All the Festivals, Concerts, and Fun Things to Do in Nashville This August

These are all your local must-hit food and music festivals, events, movies, markets, deals, and concerts to help you make the most of your weekend.

With a name like “Music City USA,” Nashville leaves no doubt about the quality of its concert venues, and even the singers at local karaoke bars could probably win any talent contest in less musical cities. That abundance of talent is matched by the staff and select at the city’s iconic dive bars to upscale cocktail lounges and crafty breweries, thrift shops filled with vintage clothing and instruments, fabulous coffee shops, and indie bookstores.

The culinary scene in Nashville is equally outrageous, with the must-get food that starts before visitors even leave the airport. The city’s most famous dish, Nashville hot chicken, is just a starting point, because the city has fantastic barbecue, burgers, pizza, biscuits, and even some pretty respectable seafood for a landlocked state. Whether you’re looking for a quintessential Nashville dining experience or the hottest restaurants new and old, you’re in luck.

And when it’s time to get out and about, Nashville has a plethora of options: go to a museum, have a drink on a rooftop, go jump in a lake, bust out of an escape room. Or you could just check out our August 2023 calendar for a little inspiration. Whatever you’re in the mood for, Nashville has you covered.

Wilson County Fair - TN State Fair

Food and Drink Events in Nashville

August 5
East Nashville, Free
Neighborhood fixture East Nashville Beer Works celebrates seven years of beers with a free party on the grounds of the brewery. The party will be tiki-inspired for no reason other than it’s fun, so expect tropical treats and decorations along with fruity beers, flowery leis, and island music. A crafts fair will feature local vendors in booths spread around the taproom entrance.

Every Friday in August
East Nashville, Free to attend, $20 for buffet dinner
Event space Riverside Revival opens its doors each Friday in August for a free concert series featuring local performers like country performer Joshua Headley and the New Orleans-inspired horn funk of Half Brass. The kitchen will be serving up a classic Southern buffet for $20 a head, a bargain considering the spread includes fried catfish and hushpuppies, soulful side dishes like white beans and turnip greens, plus banana pudding as a sweet treat to end the meal.

August 11
Downtown, $85 and up
Partake in “the coolest beer festival in town” with hosts the NHL’s Nashville Predators where they’ll be serving up dozens of different craft beers in the concourse of their home ice at Bridgestone Arena. The fest benefits the team’s charitable foundation which gives grants to local nonprofits. Your admission includes a ticket to a hockey game next season, and VIP level tickets grant admission to a special lounge with elevated food and beer options.

August 17 - 26
Lebanon, $12
Sure, we know that some people say they go to the state fair for the carnival rides, livestock exhibitions, tractor pulls, musical performances, and crafts demonstrations, but the truth is that it’s all about the food. If you can drop it in a fryer, they’ll fry it. If it fits on a wooden skewer, you can enjoy it on a stick as you walk the midway.

Through August 31
Downtown, Free
Rare Bird is the rooftop lounge at the boutique Noelle hotel downtown, and they have partnered with the purveyors at The Peach Truck for a month of special dishes glorifying the sweetest, most floral fruits of the summer. This pop-up opportunity will feature cocktails crafted using juicy peaches along with small bites that show off the fruit’s versatility in both sweet and savory dishes.

Tomato Art Fest

Festivals in Nashville

August 11 - 12
East Nashville, Free
East Nashville shows off its weirdest side at this beloved annual celebration of the pomme d'amour. As tomatoes reach their peak at local farmer’s markets, Nashvillians gather in Five Points for a full day of cooking contests, musical performances, art exhibitions, and costume competitions that revolve around the delicious red fruits, er… vegetables. Fruits! Vegetables! Billed as “a uniter, not a divider,” the 20th annual Tomato Arts Fest kicks off with a huge parade where participants are encouraged to fly their freak flags and dress in their reddest finery.

August 18 - 19
Downtown, $120 and up
This upscale music, art, and style festival lands again at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park for two days of dance music on multiple stages. Deep Tropics aims to be “the greenest festival in the United States,” and they walk the walk with a zero waste initiative to ensure everything is either recyclable, compostable, or re-usable, and festival organizers plant trees wherever they visit. The house music will be pumping through state-of-the-art sound systems, and afterparties at Brooklyn Bowl, Eastside Bowl and The Office will keep the festivities going into the wee hours.

Defy Film Festival

Arts & entertainment events in Nashville

Thursday - Sunday through August 31
Downtown, $28
In case you’ve had your head in the sand for the past month, a recent movie opening has thrust a certain Mattel doll to the top of the cultural zeitgeist. The boutique Fairlane Hotel downtown has jumped on the Barbie bandwagon by converting a penthouse into a rosy-hued mid-century modern Palm Springs homage. The hotel is offering packages to stay the night and enjoy the private penthouse pool, or you can just buy a ticket to visit and enjoy two drinks and free valet parking. Because Barbie doesn’t bother with parking garages.

August 18 - 19
East Nashville, $12.50 per showing
Nashville’s most avant-garde indie film fest has been around since 2016, bringing the works of experimental filmmakers to two screens at Studio 615 in East Nashville. Committed to showcasing unconventional cinema, Defy will screen more than 60 films over the course of the weekend, so the discounted all-festival pass is definitely the power move. They’ll also offer free movies playing on a loop in the lobby and the lounge theater so you can watch more movies between movies.

August 19
West Nashville, $20 and up
Cheekwood is shining a spotlight on Black artists of many types at this full day of music, dance, spoken word, and visual art. Educational seminars will highlight the cultural impact of Black authors and illustrators, the Harlem Renaissance, and African textiles. A cocktail tasting will feature Black-owned spirits brands, and local Black chefs will offer soulful Southern classic dishes for purchase. Musical performances will cross genres from gospel to funk to soul to jazz to Afrobeat.

August 19
Franklin, $10 and up
Shoppers can pay for the price of admission by simply purchasing one piece of clothing at Fashion for a Fraction, where more than 20 boutique vendors will be offering apparel, handbags, jewelry, and other accessories at up to 75% off normal prices. Shop for BOGO deals or grab some garb from the $15 clothing racks to refresh your wardrobe without emptying your bank account.

August 25 - 27
West Nashville, $20 and up
Bring a blanket or a lawn chair to lounge on the lovely grounds of Cheekwood Botanical Gardens while listening to three Nashville hitmakers playing their chart-toppers and telling the stories behind the writing process. The Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra will accompany the songwriters, food trucks will provide the eats, and drink vendors will offer wines by the bottle, cocktails and local craft brews to enjoy while you kick back and relax under the firmament.

Luke Bryan | Debby Wong/Shutterstock

Live Music in Nashville

August 12
Downtown, $105 and up
Mega country star Luke Bryan brings his tangy baritone and repertoire of hit songs to Music City for a stop at Bridgestone Arena as part of his Country on Tour 2023 series of concerts. Always engaging and entertaining, Bryan should have the crowd eating out of his hand with the first note, so you know it’ll be a party.

August 26
Fairgrounds, $119 and up
At the age of 61, Axl Rose may have lost a note or two at the top of his vocal range, but he still screams with the best of them when it comes to rock and roll. He’ll be bringing Slash, Duff, and the rest of Guns N’ Roses to the home of Nashville SC for a full-on rock show in a soccer stadium. They’ve been playing the hits on this tour, so you won’t hear too many deep cuts between bangers. Plan your beer and bathroom breaks accordingly.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Chris Chamberlain is a food, drink, and travel writer based out of his hometown of Nashville. Find him on Twitter @CeeElCee