The CMA Fest Guide: A Country Music Fan’s Dream

The biggest country music stars, all in one place, for four straight days of singing your heart out and the best fan experience is what CMA Fest is all about. They may be four of the longest days but they are four of the most glorious if you live and breathe country music. Whether you attend one night or all, this festival really does it well with a focus on its fans. This CMA Fest guide will help you get the most out of your experience.

This guide will help make these amazing festival days a little easier on you, and not miss any part of CMA Fest. The following recommendations will help you attend every bit of the festival you want and survive all four days.

Each day there are multiple stages to see the biggest stars of today and the upcoming ones of tomorrow. You can meet some of these stars at Fan Fair X in the convention center as well as check out some amazing local food trucks. Each night you will embark into Nissan Stadium to jam out to the biggest songs and legendary hits. If you love country music, we cannot recommend looking into attend this festival enough.

1. Wear comfy shoes during the day

CMA Fest is four long days of walking, standing and dancing. We are the first people to throw on our boots or fancy shoes but during the day, we highly recommend wearing your comfiest shoes. If you want to wear your fancy ones at night, throw them in your car if you park or run back to where you are staying in between the day and night portions. Last year we left the day stages a little early so that we could run home, shower and change for the night. This is when we threw on our boots and got refreshed for the night. If you chose to wear your fancy shoes all day, just be prepared because they are super long days.

2. Prep for the long haul

This festival really is a marathon not a sprint even if you are just attending for one day. Be sure to prep for the long haul and remember your sunscreen, portable charger and any other supplies to make your days easier. If you are worried about carrying everything, get a clear backpack you can throw on and not pay much attention too.

3. The main day stage fills up

The Riverfront stage is the main stage during the day and it is a blast with a beautiful view of the river. If you want to be close to the stage on the rail, be there when they open the gates. Maybe not Thursday, but Friday and Saturday for sure, this stage reaches capacity before noon. You will get an alert on the app when this happens. This means you can not get in unless you have Riverside Retreat passes. Be aware of this and plan accordingly if there are artists you want to see so that you don’t miss them!

4. The app is your best friend and so is planning

Speaking of the app, it really is your lifeline during the festival. It has all the information you could need and outlines all the artists. It breaks down which artists are what stages and you can see real time who is playing where. This is incredibly helpful when planning your day out so that you don’t miss anyone you want to see. It also shows the meet and greet schedule and lets you know when stages are at capacity.

5. Riverside Retreat

This retreat is an experience that you can add on to your CMA Fest tickets. It is located at the Riverfront stage and has many perks including always getting access to the stage even at capacity, discounted drinks and air conditioned bathrooms. While this retreat is not necessary, the added perks really make your festival experience better. Tickets may be sold out for this year but it is worth it to check! Even if you can get just single day tickets to the retreat, they are worth it especially on Friday and Saturday when the stage reaches capacity early.

6. Don’t miss the bars on Broadway

There is so much more to CMA fest than just the stages during the day. Because all of the big names are in town, you never know who will pop up at the bars downtown. Black Shelton’s bar Ole Red hosts Spotify House during the festival and they bring in big guests and even surprise ones. You can get into the bars too if you don’t have CMA fest tickets or if the stages are at capacity. Also, if you don’t have night tickets and are looking for something to do, check out Ascend Amphitheater or the Grand Ole Opry to see even more big stars.

7. Make use of the breaks between the artists at night

The night shows are so fun! You will enjoy every artist and you won’t even notice how tired you are. Even as midnight nears and the energy is down a little bit, whoever the last artist is will get the energy going once again. There is roughly twenty minutes in between artists for them to get ready for the next act and this is the perfect time to run to the restroom or refresh your drink. Make sure to take advantage of these breaks because it helps with the long haul.

8. Additional information and recommendations
  • Get parking at Nissan Stadium if possible, it makes day and night so easy and there is a shuttle from the parking lot to downtown during the day
  • The entire festival has a clear bag policy
  • Stop in the convention center for Fan Fair X and soak in some air conditioning and unique vendors as well as the meet and greet
  • Check out the food trucks they have for lunch (M.L. Rose was our favorite last year)
  • Get merch early because they will sell out of certain items
  • Don’t forget your ID, no matter your age, and make sure it isn’t expired (bouncers in Nashville can be sticklers)
  • Soak it all in and sing your heart out

We hope you have the best CMA Fest experience and enjoy all that Nashville has to offer!

We would love to hear your festival stories and let us know if you have any questions!

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