Spending Christmas at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee

Panda bear is coming to town for Christmas (Photo: MCArnott)

Panda bear is coming to Opryland for Christmas (Photo: MCArnott)

Streams of lights fall like incandescent snowflakes, characters of children’s books and cartoons hang from small-scale hot-air balloons and parachutes. Only Santa can bring more excitement at the Opryland Hotel!

You might not deck your halls before December, but Opryland does. It takes months to hang 180 miles of strings with two millions (LED) lights outdoor, plus 200,000 lights indoor, and some 15 miles of garlands all over. Did I mention ten miles of red hand-tied ribbons? Can you imagine 36 truckloads of ice delivered over 15 days? Numbers keep blowing my mind: It takes almost a week to decorate each of the 26 magnolia trees of the 40-acre resort.

Nashville is otherwise famous as the home of country music, the Blue Bird Café, the legendary Grand Ole Opry Hall, and Gibson guitars. Personally, the Tennessee capital brings back memories of a Christmas extravaganza at Opryland. In fact, Travel + Leisure magazine listed the Nashville Gaylord Opryland Resort as one of the best places to spend Christmas.

In your Bucket Because…

  • Christmas is your favorite holiday.
  • The festivities begin on November 11th, 2016 and end on January 1st, 2017.
  • You can drop your Christmas list directly into Santa’s Opryland mailbox.
  • It’s an exquisite experience for anyone, regardless of culture.

The Opryland Christmas Stories

Outdoor illuminations at the Opryland in Nashville

Some of the outdoor illuminations at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville (Photo: MCArnott)

A Country Christmas has been an Opryland tradition for over 30 years. It’s also reminiscent of the foundation of Nashville on Christmas Eve, in 1779. Then in 2010, Christmas marked the renaissance of the resort when it reopened after the flood that devastated Tennessee, and immersed the hotel ground level under eight feet of water.

Experiencing Christmas at the Opryland

The Garden Conservatory transformed into a Christmas floral display (Photo: MCArnott)

After leaving the lobby for the Cascades area, we did what people around us did: We stopped, spell-bound by the sounds and sights. We listened to carolers, spotted gnomes peeking from under the bushes, and greeted Christmas characters.

From the Cascades Skywalk and then from the balcony of our inside-view room, I felt as if I were part of the decor (well, almost!). I couldn’t wait, however, to go to the nine-acre Garden Conservatory, blooming under a dome of glass and metal. Walkways led me to theme-flowerbeds filled with full-size trees, bushes and tropical plants: some 50,000 of them! The poinsettias alone made their seasonal statement: gazillions of them! And anywhere they could be strung, lights twinkled.

The Opryland Hotel is spectacular in any season, but Christmas highlights its signature features. The fountain that shoots up 85-feet-high, and the musical water-show. The 44-foot-high cascade that trickles down to rocky rivulets, the paddlewheel boat for a dinner-show cruise, and why not: an indoor lake.

A Christmas Plan for Children

A message for children of all ages at the Opryland in Nashville (MCArnott)

Opryland hires some 300 seasonal staff during the Christmas Holidays: Santa needs a special one. (Photo: MCArnott)

This is an event made for children: pointing fingers, big eyes, and open-mouths on every child’s face were quite gratifying. This year again, Santa is not short of kid-friendly activities:

  • First, request a wake-up call from one of their beloved characters , and meet them for breakfast.
  • Follow with some playtime in real snow on the six-lane hill of the Artic Plunge Snow-tubing, or down the 20-foot-tall ice slide.
  • Then, visit ICE! and the whimsical world of Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer.
  • Enjoy Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas-the Musical!
  • Before calling it a day, let them wind down in one of the swimming-pools!

Choosing Daytime Activities and Evening Shows

Opryland indoor view

Browse in the shops of Opryland indoor streets or dine at one of 176 restaurants (Photo: MCArnott)

Ambling in Opryland’s climate-controlled “biosphere” will eventually lead you to the lively street-setting of Delta Island. You will almost forget that you are indoors.

Later, don’t miss the Frostbite Factory! Its stunning ice sculptures are as clear as Waterford crystal: the result of de-ionized water slowly frozen that “allows the molecules to line up.” Two million pounds of ice will have been carved during the holidays, including a complete Nativity scene.

Plan on a musical dinner-show with Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers!

While you choose among the many activities, have a Goo Goo! It’s Nashville’s decadent treat of caramel, peanut, nougat, and marshmallow dipped in chocolate.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


  • Marriott Vacation Club Owners can use and earn reward points at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, and at the Inn at Opryland. They also benefit from special discounts.
  • No need to be a hotel guest to enjoy Christmas at Opryland, but check the Overnight-Stay Options!
  • Complimentary high speed Internet. Smoke-free resort. Accessibility. No pets, except service dogs.
  • Expect a self-parking fee and the additional resort tax!
  • Christmas shopping: the hotel Treasures for the Holidays Craft and Gift Show, the Opry Mills Mall (complimentary shuttle for hotel guests) and the hotel shops.
  • Ask the concierge for the closest houses of worship.
  • Airport: 8 miles away/Est. taxi fare $25, or $40 round-trip by hotel shuttle.
  • Other attractions in Nashville (7 miles away).

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