A Guide to Visiting Nashville's Iconic Grand Ole Opry
No trip to Nashville would be complete without a visit to the legendary Grand Ole Opry! Country music lover or not, there is something there for everyone which is likely why it welcomes over a million guests each year.
I personally have been a lover of country music for as long as I can remember. As the daughter of a boy born and raised in Santa Fe, I have fond memories of singing and dancing (and laughing) to “Achy Breaky Heart” back in the 90’s. And it wasn’t until probably middle school that I discovered not all Christmas music was of the country genre. To this day we still play nothing more than Vince Gill’s 1993 album “Let There Be Peace on Earth” once the holidays come around!
So when the opportunity of not only visiting Music City but also THE Grand Ole Opry was presented to me, I guess you could say I was a tiny bit excited. My night at the Opry ended up being a magical evening that surpassed my expectations, and is therefore something I highly recommend doing!
ABOUT THE GRAND OLE OPRY
The Grand Ole Opry is, in my opinion, the most iconic country music venue in the world. In fact, it is the show that made country music famous! It has been around since 1925, originally at the Ryman Auditorium prior to moving to the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974.
The Opry is wonderful for many reasons, most interesting of which I think is the spectrum of artists that perform there. On any given night you may find up-and-coming artists, new stars, superstars, and even legends like Opry regular Vince Gill. It also proudly features all types of country music (today’s hits, classics, bluegrass, etc.) so odds are you’ll likely hear a little bit of everything during your visit.
ATTEND A LIVE SHOW
While you can technically visit the Opry without attending a show, why would you?! Even if you aren’t a huge country music fan, it’s an experience worth having! Plus I really do think there is something truly magical about a country music show, especially here.
The Opry has live shows year round every Friday and Saturday. From February to October there are also shows on Tuesdays and from June through August on Wednesdays. To find out who is playing when, check out the Opry calendar.
Each show at the Opry includes eight or more artists. Yes, really! The show I went to included Chris Young, Lindsay Ell, Tommy Emmanuel & Jerry Douglas, The SteelDrivers, Drake White, Bill Anderson, and John Conlee.
Each artist, duo, or group played for 15 minutes (around 3 songs each), except Chris Young who played for 30. While on paper that likely seems quite short, I actually really enjoyed it because we got to hear such a wide variety and be introduced to more (potentially new-to-you) artists.
THE ULTIMATE VIP TOUR
The Opry offers three different backstage tours — the daytime tour, the post-show tour, and the VIP tour. As a guest of the Opry I was treated to the VIP Tour and honestly cannot recommend it enough.
The VIP Tour starts with a private tour of the backstage area. My guide first showed me where all the stars come in and taught me that most artists drive themselves to the show. No buses, no escorts, just a simple drive to their local venue! Kind of crazy given how big some of the stars are, but that’s part of what makes the Opry so charming.
Next my guide showed me the “Grand Ole Opry Post Office” where each Opry member has a mailbox to hold their fan mail. I don’t know who member #138 is but they sure have a lot of fans!
While taking a bunch of photos of the beautiful post office, I looked over to my left and noticed Chris Young ten feet from me being interviewed by ABC. I was trying to be respectful by not shoving a big camera in his face so I didn’t snap any photos, unfortunately.
Instead I tried to secretly make an Instagram story video of him which he ended up catching me doing as he turned around. Oops! It’s on the Nashville highlight on my Instagram in case you missed it.
From here I got to peek into a handful of dressing rooms. There are 18 in total and each is uniquely themed. In 2010 the Opry closed due to damage from a horrible flood and at this time the rooms were restored and renovated into the beautiful spaces they are today!
Last but certainly not least, we headed onto the stage, again passing by Chris Young as he talked to some friends. We stood literally on stage as the red curtain came up which was epic, and then watched the first performance post-intermission from the stage. UNREAL!
The VIP Tour is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To be totally honest, I’m not a ginormous fan of any artist that was performing the night I went and it was still SO amazing. Now I’m determined to return when someone I really love (Dierks, Cole, Kenny, Garth, Vince, etc.) is performing and do the tour all over again!
STREAM THE SHOW FROM HOME
Something I was not aware of prior to this experience is that every Opry show is streamed live! And while I certainly don’t recommend replacing an Opry visit with this option, it is a neat offering worth checking out in addition.