Upcoming Events in Nashville 2021

Following a quiet 2020, Nashville is roaring back with a fine slate of upcoming events in 2021. Scroll toward the end if you’re interested Nashville soccer or baseball schedules. More events will be added as announcements are made.

National Museum of African American Music

Credit: Twitter@theNMAAM

Now open. Okay, it’s not a special event (actually the events are on-going) but, at long last, the museum is welcoming visitors. Covering everything from field hollers to hip hop, the museum is home to more than 1,500 items including musical instruments, stage wear and priceless memorabilia. We spent two hours there and could have spent at least one more although they say 1.5 hours is the average visit. The interactive exhibits are fun and you’ll even come away with your own personalized playlist of hit songs.

CMA Country Music Fest

It almost breaks my heart to post that one of our signature events for 2021, CMA Fest, has been cancelled due to Covid’s stubborn persistence. Once we’ve beaten back this scourge, I suspect you’ll see some smaller events fill in the gaps later in the year but it’s just not smart to have thousands of people packed into our streets and stadium. We love y’all but we’ve gotta play this smart.

OUTLOUD Music Festival

June 4-5 @Main Event parking lot/East Nashville. The first actual music festival to make its return. The artist roster includes Soccer Mommy, Japanese Breakfast, The Blam Blams, Todrick Hall, Tank and The Bangas and a crazy quilt of RuPaul cohorts.

First Saturday Art Crawl

June 5. The link will take you to the Downtown Crawl, cluster of galleries on or near 5th Avenue N. (aka Avenue of the Arts). If you’re not into downtown, visit the roughly dozen galleries welcoming you on the same night at Wedgewood-Houston, only a mile or so south of downtown.

Musicians Corner

Musicians Corner concert in Centennial Park, Nashville

June 11-13. Summer 2020 wasn’t the same without this free concert event held in Centennial Park. Most acts are local but many have national followings. Eighteen acts have been announced including The New Respects, Allison Russell, Jason Eskridge and Adia Victoria. In addition to fun mix of music, look for activities for the kids, food trucks and a beer garden.

Record Day

June 12. With all the artists hovering around town, Record Day in Nashville is extra-special. Generally Third Man Records has a debut or two up its sleeve and all the other record stores crank up the charisma with special releases, discounts and live performances. If you miss this one, there’s an encore on July 17.

Nashville Comedy Festival

June 12-13 with likely more days added. In years past, it’s drawn a few A-listers as well as rising stars in stand-up. Names announced so far: Leann Morgan, David Spade and Sebastian Maniscalco.

Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party

Kyle Tuttle
Credit: KyleTuttle.com

June 12, July 17 and August 28. These concerts benefiting Shelby Park and Shelby Bottoms are hot tickets ($14-30 per person) and sell out fast, so be warned. The June show features Kyle Tuttle and Greenwood Rye. Artists for other shows TBA. In addition to live music, look for food trucks, craft beer, family activities and vendors.

American Artisan Festival

Tents at American Artisan Festival, Nashville
Photo credit: American Artisan Festival website

June 17-19. One of our premier showcases for artisans of all stripes. Many travel hundreds of miles to show their creations to appreciative attendees. Of course, it’s Nashville so there will be live music, activities for the kids and food vendors. Held at Centennial Park.

NASCAR Races at Nashville Superspeedway

June 18-21. Highly anticipated among events for 2021 is our inaugural NASCAR event. The Superspeedway is hosting a three-day weekend with the following events:  NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race (Friday, June 18, 7pm), NASCAR Xfinity race (Saturday, June 19, 2:30pm), Ally 400 NASCAR Cup Series race (Sunday, June 20, 2:30pm).  See the website for details.

Iroquois Steeplechase

horse racing

June 26. Though typically held in May as a sort of equine rite of spring, it’s moved to summer with COVID-19 safety guidelines in place. All the races will be held as usual. It’s a day for movers and shakers to dress regally. And for those on the outskirts to throw a picnic party.

Music City July 4th 5K

July 4. With COVID numbers declining, races are returning to Nashville. This 5K begins and ends at Rose Park in Edgehill, just south of downtown. The course takes you down Music Row,  past Music City Center and through SoBro on your way back to Edgehill. You can pick up packets the day before with the race starting at 7am. At this writing, the entrance fee is $50.

Nashville Hot Chicken Festival

Meal from Helen's Hot Chicken

July 4, noon-4pm. Even getting to sample the food is a competition. The first 500 folks get the equivalent of a Golden Ticket to taste-test the red-hot bird from a number of contestants. Hot chicken not your thing? Go for the live music, beer and people-watching. Held at East Park in East Nashville.

Let Freedom Sing July 4th Celebration

July 4th, Brad Paisley in Nashville
Photo: Wiki Commons by minds-eye – Brad Paisley, CC BY-SA 2.0,

July 4. We’re coming back with a bang this 4th with a concert headlined by Brad Paisley and our biggest fireworks display ever. Other artists will be announced in coming weeks and the Nashville Symphony will be playing America’s favorites. Two stages: Ascend Amphitheatre and another on Broadway. Free!

