Nashville celebrates the coming of spring in a big way. Awesome April (www.visitmusiccity.com) is the name that encompasses the half dozen or more big events that take place during this month, one of the most pleasant on the city’s weather calendar.
The Country Music Television Music Awards (www.cmt.com) was country music’s first fan-voted awards show. Founded in 2002, the show lets fans participate in both the first and final rounds of voting. The show is broadcast live on television from Nashville, usually from the Curb Event Center at Belmont University.
Gospel music hosts its annual awards night in April too. The Gospel Music Association Dove Awards (www.gospelmusic.org) is billed as gospel music’s biggest night. The celebration takes place at the Grand Ole Opry House in Music Valley, and is preceded by Gospel Music Week at the Nashville Convention Center, part trade show and part fan fair.
Film lovers throughout Tennessee look forward to the Nashville Film Festival (www.nashvillefilmfestival.org) held every April at the Green Hills Cinema 16. The film festival was founded in 1969 as the Sinking Creek Film Celebration. These days, upwards of 20,000 people attend the weeklong event, which includes film screenings, industry panels, and lots of parties.
Tin Pan South (www.tinpansouth.com) is an annual celebration of songs and songwriting organized by the Nashville Songwriters Association International. The event features five nights of performances by some of the best singers and songwriters around. Shows are held in 10 different intimate venues around the city, presenting music fans with the tough choice of where to go each night.
The Country Music Marathon (www.cmmarathon.com) takes place every April. More than 15,000 professional and amateur runners take part, and tens of thousands more come out for the live music and cheer squads that line the racecourse. The post-race concert usually boasts nationally known country music artists.
Held in Centennial Park, the Tennessee Crafts Fair (www.tennesseecrafts.org) showcases the work of more than 180 different fine craftsmen and women. More than 45,000 people come to the three-day event every year, which also includes craft demonstrations, a food fair, and entertainment. The fair repeats in September.
For something a little different, plan to attend the Running of the Iroquois Steeplechase (www.iroquoissteeplechase.org) at Percy Warner Park. Taking place on the second Saturday of May, the race is the nation’s oldest continuously run weight-for-age steeplechase in the country. Fans in sundresses or suspenders and hats enjoy watching some of the top horses in the country navigate the race course.
You can pay $15 general admission to sit on the hillside overlooking the stadium. Pack a blanket, food, and drinks, and you’ll have an excellent day. Various tailgating tickets are available and are priced according to how good the view is from the parking spot. If you want to tailgate, you need to buy tickets well in advance.
Taking place every weekend in May, the Tennessee Renaissance Festival (www.tnrenfest.com) celebrates all things medieval. Come to watch jousting matches, hear 16th-century comedy, or buy capes and swords. The festival takes place off Highway 96 between Franklin and Murfreesboro, about 25 minutes’ drive south from Nashville.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition