and photo booth options.  The festival will be held December 14th and 15th in historic Franklin. This is a free event, but check out this page for more info.

Dickens Christmas festival

Nashville Ballet Nutcracker

Grab tickets for what is one of the most quintessential holiday performances, The Nutcracker.  Every year, the Nashville Ballet follows Clara as she travels to the magical Land of Sweets on Christmas Eve.

Although recommended for any age, we’ve held out on this activity so far. However, I hope to take our daughter this year for a fun mommy-daughter day out.  I think she will absolutely love the over the top scenes, along with all the ballerinas.  

The two hour show will run every weekend in December with two final performances on Monday, December 23.  For more information and tickets, see their page

Make sure to let us know which of these were your favorite. We can’t wait to report back on which is our new favorite!

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