Top 10 Tips For Attending CMA Music Festival

The CMA Music Festival is great fun for everyone, with things for just about everyone in the family to do, from young children to senior citizens. I've listed the Top 10 tips to help make your trip the best it can be. Follow these tips, and be rewarded with a happy summer adventure experiencing some great country music, athletic competitions, storytelling, cooking and a whole lot more.
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Carry water with you everywhere

While you can't carry bottle water that is purchased outside the CMA Music Festival venues, you can carry it with you as you walk around town. June is a hot and humid month, and you will quickly become dehydrated if you don't replenish your water often. I always brought a bottle with me, and if I reached a venue where I couldn't take it in, I would drink up as much as I could and chuck it in the trash before entering the venue. Before leaving the venue, I'd buy a new bottle to take with me from there on.
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Wear plenty of sunscreen

There is nothing worse than going on vacation only to end up with sunburn on the first day of your trip, and being miserable the rest of the time you are gone. It's important to lather on the sunscreen multiple times throughout your day if you are spending any time outside, whether it is sunny, or cloudy. This is one of the things you should carry with you in your tote bag.
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Bring a tote bag for your autograph items

Carrying a tote bag is essential to contain all the items you will need each day. Every morning, I would load up my tote bag with my camera and memory sticks, plus extra batteries for the camera. Add to that your tickets to events you are going to throughout the day, autograph material and Sharpies, your rain pancho, and bottle of water. It may seem like you are carrying a lot, but you won't be sorry when the weather takes a turn and the rain starts pouring down, and you can whip out your pancho and stay relatively dry while you are out and about.
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Can't be there all four days? Buy single day tickets

Maybe the price of a four-day ticket is more than you can afford. Never fear. There are single day tickets available as well. Just make sure you check who is playing what day to ensure you won't miss your favorite star.
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Expect rain, and bring a rain pancho

It always rains during CMA Music Festival week. Whether it starts in the morning and drizzles all day, or comes down with thunder and lightning in the evening while you are at the Coliseum show, it will happen at least one day, if not more. I recommend visiting the "Dollar Store" or a comparable store in your home town, and buying some rain panchos. The Dollar Store sells them in packages of two, and you can just toss them in the garbage if you don't want to bring them back home with you. You can't bring umbrellas, so the panchos are about the only way to stay dry (other than just not venturing out of your hotel, but who wants to do that for a week?).
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Join a fan club

Are you in any fan clubs? If not, and you have a favorite artist, check their website to see if they are planning a fan club party, and join now, so you can reserve a seat. Fan Club Parties are the best way to meet your favorite stars. They are held throughout CMA Music Festival week, anytime from Monday - Sunday. If you are planning on attending parties, or doing other things in Nashville, be sure to add on a day or two to your trip, so you are in town when the parties are happening. I recommend arriving by Wednesday afternoon at the latest, and think that arriving on Monday or Tuesday is better, if you have the extra money (and time off work).
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Get to the Convention Center early

Fans that want to meet with their favorite artists at the Convention Center need to get up extra early to get in line outside the Convention Center way before it opens at 10:00 am on Thursday through Sunday. Fans line up as early as 6:00 am, in order to be among the first to enter the building when it opens, so they can race to their favorite artist's booth to get a ticket to meet them during the day for an autograph. They may not be signing until 2:00 pm in the afternoon, but if you don't get there upon opening, all the tickets will be distributed when you stroll in at 1:30 pm and think you will just hop in line then. No go.

Don't like racing in a big crowd for tickets? See my Tip #5 about joining a fan club to meet stars.

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Don't forget your camera (but leave video camera home)

It goes without saying that anyone that is interesting in attending CMA Music Festival will want to take photos of their favorite artists as they perform or play sports games. If you're meeting your favorite artists in the Convention Center, you'll want a camera to snap that photo of you together as well. Don't forget extra batteries, and film, or extra memory sticks, if you have a digital camera.

On the other hand, video cameras are not welcome in the venues, so leave yours at home.

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Book your trip early

Tickets for 2010 go on sale Saturday, June 13 this year, if you have a four-day ticket this year, and buy on site. If you don't have a four-day ticket this year, or want to buy online, they go on sale until June 15 this year.

Be sure to book your hotel reservations early as well. You can reserve online or by calling the hotel directly.

I actually think that buying a package makes the most sense. If you can round up three other friends to go with you, savings are even better for quad rate packages.

See my Planning a Trip to CMA Fest page on hotels & packages for some tour companies that sell CMA packages.

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Wear comfortable broken-in shoes

This is my Number One tip. No matter where you stay, you will be doing a lot of walking during CMA Music Festival.

Nashville is built on a hill, so that means climbing up and down hills, morning, noon and night. Don't bring shoes that you have just purchased. Make sure they are shoes you have broken in.

This also means that if you aren't used to doing a lot of walking now, you need to get yourself used to it, or you will be huffing and puffing on every street corner.