Just the other week, I went into total country music fangirl mode. It started two weeks ago with my arrival in Nashville and attendance at the CMT Music Awards, and then ran all the way through until Sunday evening’s Nissan Stadium show for CMAfest. As someone who has now experienced this amazing festival, I felt it might be nice to share some things that I wish I knew going into the event. Read on for my tips for surviving CMAfest!
Nashville is an absolutely amazing city. I personally would move there if I could (as you might already know if you follow our blog much… I’ve written about it on more than one occasion – My Fangirl Story: Nashville and On Dreams: Mine Are Just So Nashville to name a couple). Each time I have visited my favourite city, it has been buzzing with activity, but in more of a laid-back fashion. On this trip that was not the case! Nashville was overflowing with people there to have a good time and listen to country music.
It was an extremely hot, sunny, humid few days in Nashville over CMAfest this year. This was great festival weather but made it difficult to be outside for the whole day. I had to take regular breaks and even give up some of the shows I would’ve liked to see. My initial planned schedule ended up being a little too ambitious and impractical, but my CMAfest experience was still pretty perfect. In my first experience at the festival, I collected some little tidbits of advice that you just might find helpful if you’re planning on heading there in the future. Read on!
Ok, so packing sunscreen for a summer festival is a pretty obvious one, but I couldn’t leave it off, could I? Also wear a hat. And maybe bring an umbrella or rain poncho in case the weather goes the other way.
Pack A Water Bottle
You might not be able to bring a full water bottle into all of the venues, but there were tons of refilling stations and water fountains available. And this year, it was all much needed! Drinking beer is a great thing to do while soaking up the sun, but don’t forget to mix in some water along the way.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
I ended up learning this one the hard way. I had a pretty ambitious schedule I wanted to follow… and I did, for the first couple days. My 9 AM to 3 AM all-day, outdoor, concert-watching schedule ended up being a little too much. It resulted in me literally not being able to speak on one of the concert days. This was super awkward because I was travelling alone and really couldn’t avoid ordering food and drinks. Oh well…
You Can’t See Everyone
I spent the first couple days trekking from one end of the grounds to the other to catch all of my favourite acts. This ended up being pretty intense, especially in the heat, and in the last couple days I ended up just having to choose which shows I wanted to see most of all.
Sometimes the Smaller Shows are More Fun
I enjoyed attending the Nissan Stadium shows each evening and seeing some of the biggest stars in country music, but I honestly had more fun at the smaller free shows. I was usually able to get up nice and close, while the stadium shows had me in the very top, very back of the football stadium. I’m definitely glad I did it all this time, but if I were to return to this event again, I may try to get tickets to just one of the stadium shows based on the line-up.
You Don’t Need A Meet and Greet Ticket
CMAfest runs raffles ahead of time for certain popular experiences, some of them being celebrity meet and greets. I was sad when I checked my account on draw day and realized that I hadn’t won a thing. But this didn’t stop me! I got in line to meet Chris Carmack when I was in need of spending some time in the air-conditioned convention centre. He was just about to come out and get started when I started waiting. Ahead of me was a ticketed line (those that had actually won the draw), and a hopeful line. So basically I was in the hopeless line, as we liked to refer to ourselves. They closed the line right behind me and didn’t even give anyone else the chance to wait. After standing for an hour and a half, we were told that we weren’t going to make it to the front. A few other girls and I dejectedly just took a picture or two and debated leaving, but instead ended up looping around to the outside of the meet and greet area, and Chris took the extra time to chat and take selfies with each of us at the end. What a dreamboat! ?
So basically, be prepared for disappointment when it comes to meet and greets, but don’t give up. And line up earlier than I did if you’re doing the hopeful line!
If you’re heading to CMAfest, be ready to experience a country fangirl’s (or fanboy’s) dream. It’s a lot of fun and some of the biggest acts in music are so accessible! I hope my tips for surviving CMAfest will help you have a killer time.