Nashville New Year

Appears in the December 2021 issue.

If music is what makes the party in your mind, a trip to Music City might be in order for a New Year’s Eve sojourn. Tennessee’s capital celebrates the holiday spectacularly with plentiful live music and enticing dining and nightlife options. You can book a room at any number of welcoming new hotels. Nonstop flights are a mere 90 minutes from Chicago, while a road trip will take about 7½ hours door to door.

The city’s official party—called New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash—is presented by CBS in Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, featuring fireworks and performances from Dierks Bentley, the Zac Brown Band, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Admission is free and proof of vaccination or negative COVID test within 72 hours is required.

Newly opened earlier this year in downtown Nashville, Fifth + Broadway is a block-long cluster of restaurants, shops, and other pedestrian-friendly attractions. Anchoring the development is the National Museum of African American Music (510 Broadway, 615.301.8724,, where interactive exhibits tell the story of the many music genres created and influenced by Black artists. For a quick bite or leisurely hangout, check out more than 30 food and drink vendors and a massive rooftop bar at Assembly Food Hall (5055 Broadway Pl., 615.800.5395, And just opened in September, The Twelve Thirty Club (550 Broadway, 629.236.0001, has plenty of star power thanks to its backing by Justin Timberlake. The three-floor venue contains a honky-tonk, swanky cocktail lounge, vintage-inspired supper club, and lush rooftop garden.

For a truly luxurious stay, the new Grand Hyatt Nashville (1000 Broadway, 615.622.1234, is just a few blocks away, with a rooftop pool, spa, and several restaurants, including the Continental from James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock. For more of a socially distant vibe, The Gallatin (2510 Gallatin Ave., 615.861.1634, in East Nashville is a concierge-less hotel with rooms ranging from tiny studio-style nooks to bunk suites for groups. A portion of your booking fee benefits local organizations helping homeless residents. 

Photo by Seth Parker