For anyone who has never been to Gaylord Opryland Resort’s A Country Christmas celebration it should be on the top of the list this year through Jan. 1.

In the heart of Donelson, the 36th-annual event is dubbed one of the top 10 places to spend Christmas in the world by Travel + Leisure. 

After a first visit by families, a trip to the resort will become a family tradition with a feast of Christmas joy to capture all the senses. And, add activities that will enchant toddlers up to grannies and papas.

The massive lighting ceremony took place Nov. 7, but the twinkling lights will abound, both inside and outside, at the resort until after the ball drops.

Teams of various designers have worked since mid-July at the resort, and “decking the halls” is an understatement. More than 3 million lights glow across the resort where Gaylord spokesperson Jessica Howard said more than 1 million people visit during the holidays each year. A Country Christmas is presented by Pepsi.

“Every year, we are in awe of the care and love our staff puts into decorating all nine acres of our indoor gardens along with the outside of the hotel,” said John Adams, market vice president and Gaylord Opryland’s general manager. “Our 3 million lights provide the perfect backdrop to all the other memory-making Christmas activities, including this year’s ICE! theme: A Christmas Story; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical; the Trace Adkins dinner show and so much more. For those who prefer a tropical holiday experience, SoundWaves, our upscale water attraction, offers year-round fun in a perfect 84-degree temperature.”

The ever-popular ICE! presented by DEI, is back again this year. However, the theme, A Christmas Story, is new. According to Howard, the event features scenes from the funny movie family in magnificent hand-carved ice sculptures. 

Kept at 9 degrees, ICE! is hand carved by 40 master artisans from Harbin, China, and will include iconic scenes such as the Old Man’s major award, Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare, the ultimate triple dog dare at the school’s flagpole and many more, according to Howard.

New memories can be added with the first outdoor Appalachian-esque village. The sprawling village includes ice skating, tubing, a children’s train, Santa’s Spinners teacup ride and a skating champions show. Add shopping, warm beverages and treats.

The walking distance Grand Ole Opry House will showcase Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer classic show, played out on the stage with all the favorite characters from the television show such as Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, the Abominable Snow Monster, Rudolph and many more. 

There’s also a scavenger hunt that features Rudolph for children and grownups alike. 

Country star Trace Adkins returns this year for his dinner show at the resort’s Tennessee Ballroom through Christmas Day. The Grand Ole Opry member’s show is called the Gift of Christmas with Trace Adkins and Friends. The show begins with a holiday meal, followed by Adkins and his friends’ favorite Christmas songs and also traditional music.

Add in carriage rides, holiday-themed cruises on the General Jackson Showboat, along with some free activities such as an outdoor nativity with audio of the biblical story. 

The resort and convention center is at 2,800 Opryland Drive. 

Visit christmasatgaylordopryland.com to book packages or buy tickets. 

BY THE NUMBERS

• 3 million holiday lights.

• more than 1 million visitors come to the resort during the holidays each year.

• 15,000 poinsettias.

• 15 miles of green garland.

• 10 miles of hand-tied, red ribbon.

• 48-foot-tall Christmas tree.

• 2-plus million pounds of ice for the ICE! attraction.

• nearly 7,000 giant blocks of colored and clear ice.

• 40 ice artisans from Harbin, China.

Recommended for you