Holiday Lights and Nashville Nights

Some may be surprised that little ol’ Middle Tennessee is second to nowhere when it comes to holiday action. If it’s fun and festive, you will find it here. 

Light enthusiasts CANNOT miss the Dancing Lights of Christmas in Lebanon. It’s Christmas music synchronized to the largest (1.5 million) lights display in all of Middle Tennessee. At the end of the drive, park and let the revved-up kids have more fun at Santa’s Village. Open nightly through January 2.

Also, through January 2, is Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas. There’s an ice extravaganza with the highest ice slide in Tennessee, a very cool walk-through section, two million pounds of ice sculptures, hand-carved scenes from ‘A Christmas Story,’ and a space in clear ice devoted to the nativity. This year, Mission Saves Christmas featuring Elf is all the rage. It’s a sensory experience that includes 12 interactive elements and scenes from the movie. And if none of those strike your fancy, there’s The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas in Tennessee Dinner Show, Christmas-themed scavenger hunts, ice skating, and ice bumper cars. 

Christmas without the Nutcracker ballet?? Bite your tongue! The enchanting classic with Clara, the Sugarplum Fairy, and the land of sweets, is presented by the Nashville Ballet in Clarksville and runs from Dec. 15-24. 

If you are an ice skater, or can at least manage to stand up on skates, Clarksville Winter Ice Rink at Downtown Commons is open now through the first week of January. 

Then there are Tennessee Christmas cruises along the Cumberland River on the General Jackson Showboat. Lively Christmas songs, a cozy, festive, climate-controlled boat, and a delicious holiday meal are tied up into a perfect package. There are midday and evening cruises during December.

A Tennessee holiday without a stroll through Cheekwood Gardens (through January 9) isn’t a holiday. That’s not true, but it’s pretty awesome.  The mile-long path covered in a million lights showcases the gardens. This year’s breathtaking 20-foot-tall tree is covered in orchids. There’s also a wonderland for the kids, plus everyone gets the chance to meet Santa’s all-important reindeer. 

Another kid favorite is Reindeer Run Tube Park (open through December 31), where people of all ages grab a tube and glide down the 32-foot-tall tube slide. Use all your extra energy to hoof it up to the top of the park for a fabulous few of the skyline. Fun and exercise! Who knew that was possible!?

Now, for the big kids. If there’s a cool, hip, or rad bone in your body, you know about pop-ups. Not the blocker kind, but the temporary bar/restaurant kind. There are too many to mention all, but these are a few faves.

Head to Misfit Bar in the penthouse of the Fairlane Hotel. There you will find cocktails, like spiked hot chocolate and lots of winter-themed drinks. There are Christmas cookies and a cheese and charcuterie board for snacking, as well as plentiful photo ops. Open through January 4.

Camp Bobby is open through February of 2022, so you don’t have to do a reindeer dash to hang out in the hip, ’70s-style rooftop Camper Lounge, with a personal campfire and igloo. The “frozen pond,” is new this year, and offers ice skating 10 stories above downtown Nashville.

Snow Globe is in the JW Marriott Nashville’s Duke Lounge at Cumberland Bar. It’s a sensory experience that includes falling snow, holiday scents, a 42-foot-wide LED wall, 360-degree spatial audio, and of course, holiday cocktails. It’s open through December.

So get out there and experience all that Nashville has to offer during the holiday season. As you can see, there’s something for everyone!

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