This post covers the top things to do in December in Nashville (updated for 2021), including nighttime activities, free things to do, and family-friendly options.
Be sure to read our master post on things to do in Nashville for even more ideas.
This top 10 list has concerts, events, attractions, and festivals to check out during December.
Be sure to check out our popular Nashville posts:
- Hop-On Hop-Off Tours
- Tourist Attraction Discount Passes
- Country Music Hall of Fame Discounts
- Madame Tussauds Nashville
- Andrew Jackson's Hermitage Discounts
1. See a Concert
If you’re looking for a concert, Music City is the place to find it. You can find all the concerts in Nashville here.
We've listed some of the biggest names below:
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra | Dec 1st
- Jinjer and Suicide Silence | Dec 4th
- Nelly | Dec 5th
- Dream Theater | Dec 6th
- Pink Sweat$ | Dec 6th
- Home Free | Dec 7th
- Sarah Brightman | Dec 11th
- Chicago | Dec 15th
- The Protomen | Dec 31st
There will also be several performances at the Grand Ole Opry.
Of course, in Nashville, you can find concerts happening every night of the week! Here are some of the most popular venues:
2. Go to a Sporting Event
Nashville is a competitive city that loves its sports!
Check out the teams playing in Nashville this December.
The Nashville Predators will be playing multiple home games this month, giving hockey fans plenty of opportunities to see a live NHL game.
However, the The Tennessee Titans will be performing at least once in December, and limited tickets may be available.
Take a look at all the events happening in December.
For more family-friendly activities, check out our full post.
3. Experience the Nashville Symphony
The Nashville Symphony will be performing two holiday themed concerts during the month of December.
The first show will be a live performance of music from the holiday classic The Muppet Christmas Carol, available on December 3rd, 4th, and 5th.
Alternatively, you can also enjoy a Music City Christmas which will include several popular holiday songs, dancers, Broadway singers, and even an appearance from Santa himself!
This show will run from December 16th - 19th, and it's a perfect idea for families who want to celebrate Christmas in a memorable way.
4. See The Trailer Park Boys
Fans of these hilarious comedians won't want to miss this golden opportunity to see the boys at none other than Ryman Auditorium.
This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Trailer Park Boys, and they're celebrating Christmas in style with this live performance on December 12th, 2021.
If you're a fan of this hilarious show and you want to see your favorite trio of Canadians live on stage, make sure to get tickets for this event.
5. See the Cheekwood Holiday Lights
Every year, the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens hosts a holiday lighting event throughout the month of December with more than a million lights spread across 55 acres of botanic gardens!
This event is still scheduled to take place between November 20th, 2021 - January 9th, 2022.
But, they have indicated their dates and hours may change depending upon CDC recommendations as a result of the pandemic.
According to current plants, the Cheekwood Holiday Lights will be open 7 nights a week, and this event will include a Reindeer Village, Children's Wonderland, Trains, and more.
6. Experience a Gaylord Opryland Christmas
The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center will be hosting several incredible experiences in 2021 which will help visitors get into the holiday spirit.
Although they have yet to announce their official plans for 2021, you can usually look forward to several fun activities including the following:
- Ice skating
- Gingerbread house decorating
- Holiday fountain shows
- Photos with Santa
- Christmas lights
- Christmas caroling
- And more!
This is sure to be one of the best family activities in Nashville, so we recommend getting your tickets as soon as possible!
7. Franktown Festival of Lights
We love a good holiday light display, especially one we can enjoy from the warmth of our car!
Although this event has yet to be confirmed for 2021, chances are they will bring back the Franktown Festival of Lights once again this holiday season.
Tickets are $25 per car and the proceeds benefit Franktown Open Hearts. Get your ticket here.
For a full list of things to do at night in Nashville, check out our full post here.
8. Annual Nashville Christmas Parade
Since 1927, the Nashville Christmas Parade has been something everyone can look forward to during the holiday season!
The parade went virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic. We don't yet know if it will return as an in-person event in 2021, but even if it doesn't, chances are you can still enjoy it virtually.
There are often incredible performers including dancers, choirs and marching bands.
9. See The Nutcracker
Music City isn’t just all concerts. You can find theatre and ballet performances, too!
There will only be one major show to see this year, and it will be the Nashville Ballet performing The Nutcracker.
The Nashville Ballet has a great reputation and their performance of The Nutcracker is sure to be a wonderful experience.
Find all of Nashville's theatrical performances here.
For more family-friendly things to do in Nashville in December, check out the kids' section below.
10. Save Money with a Nashville Tourist Attraction Discount Pass
With all the exciting things there are to do in Music City, we suggest getting a tourist city pass for Nashville.
All-inclusive passes are available, and others can include up to 55% discounts on retail prices for select attraction admission, gift shops, and restaurants.
Featured on Various Passes:
See our full tourist attraction discount pass comparison here.
Nashville has some incredible things to do after dark in December, including the concerts at the venues we've listed in our Top Ten section above.
Here are a few more night time activities for the month of December.
