As we all take a collective breath and wind down from another active Christmas season, I thought I would reflect on some of the good and bad of Christmas activities in Nashville. If you’ve never been to the Music City but considering a visit during the Christmas season in the future, here are some things that were on the naughty or nice list for a Nashville Christmas:
First, let’s start with the naughty list for a Nashville Christmas:
- Dancing Lights of Christmas – this almost didn’t happen this year and maybe it shouldn’t have. In the past, this was hosted at Jellystone Park near the Opryland area. They were forced to move this to the Wilson County Fairgrounds. In my opinion, the lights were too spread apart. At $25 per car, it was rather pricey for something like this.
- Lower Broadway – My advice for anyone would be just to stay away from the honky tonks and bars on Lower Broadway unless that’s your thing. If not, you’re not missing anything if you don’t go.
- Most Any Christmas Parade – Sorry, but I have a short-attention span for Christmas parades. They are usually too early and during the day. Shouldn’t a Christmas parade be at night so you can see the lights?
- The New Dillard’s and the rest of Green Hills Mall – If you are shopping you will be challenged with the Green Hills Mall – especially if you include a trip to Dillards. The new Dillards is currently totally separate from the rest of the mall. I think they are going to eventually connect them but I would avoid it unless you simply HAD to go to Dillards.
- White Lights Everywhere – There was obviously a memo to homeowners to only use white lights for their decorations. When driving around to look at Christmas lights about 75% of most homes only had white lights (and don’t get me started on those “star shower” projections).
- ICE at Opryland – If you want to waste your money go here. Sure they have the “snow tubing” there too but it isn’t what you think it will be. The ICE part is very cold as you can guess so you won’t be in there long either. We have done this a couple of times and avoided it this year. I would say skip it.
Now, let’s look at the nice list for a Nashville Christmas:
- BJ’s Christmas Lights on Sunnyside – Unfortunately, this was the last year of this full-scale display which typically includes all the surrounding houses in the cul-de-sac. This year ends the 35-year full scale display which was started in memory of Bill Minneci’s late son. You can’t just drive by it, you have to park and walk up the long driveway to enjoy the display.
- Lights on Old Charlotte – It takes a little trip to get here and a very narrow road but it is worth it to see the lights on display which are synchronized to music. You will want to park along the side of the road to enjoy a song or two before moving on.
- Fiddle Dee Farms Christmas Festival – This was the first year of what I hope will be an annual tradition as the farm which already hosts a fall festival decided to try something new and transform into a Christmas festival. We really loved the fire pit and some of the best hot chocolate we have had so far.
- Walk Thru Bethlehem at Woodmont Christian Church – This turned out to be a lot better than I expected it to be. It was done very well. Nothing cheesy about it at all. Instead of a flannel graph experience, you get transported back to the market in ancient Bethlehem.
- Holiday Lights at Cheekwood – We haven’t been able to do this yet but it is always a good Christmas stop in Nashville. If you don’t doing a little walking and braving the cold, you will definitely see an awesome light display. Hint: You can get a sneak peek if you drive along Cheek Road which is adjacent to it. You’ll be tempted to go in.
- The Star (movie) – It’s always nice to find a good Christmas movie at a local theater. We found it this year in “The Star”. It was a very inspiring animated movie.
One Christmas event that can go either way is Dickens of a Christmas in Franklin. The good is that you will see people dressed up in the Dickens Christmas Carol period. The bad is the crowds. The entire downtown area is filled with vendors of all kinds and people jam the streets for this two-day festival. If you get claustrophobic then you might want to pass on this.
Another event that wasn’t good or bad was listening to the Christmas Eve Carillon Bells at Belmont University. You will need to dress warmly and have a place to sit. It lasts about an hour but an annual tradition you might want to consider.
Don’t expect a White Christmas in Nashville. We did get a few minutes of light snow flurries on Christmas night but it is rare to have any snow here on Christmas Day. The last time Nashville had a measurable amount of snow on Christmas Day was in 2010.
Shopping is always one of the activities during the Christmas season. Here are some places I would recommend you to avoid unless you put on a helmet and pads before going in:
- Opry Mills
- The ribbon aisle of Michael’s
- Any grocery store on Christmas eve
- Cool Springs Galleria
- Honeybaked Ham Store (many thanks to my wife for braving the mobs in these stores twice this season)
Some of my favorite shopping experiences this season were:
- Phillips Toy Mart
- Online Pickup at Target stores
- Green Hills Mall (after you find a place to park)
- Nashville Predators’ team store
Okay, so Christmas in Nashville isn’t all about Country Music (thank goodness). You don’t have to be a Country Music fan to enjoy the activities here during Christmas, you just need to know some of the good and bad experiences on the list of activities. One of the difficult things about living here is getting the information about these events. We rely on websites such as Nashville Guru, Nashville Fun For Families, Now Playing Nashville and the Tennessean.
So that’s a wrap on Christmas in Nashville for 2017.