CMT Music Awards and CMA Fest Descend on Nashville

Fest Like a Pro at These 10 Must-See Events

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for live country music in Nashville.

The first week of June traditionally brings the genre’s biggest stars back to Music City for back-to-back concerts throughout downtown, and it’s all focused around Wednesday’s (June 6) CMT Music Awards and CMA Fest.

Bonus: Most of the shows are free and open to the public.

Those who are coming to town for the fun should anticipate heavy traffic with street closures for daytime stages.

Wednesday’s (June 6) CMT Music Awards with host Little Big Town and the CMA Fest’s nightly concerts at Nissan stadium running June 7-10 are ticketed events. A limited number of passes for each are available separately through Ticketmaster.

The CMT Summer of Music Festival kicked off with Sunday’s (June 3) inaugural Paws & Play Music Festival with Cassadee Pope and Pedigree. The free outdoor concert was a chance for humans and their canine compadres to come together for some doggie-friendly events including yoga, canine massage and performance by Pope herself. Some adoptable rescues from the Nashville Humane Association also found their forever homes at the event.

Jason Davis/Getty Images for CMT

One Monday (June 4), Devin Dawson, Walker Hayes and LANCO took over the logal TopGolf Ram Jam: Artists to Watch concert. The Ram Trucks Side Stage at Wednesday’s CMT Music Awards will also feature performances from Hayes, Dawson, LANCO, Lindsay Ell, Carly Pearce and Russell Dickerson.

Anna Webber/Getty Images for CMT

Through Tuesday (June 5), the Cracker Barrel Traveling Front Porch will have free live music at various locations including Cumberland Park (592 S. 1st St.), Arrington Vineyards (6211 Patton Rd, Arrington, TN 37014) and the Bridgestone Plaza (5th and Broadway).

Jason Davis/Getty Images for CMT

Fans are invited to attend Luke Combs and Leon BridgesCMT Crossroads concert, which kicks off tonight (June 5) at 8:30 p.m. CT on the corner of 5th and Demonbreun. Arrive early to secure a good spot because the event is standing room only, first-come, first-served.

On Wednesday (June 6), Hoda Kotb and Blake Shelton will be up bright and early at Ole Red on Lower Broadway to announce the finalists for the CMT Music Awards’ video of the year category. Voting to determine the night’s top winner will continue throughout the ceremony via Twitter.

Starting at noon on Tuesday (June 5), Carly Pearce, Kelleigh Bannen, Bailey Bryan, the Sisterhood, Delta Rae, Tyler Rich and Morgan Evans will take over the Schermerhorn Symphony Center Plaza for the CMT Music Awards & Bar-S Block Party.

Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for CMT
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for CMT

For a chocolate and karaoke fix, the Hershey’s Certified Country Gold Karaoke Party at the Bridgestone Plaza on Wednesday (June 6) will have a mobile karaoke lounge, fun giveaways including a chance to win tickets to the CMT Music Awards and free Hershey’s Gold.

Then there are the outdoor performances on Lower Broadway for the CMT Music Awards. And you never know who will end up on that stage. Last year, Brothers Osborne and Peter Frampton blew everyone away with their fiery version of “It Ain’t My Fault.”

There are the additional benefits supporting major causes. GLAAD and CMT have partnered for Thursday’s (June 7) Concert for Love and Acceptance with hosts Cody Alan and Ty Herndon. Performers include Herndon, Pope, Terri Clark, Michael Ray, Calum Scott and Brandon Stansell.

Returning for the CMA Fest’s nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium are Jason Aldean, Lauren Alaina, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, Little Big Town, Dustin Lynch, Old Dominion, Jake Owen, Charley Pride, Blake Shelton, Ricky Skaggs, Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett, Darius Rucker, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Lee Ann Womack and Brett Young.

Folks won’t want to miss Nashville’s Charles Esten when he brings out a few friends for his CMA Fest stadium debut. Others performing for the first time at the stadium shows include Kane Brown, Carly Pearce, Dan + Shay, Luke Combs, Jon Pardi and Bebe Rexha with special guests.

On Friday (June 8), CMT’s Leslie Fram will host a special Next Women of Country performance and panel discussion at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with Next Women alumni Abby Anderson, Bailey Bryan, Ashley Campbell, Cassadee Pope and the Sisterhood Band. Arrive early to take advantage of some pre-event glam zone which will have a Braid Bar by The Dry House Nashville, giveaways from Kendra Scott, surprise gifts from Colourpop, a bubbly Mimosa and Mocktail bar from Trinchero Family Estates and photo ops with Nashville’s Vroom Vroom Balloon.

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.