15 Things to Do in Nashville in December

Gaylord Opryland

Bob Schatz

Nashville is a year-round destination thanks to its thriving music scene, lively bars, the nearby Jack Daniel's Distillery, and some slick new hotels. However, if you visit Nashville in December, you can also enjoy special holiday events and activities. Plus, if you visit in the first two weeks of the month, you'll likely find deals on airfare and hotel rates.

Below are the top things to do in Nashville throughout the month of December.

01 of 15

Celebrate Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

ICE! at Gaylord Opryland

Denise Mattox / Flickr

2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214, USA
Phone +1 615-889-1000

From mid-November until the week after Christmas, Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center promises non-stop holiday cheer, starting with the annual "A Country Christmas Lighting Ceremony" at Magnolia Lawn. At the annual ICE! exhibit, you can marvel at some two million pounds of ice carved into wondrous sculptures and even slides that you can ride. Other activities available throughout the resort include nightly caroling, ice skating lessons, carriage rides, ice tubing, and a holiday-themed riverboat cruise through the resort's Delta Atrium.

02 of 15

Make Crafts at Bass Pro Shops Santa’s Wonderland

323 Opry Mills Dr, Nashville, TN 37214, USA
Phone +1 615-514-5200

Between mid-November and Christmas Eve at Bass Pro Shops Santa’s Wonderland, shoppers can introduce their children to time-honored traditions of making crafts and holiday ornaments. Kids will have fun creating moose ornaments, reindeer cone ornaments, Santa bobbers, reindeer hats, candy cane reindeer, and Christmas cookies. Plus, photos with Santa are free!

03 of 15

Attend a Benefit Concert With Your Favorite Country Music Artists

 Christmas 4 Kids

116 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219, USA
Phone +1 615-889-3060

Christmas 4 Kids is an annual benefit concert held at the Ryman Auditorium, with the proceeds from the event going to more than 400 underprivileged children in Tennessee. At the concert, you can see the likes of country music artists such as Chris Young, The Frontmen, and Phil Vassar, and you will even have the opportunity to step inside their tour buses. Tickets cost $60 a person.

04 of 15

See the Country's Largest Chinese Lantern Festival

Copyright Jan Duke

Jan Duke

3777 Nolensville Pk, Nashville, TN 37211, USA
Phone +1 615-833-1534

This year, the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is putting on Zoolumination, the largest Chinese lantern festival in the country. The event, held nightly from mid-November through the first week of January, invites guests to wander around the zoological garden, lit up with mythical creatures and 1,000-plus silk lanterns after dark. Throughout the holiday season, the zoo is also home to a North Pole Village, where little kids can line up to meet Santa himself.

In addition to this, Metro Nashville Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Division collects donated toys for its annual Christmas Basket Program every year in early December at the Nashville Zoo. As a bonus, the zoo normally offers a complimentary admission ticket for every new toy donated.

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05 of 15

Meet Your Favorite Characters From 'A Christmas Carol'

Heritage Foundation of Williamson County

The annual "Dickens of a Christmas" event on Franklin's Historic Main Street brings the joy and charm of an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas by recreating the world of Charles Dickens's famous "A Christmas Carol." Throughout the weekend event, more than 100,000 visitors come to the outdoor street festival for music, dancing, and a chance to meet characters from Dickens's stories like Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge. On Dec. 10 and 11, 2022, the festival will celebrate its 37th anniversary!

06 of 15

Drive Through the Dancing Lights of Christmas

1033 Sparta Pike, Lebanon, TN 37087, USA

During the holiday season, you can drive through a winter wonderland at The Dancing Lights of Christmas in Lebanon, an approximate 40-minute drive east of Nashville. Dubbed the largest drive-thru light and music show in Tennessee, this family-run event features an expansive light display perfectly synced to music. This year, the display will be up and open from Nov. 11, 2022, to January 1, 2023; tickets are $30 per vehicle.

07 of 15

Get Cultured at Monthly Art Crawls

The Arts Company 

Every month, there are two fun-filled events for art lovers in Nashville and the surrounding area. On the first Saturday of the month, local art galleries throughout downtown Nashville host receptions and art openings, many with free wine and other light refreshments. As an added bonus, the First Saturday Art Crawl provides free shuttles between the galleries!

About an hour's drive north of Nashville, the First Thursday Art Walk is a monthly self-guided tour of Downtown Clarksville, highlighting local artists at several boutique shops, art galleries, and bars within a five-block radius. In addition to checking out the local art scene, visitors can also listen to live music and participate in other events.

On the first Friday of every month in and around downtown Franklin, you can tour downtown's art scene with the Franklin Art Crawl. Starting at 6 p.m., this evening tour is normally free and, as an added bonus, you can always get unlimited pick-up and drop-off service on their trolley service for a minimum charge, too.