Music City Jerk Festival

Music City Jerk Festival
Credit: timokefoto

July 10, 1pm. I’ll let you come up with your own joke here. We’re not just about hot chicken in Nashville as this event proves. Those who jam on Jamaican jerk chicken will present their finest to a no-doubt appreciative Caribbean-influenced crowd. Irie!

SFX Racing Series

July 17. Admittedly, I know nothing about racing so here’s what website says:  SFX Racing Series & JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Rackley Roofing Masters of the Pros 150. Superstar Racing Experience, (CRA/NFS) Pro Late Models.

Music City Brewer’s Festival

Music City Brewer's Festival held at the Nashville Walk of Fame Park
Credit: MusicCityBrewersFest website

July 31. Now celebrating its 20th year, this is your chance to sample an unlimited number of local and regional beers (but please be sane). The 2019 event drew more than 40 breweries and you can expect at least that many for 2021. Designated drivers pay $20 for admission (but don’t get drink cups). Those who plan on consuming pay $35-49 to sip samples and must present a valid ID showing an age of 21 or over. Additionally, food vendors will be out in force. It’s held at Music CIty Walk of Fame Park across the street at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Music City Grand Prix

August 6-8. Get ready for the roar. In its Nashville debut, cars will blaze from the south side of downtown across the Cumberland River and around the grounds of Nissan Stadium. Various spectator packages are available but much of the course will be in view from free vantage points. The Opry is planning a road trip with Alan Jackson headlining a special concert.

Tomato Art Fest

Nashville Tomato Art Fest
Credit: IG/TomatoArtFest

August 13-14. East Nashville prides itself on being a bit funky. At no time is its avante-garde-ness on brighter display than this homegrown festival which features a parade, costume competition, live music and vendors. With Covid squashing last year’s festivities, expect the events for 2021 to be smashing.

Volunteer Jam

August 18, 7pm. Charlie Daniels passed away in 2020 but his memory and music lives as other artists carry on the tradition. Bridgestone Arena.

Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo returns in 20212
Photo: Bonnaroo Instagram

September 2-5. Break out your tie-dyed t-shirt because Bonnaroo is back…but more than two months later than usual. Other than the date change, much will be the same for its 20th anniversary. This year’s line-up includes most artists scheduled for last year, plus new additions. The eclectic roster includes Foo Fighters, Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, Tame Impala, Tyler The Creator, Lana Del Rey, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Brittany Howard, My Morning Jacket, Incubus, Janelle Monae, and mainstays from the Grand Ole Opry. Four-day tickets have already sold out.

Musicians Corner

September 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-25, 30 and October 1. These free Thursday and Friday night concerts are billed as the September Sundown series with live music 5-9pm. They’ve added a Saturday noon-6pm concert on September 25 in celebration of AmericanaFest. Bring your lawn chair or blanket to Centennial Park.

Americanafest

September 21-25. No details have been released yet but it will be a rich line-up of performances and the annual Americana Awards event.

Pilgrimage Festival

Pilgrimage Festival banner

September 25-26. While you’re in town for Americanafest, you might as well stick around for this new tradition held on a farm in Franklin. Who’s playing? So far, the roster includes Dave Matthews Band, the Black Keys, Maren Morris, Cage the Elephant, the Black Pumas, Tanya Tucker, Better Than Ezra and about a dozen more artists.

“You Got Gold: Celebrating the Life & Songs of John Prine”

Celebrating the music of John Prine
Credit: JohnPrine.com

October 3-10. Few Nashville songwriters are revered more than the late John Prine. To celebrate his legacy in song, his family has scheduled a week of special events culminating in a series of concerts held at the Ryman Auditorium, the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum Theatre and Basement East. Artists have not been announced but good bets would be Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, Sturgill Simpson and Old Crow Medicine Show. I’ll update when the actual rundown is announced.

Oktoberfest

Nashville Oktoberfest
Credit: Nashville Oktoberfest/IG

October 7-10. After taking a year off, Oktoberfest makes its return to historic Germantown with live music, food trucks, sidewalk vendors and of course beer. Blocks and blocks of fun. Free.

Immersive Van Gogh Experience

Immersive Van Gogh Experience
Photo: Immersivearteditor, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

November 4-February 2022. They haven’t released the location yet but this looks amazing. More than a half-million cubic feet of art are projected on the floor and giant walls.

Tin Pan South

Bluebird
Songwriters all over town for Tin Pan South
November 16-21. Normally this is one  of our signature spring events but Tin Pan South has moved to late fall, allowing for the world to become virus-resistant. What hasn’t changed is a dizzying array of songwriters playing at roughly a dozen venues over six days. Some tunesmiths are just emerging while others have written mega-hits. Both have stories to tell and songs to play.

