Monday, May 21, 2018

How to Survive CMA Fest

CMA Fest is by far one of my favorite weeks of the year. During the second week of June country fans from all over the world will come together in Nashville, TN. CMA Fest main activities run Thurs-Sun with mulitple free stages and the main Nissan Stadium shows. However, there are events all week long.

I always suggest to get to Nashville early. That way you get to experience some of the other local bars, restaurants, and events before the big crowd comes. This year things start off as early has Sunday night with Whiskey Jams outdoor shows in the parking lot of Losers Bar. They will sure to have up and coming acts, song writers and a few bigger artists as well. This year they are doing 3 nights in a row of acts so there are bound to be surprises.

Wednesday night is the CMT Awards. In years past you have been able to wait along the red carpet for a chance to get photos with your favorite artists or sign up to receive a wristband to be a seat filler or in the PIT. Moore Casting (click here) has been in charge of casting red carpet extras as well. So make sure to sign up with them in case they are casting this year. Another casting company to follow is Audience Company (click here), days before the award show they have handed out wristbands to attend the show itself. The past 2 years however, CMT the Ticket (click here) has taken over and you have to sign up with them to be on a list to attend. The award show is one of my favorite events of the week. You get to be up close to all your favorite stars as the perform and win awards and you get a chance to be shown on TV!

Some artists will host a fan club party which usually include: a meet and greet, performance, exclusive merch items, cds, food and more. Only a few tickets are available, giving you a up close and personal setting among other fans just like you. Most parties will cost a fee and will sell out quickly so make sure to follow your favorites on social media to see when tickets are available. Also, a few parties (such as Eric Church) you have to be paying members of their online fan club. Don't forget to sign up for your favorites so you don't miss out. A few fan club parties I have attended were Michael Ray and Dan and Shay.

There are between 9-10 different stages and the Nissan Stadium show. The best way to keep track of where and when your favorite artists are playing would be by downloading the "CMA Fest" app. There they have a tab where you can add your favorite artists to your schedule. It is ultimately the BEST tool to use. However, you're not able to include the extra non CMA affiliated events to it such as the fan club parties. So I tend to design my own spreadsheet in the same format as the app but add my extra activities to it. It also comes in handy to have a paper copy in case your phone dies or you can't get service.
The stages are all located downtown or inside Fan Fair. But do keep in mind that they are spread out. I made the mistake on thinking that I would be able to make it quickly in-between performances but would end up missing one. There are a lot of people and roadblocks in the way so give yourself extra time by either leaving an act early or know that you may have to miss someone. Security is going to be tight this year after the tragic event that happened in Vegas, so be prepared to make extra time for that as well. The Riverfront stage always has a long line to enter as well, plan accordantly.

Located in Music City Center is Fan Fair. Here you will get to access other stages, artist meet and greets, food, drinks, merch and vendors. It is also a great way to get out of the heat and rest for a little bit. Make sure you have room in your bags, vendors love handing out free things. I think I ended up with almost 20 koozies last year. This is where youll get to meet most of the artists, get in line before the doors open and head straight to who you are wanting to meet. I have met Chase Rice, Kip Moore, Chris Lane, Drew Baldridge, David Nail, and others. The lines fill extremely quick for the bigger artists. Don't want to wait? There is a way to get a guaranteed meet and greet! Remember that app I talked about? Well there is a section to register for "Fan Access". Once it gets closer to CMA Fest, you will get to enter a lottery for a chance to win a meet and greet or into the HGTV lodge. The HGTV lodge is another intimate stage where you can only win your way in or stand in the "hopeful" line to attend. I have gotten to see Kip Moore, Eric Paslay and Russell Dickerson at the HGTV lodge.

1. Clear Cross Body Messenger Tote (click here) : A new rule was put into place this year that requires all bags to follow Nissan Stadium's clear bag policy at all festival locations. This means that your bag must be clear and not exceed 12" x 12” x 6".
2. Stainless Steel Water Bottle (click here) : Water stations will be set around the festival where you will be able to fill up for free. Its going to be hot, so water will become your best friend for the week.
3. External Phone Charger (click here) : You will most likely be on the go from the moment you wake up and your phone will be used for photos all day. My advise is to splurge on a portable charge like this one so you won't have to worry about your phone dying as you go to take a photo with Luke Bryan....tragic. Don't forget to grab your wall charger as well, there might be a time at the bar where you are able to charge up from an outlet as well.
4. Band-Aid Variety Pack (click here) : Wear comfy shoes. Because you WILL blister. Grab a variety pack of bandaids for emergencies.
5. Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen (click here) : You will be in the sun 90% of the week, if you burn, you will need this.

Others useful items: hair ties, deodorant, tampons, sunglasses, autograph book, permanent markers, hand fan, tissues and hand sanitizer.

Social media will be your best friend. Before and during CMA Fest, check your favorite artists social media pages to see if they announce anything for the week. Pop up concerts happen daily and its something you don't want to miss. I always turn on notifications for artists I follow so if they post anything I will get alerted. I was able to find out about Blake Shelton doing a bar crawl and got a video of him walking behind me.

Trying to plan and learn everything there is to know about CMA Fest can be stressful and extremely overwhelming. I ended up joining a few Facebook groups to help. People will help each other and post when things are announced and even have extra tickets or items to sell. Going to CMA Fest (click here) and CMA Fest Family and Friends (click here) are 2 of my favorites!

Keep your eyes peeled at all times. Artists will be EVERYWHERE. They are extremely busy bouncing around to performances, meet and greets and interviews but they need a way to get there. Look out for golf carts, thats usually their main choice of transportation. On our way to the CMT Music Awards my friend spotted Tod Chrisley for Chrisley Knows Best get out of a car right in front of us. Pure luck.

HAVE FUN! Its extremely overwhelming. Your schedule won't go 100% as planned. You'll miss things. Your feet will hurt. You'll be tired. But the more you just go with the flow and enjoy the experience the more fun you will have!

Get rest. Pack your things. CMA FEST IS COMING!

Disclosure: Some of the links on this post contain affiliate links, meaning at not cost to you if you click/make a purchase I will make a small commission

1 comment :

  1. Everything you need to know ! Good job !
    loved reading through and thanks for the mention #cmafriendsandfamily