magnolia lobby entrance opryland christmas

Christmas Parades and Events Bring Merriment to Middle Tennessee

Do you hear those sleighbells jingling? It’s time to slip into the festive holiday season and enjoy the pure fantasyland of choices awaiting you in Middle Tennessee.

Gaylord Opryland Hotel sits on a bend in the Cumberland River, lit up with over two million dazzling lights that attract visitors from around the world. Bundle up against the chilly nights and take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the resort, enjoying the glittering sprawl of stunning decorations and outdoor nativity. Then you’ll be ready to step inside for a steaming hot chocolate and walk the streets of a Country Christmas.

If you’ve never been to Opryland Hotel before, you’ll be breathless with surprise. It’s another world, filled with gardens, fountains, waterfalls, cafes, delta riverboats, several lamplit villages of quaint shops and live music at every turn. Lots of fun holiday events and attractions await the whole family. DreamWorks’ Shrek the Halls comes alive in the animated winter attraction ICE! featuring colorful ice sculptures and 20-foot tall ice slides.

Join Santa and his reindeer on a magical journey with the world famous Radio City Rockettes, or share an enchanted down-home Christmas dinner and show with country music superstar and Grand Ole Opry member, Lorrie Morgan.

The best way to enjoy these and dozens of other Christmas activities at Gaylord Opryland is to purchase a package or spend a night or two at the resort. Why drive home when you can relax on your balcony in the lush conservatory or glass-covered Cascades atrium sipping on a glass of champagne?

The intrigue of Christmas for many is stepping back into the past and enjoying the romance of earlier times. Dickens of a Christmas in Franklin celebrates the world of masterful storyteller Charles Dickens. The streets are filled with characters from Dickens’ stories, over 250 volunteers in period costume who live the part of vendors or street performers dancing and singing to the music of harpists, violinists, hand bell choirs and carolers. The public is invited to dress up and join in the free activities in Franklin’s 15-block Historic District 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, December 8, or noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 9.

A pleasant drive in the country, about two hours southeast of Nashville, will bring you to the quaint little town of Bell BuckleOn December 1st it officially rings in the Christmas season, celebrating an old-fashioned Christmas with carriage rides, carolers dressed in vintage clothing and the whole town festively decorated. Established in 1852, Bell Buckle is a railroad village filled with antique shops, homemade craft stores, and restored Victorian homes and churches.

Everybody loves a parade, especially those small town, nostalgic parades that overflow with community spirit and simple pleasure. Explore some of these outlying towns and rekindle the true spirit of Christmas.


Clarksville – December 1st, 5 p.m.

Their annual, night-time lighted parade, with the theme Christmas Around the World, will feature Austin Peay State University Governors Own Marching Band and the Tennessee State University Band.

Goodlettsville – December 1st, 11 a.m. parade

Christmas on Main Street is a full day of festivities, including breakfast with Santa, the Christmas Parade down Main Street at 11 a.m., live music and vendor booths around City Hall all afternoon, and Santa in the Chamber courtyard 12 noon – 4 p.m. Lighting of the City Christmas tree at 4 p.m. will precede YuleFest at historic Mansker Station which celebrates the 17th century tradition 6-9 p.m. Grand Marshalls of the Christmas Parade will be the Goodlettsville Little League World Series National Champions.


Portland – December 1st, 5:30 p.m.

The Winter Wonderland-themed lighted parade will travel from Freedom Drive down Broadway Street (Hwy 109) and turn down Main Street.

Before the parade, families can visit Santa in the Chamber office for pictures (BYO camera) and the tree lighting ceremony in mini-park. Hot chocolate and dessert will be for sale at the Senior Center.

Hendersonville – December 2nd, 2:30 p.m.

The 30th Annual Parade, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, begins at Memorial Park and parades down Main Street. 


Gallatin – December 8th, 12 noon

Thousands of spectators will line the parade route to watch over 150 entries process from Steamplant Road through Downtown Gallatin, ending at Gallatin High School. 

To complete this Christmas sampler, pack up the family to view a brilliant Festival of Lights Tour at the Wilson County Fairgrounds (615-443-2626). Every weekend in December, 5-9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, you can take the driving tour of thousands of lights, animation, lighted scenes and Christmas displays. Feliz Navidad!

Which holiday event are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments!

Hi! I’m Dayle Fergusson. As a transplanted Aussie living in Middle Tennessee since 1986, I have been a freelance travel...Read on

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