For more nighttime activities, visit our post on things to do at night in Nashville.
11. Find a Film at Belcourt Theatre
Escape the December cold at the Belcourt Theatre. This is a nonprofit, historic movie theatre and film center that has been in operation since the 1920s.
You can find showings for big Hollywood movies, small screenings from independent filmmakers, or special re-releases of classics.
NOTE: You might be required to wear a mask or socially distance if the theatre is open in order to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.
12. Museums Open Late
The Frist Art Museum is open until 9:00 pm on Thursdays and Fridays and the George Jones Museum open 10:00 am to 10:00 pm most days, and open until 1:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays.
NOTE: If the museums are open late this year, you should expect certain procedures to be in place to help protect visitors from illness, such as mask requirements and social distancing protocols.
13. Visit a Comedy Club
While most big cities have comedy clubs, each is unique to their location. It's a great way to meet locals and get a sense of a city.
In Nashville, Zanies has been around for over 30 years and it a great place to catch a stand-up routine.
Professional comedians from across the country pass through its doors, and you can catch a show almost every night of the week.
There's also food and drink available to turn it into dinner and a show.
NOTE: You may be required to observe social distancing or mask guidelines at local comedy clubs in Nashville due to the pandemic.
14. Beer, Bands, and Bingo
Come out every Tuesday to Fat Bottom Brewing for a night of beer, bands, and bingo! Along with a great show, there will be plenty of prizes to win as you bingo the night away. It's free to attend and there's no registration necessary! Learn more here.
TIP: This event may be canceled or require you to wear a mask and observe social distancing due to the pandemic.
For more free things to do in Nashville, check out our master post here.
Nashville has a bunch of free stuff to do year-round. We've mentioned some in our other sections, like the Beer, Bands, and Bingo event.
For even more budget-friendly ideas, check out our post on free things to do in Nashville.
15. Dickens of a Christmas
Historic Downtown Franklin is hosting this free street festival that takes you back to the time of Charles Dickens.
As you stroll through you'll recognize the beloved characters of Dickens' stories like Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and more! Most of the activities are free, though some do cost a small fee.
The event takes place on December 11th and 12th in 2021.
There will be carriage rides, vintage craft demonstrations, foods to sample from the era, and more! To learn more, click here.
16. Sightseeing Tours
Free Nashville Tours has the best reviews for a tips-based tour of Music City’s downtown. The tour lasts 90 minutes and is led by a local born and bred Nashvillian.
The tour is a nice welcome to the city with many recommendations for other things to do and places to eat/drink/dance, but it is light on history.
There is a lot of history in downtown Nashville to cover in 90 minutes so if you’re interested in some of the hidden stories, check out our self-guided tour to downtown Nashville.
17. Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show
Nov 29th-Dec 4th, 2021
There are some beautiful things to discover and buy at the Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show!
Vendors will be at the Gatlinburg Convention Center Monday-Saturday from 10 am - 5 pm and Sunday from 10 am - 4 pm to display their unique handmade work.
You'll find everything from quilts, hand-woven baskets, pottery, candles, and more that will make perfect holiday gifts!
Admission is free so bring the whole family!
18. Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays
You're invited to tour the governor's home this winter at the annual Tennessee's Home for the Holidays open house.
Take a tour of the Tennessee Residence that was built in 1929 and hear about the history of the home and see it dressed up for the holidays.
To learn more click here.
NOTE: This event has not been confirmed for 2021.
Nashville is super family-friendly! There are also so many activity options available, there is sure to be something to fit everyone's tastes.
A few activities we've listed above like visiting the museums open late listed in our nighttime section above are perfect for the whole family!
Be sure to read our master post on things to do with kids in Nashville for even more ideas.
19. Zoolumination: Chinese Festival of Lights
The Nashville Zoo lights up this December with the nation's largest Chinese lantern festival.
Included in the holiday scenes made up of silk lanterns is a 200-foot-long dragon.
The display is open nightly from 5:00 - 9:00 pm from November 15 - December 30, with the exception of November 28, December 24, & December 25.
Tickets are $19 for adults, $14 for children (2-12), and free for children under 2.
NOTE: This event has not been confirmed for 2021, but being that they are hosting all of their typical holiday events this year, chances are it will return in December.
20. Visit the Tennessee State Capitol
Visiting the Tennessee State Capitol is a great educational way to spend the day, plus it's free! Built in 1859, it's one of the oldest state capitol buildings in the country.
You can even go on a free guided tours of the historic State Capitol and the grounds surrounding the building.
Tours take place Monday-Friday on the hour from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (skipping 12pm).
For more free things to do in Nashville in December, check out our free section above.
NOTE: As of right now, the Tennessee State Capitol is still temporarily closed due to the pandemic. This activity might not be available during the 2020 holiday season.
21. Storytime at the Tennessee State Museum
The Tennessee State Museum is a free museum and has the most comprehensive display of the state's history. While great for all ages, they also host a storytime for children every Thursday and Saturday.
This event is geared towards children ages 3 to 6, and a staff member will read to the children. Free crafts are also supplied!