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. And with an average high of 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) throughout the month, it's one of the most pleasant times of the year to enjoy being outside with great weather. Music concerts, pumpkin patch events, art shows, and a 150-mile yard sale are just a taste of some of the events you can enjoy in Nashville in October.
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. 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 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 2020 take place virtually from October 16 to October 23, with the art available online to view and purchase. The typical social events, such as happy hour for patrons and alumni coffee, will be held via videoconference, and guests can tune in from anywhere in the world.
Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival
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 3, 2020, 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 Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art in Nashville hosts a kid-friendly and pet-friendly event every year in late October to celebrate the Halloween season. In 2020, Howl'Oween returns on October 31 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a full day of activities. Bring your pooch in a costume to take place in the animal costume contest, or if you don't have your own dog to dress up, just come and gawk at the adorable pets of others. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., there will be a pet portrait workshop where an artist will sketch a picture of your dog, cat, bird, snake, or whatever pet you have and then guide attendees on how to paint it. The portrait workshop requires an extra fee and advance registration.
Grand Ole Opry Birthday Bash
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 95th Annual Grand Ole Opry Birthday Bash takes place on October 2 and 3, 2020. Tickets are required to attend and can be purchased in advance or at the Box Office before each of the four birthday performances.
Haunted Museum Storytelling Festival
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 2020 festival is a virtual event taking place every weekend throughout October, with online games and spooky readings of original stories that you can enjoy from home.
Roller Coaster Yard Sale
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. Between shopping stops, guests can also enjoy the breathtaking views of fall foliage through the Appalachian region.
The Roller Coast Yard Sale is ideal for a full-day excursion or to visit as a pitstop on your road trip to Knoxville or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, since it's about two hours outside of Nashville. It spans a twisting area from Livingston, Tennessee, all the way up to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Starting in Livingston, you can travel north on either State Route 52 or State Route 111 toward the Kentucky border. To travel the entire roller coaster, continue on the full route through Kentucky and loop all the way back to Livingston.
Schermerhorn Free Day of Music
All concerts at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center are canceled in 2020.
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.
Commodore Quake is canceled in 2020.
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 Megan Thee Stallion, Migos, and SZA. Commodore Quake takes place in the Vanderbilt Memorial Gymnasium. Tickets are available to the general public but come at a reduced price for students, staff, faculty, and alumni of Vanderbilt University.
NAIA Indian Education Pow Wow and Arts Exhibition
The Tennessee Education Pow Wow is canceled in 2020.
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 Pow Wow takes place at Long Hunter State Park, about 45 minutes outside of Nashville's city center. While the event is free to attend, refreshments and merchandise can be purchased at the Pow Wow.
Clarksville Oktoberfest is canceled in 2020.
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.
Even though Clarksville is an hour north of Nashville, Oktoberfest is well-worth the drive. 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.