It's no wonder more than a million visitors make a pilgrimage to Gaylord Opryland in Nashville each year for "A Country Christmas." A feast for the senses, it's full of Southern charm and hospitality – and enough lights, trees and decorations to keep you in the holiday spirit long after you leave.
1. Two million holiday lights
Gaylord Opryland Cascades Atrium — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Opryland
Nothing says “holidays” like lots and lots of lights, and no one does them better than Opryland. Horticulturists started working in July to transform the resort into a winter wonderland, decking every inch with dazzling shapes, colors and designs. The result is magical, but the best things that are lit up? The faces of young guests taking it all in.
2. Parade of Trees
Dolly Parton's Tree for Charity in Opryland's Parade of Trees — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Some of the biggest names in country music – Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn – have donated trees and goodies to support their favorite charitable causes through this fundraiser. Take a free, self-guided tour of the 14 unique and creatively-decorated trees, all up for grabs to the highest bidder.
Nativity Scene at ICE! at Opryland — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Opryland
To tell the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, forty master artisans from China hand carved larger-than-life sculptures from two million pounds of ice. This signature Opryland holiday attraction is kept at nine degrees Fahrenheit, and everyone gets a giant blue parka to wear to avoid becoming one of the frozen. Be sure to take a turn going down the multi-story ice slides before ending at the breathtaking Nativity Scene.
4. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical at the Grand Ole Opry
"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical" at the Grand Ole Opry — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Opryland
Seeing the classic holiday musical at the legendary music venue is such a treat, and one of the most fun ways to go green. Don’t be a Grinch and put off buying tickets because this is the last year the show will be playing there.
5. Breakfast With The Grinch!
Breakfast with the Grinch at Opryland — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Don your stretchy pants for this all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet featuring everything from Whoville Waffles to One-of-a-Kind French Toast. By the time the smirking Grinch himself joins you at your table, you’ll be able to commiserate over the fact that his heart is “two sizes too small” – because your jeans will be, too.
6. Chocolate, peppermint and mistletoe spa treatments
Seasonal scents at Opryland's Relâche Spa — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Escape the craziness of the season and de-stress with an afternoon at Opryland’s award-winning Relâche Spa. Seasonal specials include a peppermint scrub body massage, a chocolate facial and a luxurious pedicure with a candy cane champagne soak. Take 15% off by booking all three treatments. It’s a better package than anything you’re likely to find under the tree.
7. Playing in the snow
Snow tubing at Opryland — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Opryland
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Experience snow, Southern-style, on Opryland’s extreme snow tubing hill, covered in 1.5 million pounds of real snow. You can also go skating on the 6000-square-foot ice rink, test your aim at Santa’s Snowball Toss and tour the outdoor lights on a one-horse open carriage ride.
8. Holiday card photo ops
Tree made of 700 poinsettias at Opryland — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Opryland
Get a head start on next year’s cards by gathering the family – or taking a selfie – in front of any of the towering trees or enormous ornaments around the resort. With nine acres of indoor gardens filled with 50,000 tropical plants from six continents, not to mention a river flowing through the resort, the photo ops are endless. One of the most beautiful backgrounds? The magnificent tree laden with 700 of Opryland’s 15,000 poinsettias.
9. Culinary creations
Maître fromager at Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Opryland — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Food is a huge part of any holiday celebration and, with more than a dozen places to eat, Opryland has something for everyone. Try Ravello for crispy risotto or lobster and shrimp tortellini, and Cascades American Cafe for burgers and fresh fish.
Enjoy the holiday fountain shows, with music, lights and jets shooting water 85 feet up toward the 150-foot-tall Delta Atrium dome, while dining on filet mignon or a New York strip at Old Hickory Steakhouse. And don’t forget to say “cheese” so the maître fromager will visit your table and create a special selection just for you.
10. Music City
Opryland lights up Music City — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Although it’s tempting to never leave Opryland, it would be a shame to visit Nashville without checking out any of the live music venues on Broadway or catching a performance at Ryman Auditorium or the Bluebird Cafe. And, even if you’re not a music fan, there’s so much else to see in the city before returning to your room at Opryland, where you can relax on your patio and take in the spectacular view.