Nashville takes the science of entertainment seriously, making it a lively place to visit year round.

That said, Music City adopts many different personalities throughout the year and assessing your areas of interest (and your tolerance for heat and severe weather) prior to booking a trip will ensure you make the most of your adventure to Tennessee’s capital city.

Spring and summer overflow with local festivals and music concerts, but these months also experience volatile weather. Fall and winter welcome a more subdued calendar event-wise, but also fewer crowds and less expensive prices. 

Whether you’re a music aficionado, an outdoor adventurer or a sports fanatic, here’s our guide to the best times to visit Nashville.

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A red kayak sits a the side of a lake on a sunny day
May and June might be the best months to visit Nashville for good weather © Malcolm MacGregor / Getty Images

May and June (plus October) are the best times for great weather

Nashville sits within the subtropical climate zone – which means it gets all the weather, all the time – but with some careful planning, you can vastly improve the odds of a pleasant, storm-free trip to Music City. May and June are in that glorious window between the severe weather common in the springtime (March and April make up the core of tornado season) and the oppressive heat and humidity of late summer. These months offer perfect patio weather, leafy green trees and blooming flowers, and plenty of sunshine – early summer is Nashville at its best.

For those who like a bit of crispness in the air, October is also an amazing time to visit weather-wise; the leaves turn brilliant oranges and reds, rain is scarce and the summer heat is a thing of the past. 

May to September is the best time for music

While you can find music in Nashville pretty much year-round, touring bands and music festivals significantly drop off in winter. “Music season” kicks off in May with local events like the Sevier Park Fest, Musician’s Corner, and the Full Moon Pickin’ Party making their debut, and it reaches a fever pitch in June with high profile concert events like CMA Fest, Bonnaroo and Nashville Pride.

Musical artists carry on their tours through the fall, and September invites an element of local charm with the long running music festival Live on the Green and the beloved Americana Fest that takes over stages around the city. 

January to March is the best time for budget travelers 

In general, we wouldn’t call Nashville a budget destination, but hotel prices and airfares do decrease in the winter months after the winter holiday season concludes. While winter travel may seem unappealing at first, the “cold” months here are generally mild (albeit a bit soggy) and it’s a great time to see Nashville’s cultural offerings without having to battle the crowds – getting into restaurants will be easier, ride-hailing transport options will be cheaper and the city takes on a bit of a “locals only” atmosphere.

Two people splash in the force of an fast-flowing waterfall
Cool down in one of Nashville's nearby waterways in the hot months of June to August © Ken Barber / Getty Images

June to August is the best time for water adventures

Nashville sits astride the Cumberland River, which feeds a dense network of lakes, creeks and small rivers. It takes the spring months to warm the water up but come June, locals are heading out to make a splash in their backyard water wonderland.

Grab a paddleboard and hit the Cumberland or the adjacent reservoirs of Percy Priest and Old Hickory Lakes – both of the latter lakes are approximately a 30-minute drive from the city center. If you love to take a lazy float on a river in a kayak or an inner tube, it’s hard to beat the Harpeth River, which is a similar distance from downtown. Waterfall lovers who have a set of wheels will want to drive to nearby Rock Island State Park or Cummins Falls State Park – both offer spectacular views of cascades, epic swimming holes and opportunities for a perfect summer afternoon. 

Heads up, though: rain comes down fast and hard in July so always be weather-informed before hitting the water. Flooding happens quickly and can be very dangerous. Alternatively, things start to dry up toward the end of August so low water levels in smaller bodies of water may disrupt some float plans. 

Two small children follow a trail through green woodland on a summer's day
Spring weather can be unpredictable in Nashville so save hikes until fall © Cavan Images / Getty Images

September to November is the best time for hiking

While one would assume that hiking season would overlap with water adventure season – and it does for some of the heartier folk out there – the summer heat (and the bugs that come with it) can make a hike feel more like a slog, depending on the weather. For this reason we love hitting the many trails around the city during the cool(er), dry fall months, when the gorgeous colors are an added bonus.

Spring gets an honorable mention for hiking (the blooming season is truly a wonder), but storm season in Nashville is no joke. Weather during March and April is notoriously unpredictable, sometimes with dangerous consequences; it could just be rain, or it could be hail, flooding or, the worst-case scenario, a tornado. Always check the weather forecast before you strap on those hiking boots and try to be flexible with your plans; many a spring camping trip has been washed out by pop-up storms.

August to September is the best time to see artsy Nashville

The Nashville performing and visual arts scenes rock year round but late summer brings a batch of delightfully quirky and avant garde festivals to the fore, making it an excellent time to get familiar with the city’s artsy underground.

Things kick off in late July/early August with Kindling Arts Festival, dedicated to promoting local theater, dance and experimental art. In mid-August East Nashville embraces its favorite tradition, the Tomato Art Fest, a multi-day celebration of every southerner’s favorite fruit/vegetable. Embracing the tomato mantra “A Uniter, Not A Divider!,” participants show up in tomato-inspired garb to enjoy parades, concerts, art vendors, Bloody Mary contests and more.

The fun keeps on going with the Defy Film Festival, which brings local and international filmmakers to Nashville screens to share their work, and the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, a multi-week program that invites folks to enjoy Shakespearean classics and more contemporary theater pieces in a picnic setting. 

September to October is the best time for spectator sports

Home to NHL, NFL and MLS teams, Nashville takes its sports seriously, and attending a game is a great way to participate in the vivacious sporting experience the town is known for. September and October represent the single time that all three of these seasons overlap – check out the Nashville Soccer Club at the new Geodis Stadium, chant at the top of your lungs with Predators fans as the occasional rogue throws a catfish on the ice, or cheer on a Titans touchdown with 69,000 fellow fans at the Nissan Stadium.

This article was first published Feb 12, 2021 and updated Apr 11, 2023.

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