Getting the Most from CMA Fest 2023
You pay a pretty penny for that festival lanyard. Make sure you get the most out of it by heeding these tips from CMA Fest veterans. Also included are answers to “Where’s the closest…”
JUST ADDED: How to navigate CMA Fest Transportation
Beware the heat.
Dress in lightweight, light-colored clothes that breathe. If you’re wearing a hat, keep in mind that baseball caps and straw hats also breathe; felt cowboy hats don’t. Wear sunscreen; otherwise you be rightly mocked for looking like a lobster.
Maintain happy feet.
You’ll do a ton of walking at the CMA Fest so think about your feet. Every year I see dozens of people limping down Broadway in just-bought cowboy boots.They may be stylin’ but they’ll also be hurtin’. Wear comfortable shoes. But if your heart’s set on western wear, here’s everything you need to know about buying cowboy boots.
Carry only the essentials.
Only clear bags (12″x12″x6″ or smaller) are allowed at Nissan Stadium–one per person. They can be backpacks, fanny packs, shopping bags, etc. Travel light but be prepared. Essentials: Photo ID, money/credit card, CMA Fest pass, empty plastic water bottle* (water stations available), sunblock lotion or spray mist (no aerosol cans), sunglasses, lodging key. Recommended: hat, band-aids, safety pins, phone, poncho or rain jacket (no umbrellas allowed), insurance card (in case of emergency), lip balm, contact info if you’re traveling alone. For late-night purchases, see the Corner Market below. *For details on what items are allowed, visit this CMA Fest page.
Do not bring…
In addition to the typical banned items (knives, outside food or beverages, glass, and such), the Nissan Stadium list extends to a few items you might not expect: cameras with detachable lens, GoPros, umbrellas, signs on sticks or poles, helium balloons, e-cigarette refill cartridges, any form of adhesive-backed decals or stickers, aerosol cans, battery-powered lights or laser pointers.
Drink a lot of water.
More than you think you need. Not to offend but, if your urine is darker than pale yellow, it is likely you’re dehydrated. Look for water stations on the festival grounds plus vendors who are selling bottled water. There’s some disagreement about the hydration value of sodas and beer but neither is a substitute for plain ol’ water. And speaking of alcohol…
Know your alcohol limits.
I won’t stop you from wise and legal consumption but don’t be like the 50 people arrested in a previous year. Most were charged with public intoxication. By the way, the legal minimum age is 21 and you can count on being carded so carry a photo ID. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot (or anywhere else) and miss out on all the live music and attractions.
Plan how to get to and from CMA Fest events.
If you’re staying downtown, no sweat–because pretty much everything is within walking distance. If you’re lodging in a nearby hotel, check on the availability of a hotel shuttle; most provide rides to destinations within three miles–but may not run late into the evening. If you catch a WeGo bus, the fare is $2.00 for most rides to and from downtown.
Of course, you can also hail a cab or ride-share but Uber/Lyft will probably be operating at their higher surge rates; still it may prove less costly than paying for downtown parking. But if you are driving…
Know where you’re parked.
Sure, you’re excited to dive into the festivities but STOP. Make a note of where you’re parking or take a picture of signs or landmarks within view. If you’re into apps, use one like Find My Car Smarter, Anchor Pointer or Honk that allow you to record the exact GPS of your vehicle. You’ll find more specific guidance at my post Parking Made Easier.