Rock’n’Roll Nashville Marathon and Half-Marathon

Expo and registration: Music City Center, Nashville
Music City Center: home for the Nashville Marathon registration and Expo

November 20. Runners from around the world proclaim Nashville as one of the friendliest, most fun hosts on the marathon circuit. Rather than cancel the annual spring event, they’ve bumped to late fall. Still, expect Nashville neighbors to turn out en masse to cheer on runners. The marathon route includes downtown, Music Row, dignified historic homes and funky revivals.

SPORTS

Nashville Soccer Club matches

Nashville SC player
Photo: Nashville SC Instagram

Until their spiffy new stadium is completed, home games are being played at Titans Stadium. Watch out, world. Nashville is becoming a soccer city.

  • Wednesday, June 23 at 7:30 PM vs Toronto FC
  • Saturday, June 26 at 7:30 PM vs CF Montreal
  • Monday, July 5 at 7:00 PM vs Philadelphia Union
  • Thursday, July 8 at 7:30 PM vs Atlanta United FC
  • Saturday, July 17 at 7:30 PM vs Chicago Fire FC
  • Saturday, July 24 at 7:30 PM vs. FC Cincinnati
  • Sunday, August 1 at 6:30 PM vs Toronto FC (location TBD)
  • Sunday, August 15 at 6:00 PM vs D.C. United
  • Wednesday, August 18 at 7:30 PM vs Orlando City SC
  • Saturday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 PM vs New York City FC
  • Sunday, Sept. 12 at 12:00 PM vs CF Montreal (location TBD)
  • Saturday, Sept. 18 at 6:30 PM vs Toronto SC (location TBD)
  • Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 7:30 PM vs Orlando City SC
  • Wednesday, October 20 at 7:30 PM vs Columbus Crew SC
  • Sunday, November 7 at 2:30 PM vs New York Red Bulls

Nashville Sounds baseball games

Nashville Sounds baseball park
Photo: FirstHorizonPrk/Twitter

Nashville loves baseball and you don’t even have to like baseball to have fun at First Horizon Park. There’s a variety of local food vendors and lots of activities to keep things interesting. Plus, it’s affordable family fun.

  • June 8, 7:05pm vs. Indianapolis
  • June 9, 7:05pm vs. Indianapolis
  • June 10, 7:05pm vs. Indianapolis
  • June 11, 7:05pm vs. Indianapolis
  • June 12, 7:05pm vs. Indianapolis
  • June 13, 2:05pm vs. Indianapolis
  • June 22, 7:05pm vs. Charlotte
  • June 23, 7:05pm vs. Charlotte
  • June 24, 7:05pm vs. Charlotte
  • June 25, 7:05pm vs. Charlotte
  • June 26, 7:05pm vs. Charlotte
  • June 27, 6:15pm vs. Charlotte
  • June 29, 7:05pm vs. Louisville
  • June 30, 7:05pm vs. Louisville
  • July 1, 7:05pm vs. Louisville
  • July 2, 7:05pm vs. Louisville
  • July 3, 7:05pm vs. Louisville
  • July 4, 6:15pm vs. Louisville
  • July 13, 6:35pm vs. Norfolk
  • July 14, 6:35pm vs. Norfolk
  • July 15, 7:05pm vs. Louisville
  • July 16, 7:05pm vs. Louisville
  • July 17, 7:05pm vs. Louisville
  • July 18, 6:15pm vs. Louisville
  • July 27, 7:05pm vs. Columbus
  • July 28, 7:05pm vs. Columbus
  • July 29, 7:05pm vs. Columbus
  • July 30, 7:05pm vs. Columbus
  • July 31, 7:05pm vs. Columbus
  • August 1, 6:15pm vs. Columbus
  • August 3, 7:05pm vs. Toledo
  • August 4, 7:05pm vs. Toledo
  • August 5, 7:05pm vs. Toledo
  • August 6, 7:05pm vs. Toledo
  • August 7, 7:05pm vs. Toledo
  • August 8, 6:15pm vs. Toledo
  • August 24, 7:05pm vs. Gwinnett
  • August 25, 7:05 pm vs. Gwinnett
  • August 26, 7:05pm vs. Gwinnett
  • August 27, 7:5pm vs. Gwinnett
  • August 28, 7:05pm vs. Gwinnett
  • August 29, 6:15pm vs. Gwinnett
  • Sept. 7, 7:05pm vs. Memphis
  • Sept. 8, 7:05pm vs. Memphis
  • Sept. 9, 7:05pm vs. Memphis
  • Sept. 10, 7:05vm vs. Memphis
  • Sept. 11, 7:05pm vs. Memphis
  • Sept. 12, 6:15pm vs. Memphis

Also of interest:

The Complete Guide to World-Famous Honky Tonks on Lower Broadway

30+ Activities for Kids and Families

Outdoor Options to Explore

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