Love country music or would you prefer heavy metal? We’ve partnered with Southern gal and travel expert Angie Orth from AngieAway.com to find out why a visit to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville should be at the top of your list – no matter what type of music you like.
Planning a trip to the Music City? Every Nashville bucket list should include a visit to “the place that made country music famous” – The Grand Ole Opry. For 90 years, the Opry has been a cultural force, dedicated to tradition and entertainment. It’s widely recognized as country music’s most famous stage, right down to the 8-foot wooden circle brought from the Ryman Auditorium in 1974.
Today, a million guests per year have the privilege of sitting in the audience as country artists perform their hits. And just like in the beginning, performances are still broadcast live on the radio. The Opry stage has held legends like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, and modern superstars like Little Big Town and Carrie Underwood. Even if you aren’t a huge country music fan,* you will recognize at least some of the musicians on any given night. It’s definitely a must-do in Nashville!
*I’m not! But not only did I enjoy the experience, I am a big Darius Rucker fan now!
4 Ways to Get the Most from a Visit to the Grand Ole Opry
Take a Backstage VIP Tour
This is hands-down the No. 1 way to take your Opry experience and/or country superfan status to the next level. Knowledgeable tour guides share stories about the Opry’s biggest moments while you explore decades of memorabilia. There are 18 dressing rooms to peep into, all uniquely themed and often filled with celebrities. You may even have the chance to watch part of the performance from the side stage. We walked in the footsteps of legends and met some of the current Opry members backstage.
Arrive Early for Food and Photos
Since the Opry gets more than a million visitors a year, you can imagine it’s pretty popular place in Nashville. Get there early to take it all in, and snap all your photos, before the crowds arrive. There are food and drink concessions inside, so you can snack with abandon.
Listen to the Artists Beforehand
If you’re a country music fan, you can skip this step! You’ll probably already know exactly who’s playing and which songs you’re most excited about. But if you’re like me and country isn’t at the top of your playlist, find out which artist will be performing on stage and listen in advance. The Opry audience experience is much richer when you can sing along with whoever is on stage. To get you started, check out Riders in the Sky, Darius Rucker and Little Big Town.
Explore During the Day
The Grand Ole Opry has live shows every Friday and Saturday year round, with shows on other days seasonally. If you happen to be in Nashville on a day where there isn’t a live performance, the Opry offers daytime tours 7 days a week. What’s really exciting about the daytime tours is that you can actually step on stage and into the wooden circle – the same circle taken from the Ryman. Whether you’re an aspiring country star or not, it’s a pretty special moment.
An evening at the Opry is like a walk through country music history, and well worth adding to the top of your Nashville bucket list!
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