From celebrating the autumn season to getting in the Halloween holiday spirit, the city of Nashville is bustling with annual events and activities every October. Explore haunted houses, ghostly tours, pumpkin patches, fall foliage hikes, and even special corn mazes or pick through 150 miles of yard sales this year on your October trip to the capital of Tennessee.
If you're a fan of contemporary art, there's no place quite like Artclectic to see some of the talent Nashville has to offer. Artclectic began in 1996 with the desire to bring artists and their work to the University School of Nashville for a school fundraiser, and the event has since evolved into a nationally-respected art show that attracts loyal patrons and newcomers alike to view artworks by a carefully-selected group of talented emerging and established artists.
The show has included work by artists such as Katherine Stratton Miller, Bennet LeMaster, and Josh Yazdian, and changes every year. An array of mediums such as jewelry, painting, mixed media, and sculpture is presented in the show, and there are additional events on the weekend of the gallery show for parents, students, alumni, and community members.
Events for Artclectic 2019 take place from the Patron's Party on Thursday, October 24 to the Artcletic and POPclectic Artisan Market on Saturday, October 26. This year's ARTbash Happy Hour—a gallery party and art sale that's open to the public—takes place on Friday, October 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. and is free to attend.
Formerly known as Celebration of Cultures, the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival is an event that honors and embraces the city's diverse population through food, dance, art, and music. Celebrate Nashville encourages understanding, appreciation, and respect for the many cultures of the Greater Nashville community—where one in six residents is foreign-born—and is completely free to attend. The Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival takes place on Saturday, October 5, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Centennial Park. The festival also features hands-on activities for kids, a World Market and Global Village, various food vendors, a play area for kids, and a special teen's area hosted by the Oasis Center.
The Clarksville Oktoberfest is the first weekend in October each year, and upwards of 10,000 beer enthusiasts attend this festive event annually. Featuring authentic German food, music, dancing, and beer, the Dowtown Commons Oktoberfest is full of Bavarian flair and has been a tradition in Clarksville since its inception in 2018.
The Second Annual Clarksville Oktoberfest, presented by the Bikers Who Care Organization, takes place at the Downtown Commons on Saturday, October 5, 2019, from noon to 10 p.m. Highlights of the event include German musicians like the Prost and Die Mitternachters who perform each year, the annual Stein Hoist competition, wiener dog races, a brat-eating contest, carnival games, and a kids' zone with inflatables, face painting, and other fun activities.
Vanderbilt University—located between southwest Nashville's West End Park and Music Row neighborhoods—hosts a homecoming music festival each October. Known as Commodore Quake, this annual event celebrates all things music with performances by big-name acts like Migos and SZA. Commodore Quake takes place in the Vanderbilt Memorial Gymnasium on October 18, 2019, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are available to the general public but come at a reduced price for students, staff, faculty, and alumni of Vanderbilt University.
The Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art hosts a kid-friendly event every year in late October to celebrate the Halloween season. In 2019, the Halloween Pooch Parade returns on October 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a full day of activities. Preschoolers and young kids are invited to wear their favorite spooky or zany costume and head out to Cheekwood for a trick-or-treat trail in the Color Garden, themed art and science activities, and a Pumpkin House photo booth as well as the pooch parade itself.
The Grand Ole Opry House celebrates its annual Birthday Bash on the first weekend in October by offering a star-packed homecoming celebration including tons of entertainment like backstage tours, autograph sessions, and free music in the Opry Plaza. This weekend-long event also includes food trucks, live performances by popular artists, and activities like picnics and bingo. The 94th Annual Grand Ole Opry Birthday Bash takes place on October 4 and 5, 2019. Tickets are required to attend and can be purchased in advance or at the Box Office before each of the four birthday performances.
On the weekend before Halloween, the Tennesee State Museum hosts a free holiday celebration known as the Haunted Museum Storytelling Festival. This family-oriented event features a "ghost trail" through the exhibits where kids can take part in hands-on crafting, enjoy free refreshments, and win prizes all while guides share kid-friendly ghost stories about Tennessee's haunted past like the Bell Witch or the Cherokee spirit known as Spearfinger. Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes and join the annual parade, and the Nashville Public Library's Puppet Truck is also on-site at the event to tell even more ghost stories.
The Native American Indian Association (NAIA) of Tennessee's annual Indian Education Pow Wow and Arts Exhibition is a three-day festival celebrating the cultural heritage of the region's original inhabitants—25,000 of which still call the state home. Featuring a full gallery of arts and crafts, paintings, clothing, photography, and ceramics as well as plenty of booths offering authentic Native American cuisine like Indian tacos, chili, and fry bread, this annual event is billed as the largest Pow Wow east of the Mississippi. The 38th Annual Indian Education Pow Wow and Arts Exhibition takes place on October 18 to 20, 2019, at Long Hunter State Park in Nashville. While the event is free to attend, refreshments and merchandise can be purchased at the Pow Wow.
Held the first weekend of October, the Roller Coaster Yard Sale is a four-day, grassroots event that features 150 miles of yard sales stretching across two states. During the event, visitors will find everything from crafts, antiques, and handmade quilts to home-grown produce, flea markets, and even live performances and vendors of authentic southern cuisine. The Roller Coast Yard Sale spans from Mammoth Cave in Kentucky to Byrdstown in Tennessee highways 52, 63, and 111. Between shopping stops, guests can also enjoy the breathtaking views of fall foliage along the highways.
Every October, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville hosts the region's annual Free Day of Music event, which features free performances all day long. The lineup each year includes a wide variety of local ensembles as well as a portion of the Nashville Symphony and other big-name music artists. The event also features arts and craft-making, an "instrument petting zoo," food vendors, and a beer garden. In 2019, the Free Day of Music takes place on Sunday, October 20, from noon to 8 p.m.