There's a reason Nashville is called Music City, since it's always lively and full of activities no matter the season. However, the Christmas season tends to be particularly more festive with lights, holiday house tours, and a stay at Gaylord Opryland Hotel topping the list of things to do in Nashville to celebrate the winter holidays.
Many holiday events have been scaled back or canceled in 2020, so be sure to confirm the most up-to-date details with the event organizers.
Franklin Holiday Lights Tour
Just south of Nashville in the city of Franklin, the annual Holiday Lights Tour is one of the most popular seasonal events in Middle Tennessee. Hop aboard the bright red Christmas trolley to sit back and relax while your guide drives you around the city to see the best of holiday lights, all while listening to seasonal songs and snacking on special treats. The trolley runs on select nights from December 1–23, 2020, and you can also book a private trolley if going with a group.
Experience some of the best holiday lights and festive displays that the Nashville area has to offer. Chad's Winter Wonderland has a drive-through Santa house, featuring Santa himself taking Christmas wish lists, a drive-through nativity scene, more than 350 pieces of Christmas scenery, a Christmas train, a dancing snowman, and many LED displays.
Christmas on the Cumberland has more than one million Christmas lights on display at McGregor Park in the city of Clarksville. The Dancing Lights of Christmas can be found at The James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon and is sure to thrill kids and adults
Take a Tour of Nashville's Holiday Homes
If you're in the Nashville area, you have plenty of options to tour historic homes during the holidays. Normally, you can tour the state's executive mansion, home of the governor, during Tennessee's Home for the Holidays event. However, the tour is taking place virtually in December 2020, so you can view the decorated mansion for free from wherever you are.
Another option is the Haunted Holiday Tour, which is a walk-through of President Andrew Jackson's historic plantation house. This tour mixes the best of Halloween and Christmas, as President Jackson's home is decorated for the holidays but the tour has a distinctly eerie feel. It's available throughout the season up until December 27, 2020.
The Historic Home Yuletide Tours at the Nashville Zoo give visitors a chance to see how the Victorians celebrated the holidays at the Grassmere Historic Home. However, the Historic Yuletide Tours are canceled in 2020.
Gaylord Opryland Hotel Country Christmas
Throughout the Christmas season, Gaylord Opryland Hotel hosts many holiday events and is all tricked out for the holidays with festive decor and more than 3 million twinkling lights that sparkle until midnight from November 13, 2020, through January 3, 2021. Get in the spirit of the season with hotel events such as live entertainment and holiday movies. The kids can go ice skating at the hotel's rink, ride a miniature train through Holiday Hall, and have their photo taken with Santa. There will also be scavenger hunts, gingerbread decorating sessions, and carriage rides.
While this event is usually free to enter and guests must pay for individual activities, like carriage rides or ice skating, the 2020 Country Christmas is a ticketed event. In order to enter, you'll either need to have a ticket already purchased or be a guest at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood Gardens
From November 20, 2020, to January 10, 2021, Holiday LIGHTS returns to Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. More than a million twinkling lights decorate the opulent property, coupled with an exhibition of blown-glass art by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. It's one of the most magical holiday experiences in Nashville, and this event sells out every year because it's so popular.
There are some changes for the 2020 Holiday LIGHTS, including timed entry tickets that must be reserved in advance. Also, while Santa is normally on-site to greet children, he won't be making an appearance in 2020. However, kids can bring their letters to Santa to drop off at the North Pole mailbox.
Reindeer Games: A Christmas Pop-Up Bar
For something a bit different, head to this Christmas-themed pop-up bar at HQ Beercade, located in Downtown Nashville right along the Riverfront. Because it's at a bar, this is an adults-only event. The HQ Beercade gets completely decked out for the holidays, with a light display that's worth a visit alone. The best part, however, is the annual Reindeer Games tournament. Taking place on select days from November 20 to December 15, 2020, come out for events like holiday trivia or "tipsy theater" with Christmas movies.
There are also drink specials to commemorate the holidays, along with the pinball machines and other arcade games that are at the bar year-round.