08 of 15

Shop for Stocking Stuffers at the Nashville Farmers Market

 Nashville Farmers' Market

900 Rosa L Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN 37208, USA
Phone +1 615-880-2001

On Dec. 11 and 17, 2022, the Nashville Farmers Market will host a holiday market where you can shop for artisan stocking stuffers, jewelry, clothing, and ingredients for your holiday meal. As you browse the market, you can also enjoy seasonal drinks and treats, your favorite holiday tunes, and a photo booth (Santa will be there on the 11th!). No matter which day you go, be sure to wear your ugly Christmas sweater.

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09 of 15

Watch the Music City Bowl

 Michael Reaves

Philips Plaza (Building, 414 Union St UNIT 1010, Nashville, TN 37219, USA
Phone +1 615-743-3130

The Music City Bowl, held in late December, is an NCAA-sanctioned event that features the two top football conferences in the country: the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Big Ten Conference. Every year, hundreds of college athletes participate in the bowl and all of the special activities that Music City, USA provides during its Bowl Week experience like Fan Zone on Broadway.

MusicFest is the ultimate party atmosphere downtown the night before the Music City Bowl game. Thousands of fans will converge on world-famous 2nd Avenue for the outdoor party featuring SEC & ACC pep bands and cheerleaders. The event is open to the general public and admission is free.

10 of 15

See the Holiday Lights at Cheekwood

Cheekwood Mansion

Cheekwood Mansion

1200 Forrest Park Dr, Nashville, TN 37205, USA
Phone +1 615-356-8000

From mid-November through the first week of January, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens showcases the sights and sounds of the season by lighting up a 1-mile walking path through the gardens. The estate also hosts interactive displays and "dancing" trains, plus a holiday marketplace with holiday gifts and décor for sale. When you need a pick-me-up, you'll find bars serving up seasonal drinks as well as a s'mores station.

11 of 15

Celebrate a Century of Christmas at Belle Meade

Belle Meade, TN, USA

The historic Belle Meade is decorated for the holidays every year from the first week of November to the end of December. Tours are available of the house, which is decorated in Victorian-era style and gives visitors insight into how Christmas was celebrated during that time period. During your visit, you'll also be able to make an ornament that you can bring home with you.

12 of 15

Attend Yulefest at Historic Mansker's Station

705 Caldwell Dr, Goodlettsville, TN 37072-3446, USA
Phone +1 615-859-3678

Yule Fest is held at Goodlettsville Visitor's Center and Historic Mansker's Station during the first week of December. Historic Mansker's Station, a reconstructed frontier fort that dates back to 1779, is dressed for the holidays with fresh evergreens, ribbons, fruit, and candles. At the event, re-enactors ring in the Christmas season as they did in the 18th century. Go from cabin to cabin, or throughout the encampment, for refreshments, stories, and demonstrations.

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13 of 15

Take a Tour of Belmont Mansion

Tennessee's Home for the Holidays

Belmont University campus corner of Acklen Avenue & Belmont Blvd - behind Freeman Hall, 1901 15th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212, USA
Phone +1 615-460-5459

The Belmont Mansion, at one point the largest house in Tennessee and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a popular destination around the holidays. Every year, there are Christmas-themed tours, where guests can see the home all dressed up for the holidays and learn about Victorian Christmas traditions. This year, actor David Alford will also be performing a rendition of Turman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" and "The Thanksgiving Visitor" at the Belmont Mansion Grand Salon. Accompanied by guitarist Paul Carrol Binkley, the show will be taking place from the end of November to Dec. 3. Guided tours cost $22 per ticket; tickets to the show cost $45 a person.

14 of 15

Ride the North Pole Express

 Brent Gaddes

220 Willow St, Nashville, TN 37210-2159, USA
Phone +1 615-244-9001

From mid-November to mid-December, the Tennessee Central Railway Museum hosts North Pole Express-themed excursions onboard a streamlined stainless steel passenger train. Throughout the 2.5-hour trip, you can take pics with Santa and his elves and purchase snacks to munch on. The train departs from and returns to Nashville, with no layovers. Be sure to reserve your spot well in advance, as tickets are known to sell out quickly.

15 of 15

Attend the Nashville Christmas Parade

Piedmont Natural Gas Nashville Christmas Parade

For over 50 years, the Rudolph's Red Nose Christmas Parade has taken place in downtown Nashville. The parade is typically held the first weekend of December and famously attracts some of the best country music talent to board a float and perform for the crowd. You never know what to expect with everything from cloggers to cheerleaders parading through the streets.

Editor's Note: The Nashville Christmas Parade is not being held in person in 2022; instead, the producers invite everyone to tune into the Nashville Holiday Music Special, which will air nationwide in December.

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15 Things to Do in Nashville in December