Two years ago, when we launched the Stories initiative at NowPlayingNashville.com—then called the How To Play Nashville blog— we did it with a post titled “Collect Experiences. Not Things.” It referenced an article by Arthur C. Brooks in The New York Times about the conundrum that Christmas brings with it, and how its commercialization leaves some people cold. How to break away from it and give gifts that will last? The answer, he wrote, might be found in the teachings of a Swami in New Delhi, who preaches “abundance without attachment.” One way to achieve that, he continued, was to “collect experiences; not things.”
As a nonprofit-run site that promotes and encourages you to commune with others and attend events, that insight resonated with us. It still does. And so it’s in that spirit that we present you with a Nashville experience gift guide. Twelve (plus one) ideas that you can give this year, that are sure to last. If we missed anything, be sure to share your own ideas in the comments. Happy Experience giving!
1.Tickets to a Broadway Series show at Tennessee Performing Arts Center
TPAC’s Broadway series is top notch and sure to entertain your gift recipient. Still to come in the 2016 season: A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder, The Sound of Music, The Bodyguard, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Beautiful-The Carole King Musical, Something Rotten and Riverdance–The 20th Anniversary Tour.
There are a multitude of major acts headed to Nashville in 2017, including Ms. Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones and Steve Winwood at the Ryman, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Mariah Carey and Neil Diamond at Bridgestone Arena and Keith Sweat at Nashville Municipal Auditorium, to name a few. Plus, there are plenty of on their way Ascend Amphitheater, Marathon Music Works, Cannery Ballroom and more. And don’t forget all the great classical and pops concerts, both with and without the Nashville Symphony, coming to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center!
3. Comedy shows
The Wild West Comedy Festival returns to Nashville in April, bringing with it dozens of great acts. There’s Carol Burnett at the Ryman and Steve Martin & Martin Short at the Grand Ole Opry House. And there are also great comedians stopping into Zanies and TPAC.
4. Memberships to arts organizations
Memberships to theaters and museums are gifts that give all year long, and are often incredible deals. Consider gifting a membership to the Belcourt Theatre, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of the Art and others.
5. Memberships or season passes to kid-friendly places and organizations.
Have friends or family with kids? A membership to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, Adventure Science Center or Cheekwood is invaluable. Or take advantage of an early bird season pass discount to Nashville Shores. And don’t forget tickets to all of Opryland’s holiday events before they close!
6. Pickin’ Party passes.
Full Moon Pickin’ Parties, which support Friends of Warner Parks, are as Nashville as going to the Grand Ole Opry or getting breakfast at the Loveless Café. And Friends of Warner Parks offers season passes to the fun monthly events, where you can not only enjoy bluegrass under the full moon, you can bring an instrument and pick along. Season passes are now available, and $10 less than last year!
7. The legends, and the legends of tomorrow
Speaking of the Grand Ole Opry, your intended gift recipient has been, yes? If not, or if it’s been awhile, you must get them tickets to this iconic show. Go ahead and get them some tickets to the Opry’s younger, upstart sibling south of town, Music City Roots, while you’re at it.
8. The arts on stage
In addition to the Broadway Series at TPAC, there are dozens of other plays, musicals, operas and art performances presented by Nashville’s numerous theater companies, among them Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s production of Romeo & Juliet and Nashville’s Repertory Theatre’s production of A Raisin in the Sun. Check what’s coming up from the Nashville Opera, OZ Arts Nashville, The Nashville Ballet and more. Search for under “Stage” to see what’s coming up from our many organizations, both big and small.
9. Classes and workshops
Have a friend or family member interested in writing? Consider getting them a class or workshop from the Porch Writer’s Collective. If they’re interested in arts or crafts, check out the offerings from Watkins College of Arts‘s Community Education program or The Clay Lady’s Campus. Search for classes on the site to find more.
10. Dressing up fancy and supporting a good cause
Nashville is well known for its big-ticket fundraising events. Perhaps this is the year you and your partner or friend finally attend the Symphony or Swan Ball, or walk the Red Carpet at the Belcourt’s Red Carpet Affair celebrating the Oscars. The opportunities to put on a tuxedo or elegant gown in Nashville are endless.
Any Tennessee volunteers fans out there? Consider buying that UT-orange lover a ticket to the Franklin Mortgage Music City Bowl this year. Any other sports fans on your gift list? Consider getting them a pair of tickets to a Predators or Titans game. The Nashville Sounds also have a great Holiday ticket package right now, where you can 10 tickets for $99.
Middle Tennessee has become a hotbed of great music and arts festivals, many with tickets already on sale. Consider surprising your gift recipient with a full pass to the Nashville Film Festival in April, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival or CMA Music Festival in June or Americana Music Festival and Conference in September.
(Bonus) Dining Out
Dining in Nashville has certainly become an experience, and there is no shortage of restaurants where you can make a night of it. Consider a Nashville Originals gift certificate, or a gift certificate any number of our hundreds of hot offerings. Be sure to look for NowPlayingNashville.com’s revamped Dining Guide, launching in 2017.
If we missed anything, be sure to share your own ideas in the comments below.
(This Gift Guide was created with generous input from Erin Holcomb and Jessica Musman. Find more events and experiences at NowPlayingNashville.com)