Jun 5, 2024 - Things to Do

What to know as CMA Fest returns

Luke Bryan performs onstage for night 4 of the 50th CMA Fest at Nissan Stadium on June 11, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Luke Bryan at CMA Fest last year. Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images for CMA

Tens of thousands of country music fans from around the world will visit Music City this week for the return of CMA Fest.

Why it matters: The annual music festival is one of the tentpole events that built Nashville into the tourism destination it is today. And with country music in the midst of a commercial resurgence, the spectacle is only getting bigger.

What's happening: Downtown Nashville is making its annual transformation from Thursday-Sunday. Concert stages will be staggered throughout the neighborhood, roads will be closed and the already crowded sidewalks of Lower Broadway will be at capacity as throngs of fans navigate the festival footprint.

Flashback: About 5,000 people attended the first iteration of the festival, which was previously known as Fan Fair, in April 1972. In the years since, the festival has changed names and morphed into an annual powerhouse that generates millions of dollars.

If you go: Many of country music's biggest stars are performing during the nightly shows at Nissan Stadium, which require tickets. But as always, much of CMA Fest programming is free to the public.

Zoom in: Established acts and up-and-comers will perform back-to-back at five free stages.

  • Well-known acts from the 1990s and 2000s will perform free sets, including Darryl Worley, Mark Wills and Jamie O'Neal.
  • Other hitmakers playing for free include Lauren Alaina and Ingrid Andress.

What we're watching: Some of our latest favorites will be part of the free shows.

  • Mickey Guyton is performing at 4:15pm Friday at the ​​Dr Pepper Amp Stage at Ascend Park.
  • Rising star Shaboozey, who is playing Nissan Stadium on Thursday, will be back at 1:35pm Friday for a free set at the Good Molecules Reverb Stage outside Bridgestone Arena.
  • The War and Treaty will perform for free at 10:45am Saturday at the Chevy Riverfront Stage before stopping by the stadium that night.

If you stay home: Nissan Stadium performances will once again be recorded for a primetime special that will air June 25 on ABC and stream the next day on Hulu.

Check out the full lineup

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