If you're a country music fan, reserve your Tennessee car rental and start planning your trip to Nashville, Tennessee, this June. That's when the CMA Music Festival takes over the Athens of the South for four days of live musical entertainment featuring hundreds of artists from around the globe. The massive event attracts tens of thousands of fans every year, making it one of the city's biggest events and among the largest fests of its kind around the world. Before you hop in your CMA Music Festival car rental and head out to hear some twangy country tunes, learn a little about the history of this event and what you can expect:
History of the CMA Music Festival
The CMA Music Festival was established in 1972 by the Country Music Association, which is best known for its annual awards that honor the year's best musicians in the genre. It was originally an intimate fan fair, attracting about 5,000 concert-goers with acts such as Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Roy Acuff. Since its start, it has grown to massive proportions, expanding its features to include much more than just music. In 1975, the fest held its first softball tournament, then came the All-American Country Games let musicians go head-to-head in sports competitions.
The festival served as the starting point for newcomers to the country scene - Randy Travis, for example, performed in 1986 when he was not yet a huge star. Carrie Underwood even performed in 2005 fresh from her win on "American Idol." Over the years, the CMA Music Festival has continued to attract big names in music, television and other arenas of entertainment, such as George Strait, Larry King and Wayne Newton, eventually making a name for itself as the "World's Biggest Country Music Festival in Downtown Nashville."
What to expect
The fest takes place at LP Field in the heart of the city. You'll arrive to find lively crowds of cheering fans - it had record-breaking attendance at 80,000 people in 2013 - and tunes by some of the world's best country, roots and rock musicians. Along with music, the event features autograph signings by performers and special guests, meet and greets, a family-friendly fair and celebrity sporting events. A highlight of the festival is The Belt, a strip of Broadway spanning three blocks where visitors can enjoy free food samples, sing their hearts out in karaoke and partake in some competitive games with other fans. Guests should keep in mind that parking is limited and passes must be in advanced if you want a spot for your Nashville car rental at LP Field. However, there are also public parking options all throughout downtown.
In addition to the main event, there are also activities happening all throughout the city the week of the festival. Use your Tennessee car rental to explore the many venues, such as Nashville Palace, Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry, that invite renowned and upcoming musicians to their stages.