Everything You Must Do in Nashville This Weekend

Derby weekend is here.

We don’t know if you’ve visited Lower Broad on a weekend lately (or followed along on the local police scanner Twitter account), but apparently people have really been aching to get back into bars. The Kentucky Derby seems to definitely be a precipitating event, because there are Derby parties planned all over town for Saturday afternoon’s race at Churchill Downs. If you’re not ready for crowds or the ponies aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other fun goings-on going on this weekend, from another massive crawfish boil to a Dead cover band to some pretty impressive LEGO Bricks artwork in the gardens at Cheekwood.

Friday, April 30
Franklin
Speaking of buzzy music, one of the region’s premiere Grateful Dead tribute bands takes the stage at The Factory at Franklin for a couple sets of trippy and truckin’ tunes. Rather than trying to replicate the sounds of the Dead note-for-note, The Tennessee Dead uses the band’s canon as a jumping off point for their own musical explorations. Show up pre-gamed and ready to chair dance.
Cost: $15

Saturday, May 1 - Sunday, May 2
So Bro
This popular Pie Town brewery will host two days of beer, music, and boiling ‘bugs as part of their annual crawfish boil block party. They’ll even be using their own Hippies & Cowboys IPA in the pots as they boil up a literal ton of fresh crawfish imported from Louisiana. Make reservations in advance if you want to ensure a table for you and your posse as you binge on crustaceans, corn, potatoes and spicy andouille sausage.
Cost: $15

Friday, April 30 - Saturday, May 1
Downtown
While it won’t be quite as wild as when Nashville hosted hundreds of thousands of NFL fans for the 2019 draft, Cleveland will do their best to make this year’s selection process a big event. But the NFL Draft is still crucial for the future of your hometown Titans as they seek to fill a few roster holes, so head down to Nashville Underground to sit among like minded fans and boo lustily when the team picks somebody from a college team you don’t like.
Cost: Free

Bobby Hotel lawn
Courtesy of Bobby Hotel

Saturday, May 1
Downtown
The downtown boutique hotel, Bobby, celebrates their third birthday with an old fashioned backyard barbecue featuring food, drinks and live music from Ruthie Collins & Nikita Karmen, Reuben Bidez, and Alyssa Bonagura. It’s totally casual, so no ticket is required. Just show up to be part of the fun starting at noon and running until sunset.
Cost: Free

Saturday, May 1 - Sunday, May 2
West Nashville
Acclaimed artist Sean Kenney used almost a million individual LEGO Bricks to create 38 whimsical large-scale sculptures scattered across the grounds of the botanical gardens at Cheekwood. Designed to interact with the nature that surrounds them, these sculptures will offer fun for all ages throughout the summer. Catch the exhibition early during this opening weekend before the word gets out and the crowds descend like cicadas.
Cost: $25

Saturday, May 1
The Gulch
You’d think it was more than just a couple of hours to Louisville, considering how many Nashvillians are hungry to watch the Kentucky Derby but prefer to stay closer to home. Horse racing fans have plenty of chances to watch the big race, and each different event brings something unique to the party. At Gertie’s Bar at The 404 Kitchen, they’ll host partiers inside and outdoors on their cozy patio while guests enjoy Maker’s Mark Mint Juleps and live bluegrass music. It’s first-come-first served starting at 3 pm, so grab your place in the stands early!
Cost: Free

Anzie Blue
Courtesy of Anzie Blue

Friday, April 30 - Sunday, May 2
Hillsboro Village
The cool CBD-centric coffee house Anzie Blue has added music to the menu with weekend performances by local live acts. Friday and Saturday nights feature soul, blues, and R&B while weekend brunches showcase some smooth jazz to go along with your shrimp hempy, err… scampi. They even offer an hour of free parking in their attached garage, an amenity rarely heard of around these parts.
Cost: Free

Saturday, May 1
Downtown
Your admission includes two drink tickets for Mint Juleps and Mojitos and classic passed bites like pimento cheese bites and mini Hot Browns while you watch the big race on the big screen on the tony downtown hotel’s rooftop. Holston House will be hosting a hat contest with prizes like a one night hotel stay and boozy tea service for two, so bring your most elegant chapeau.
Cost: $30

Saturday, May 1
SoBro
Derby fans will gather on the rooftop of the parking garage at City Tap in SoBro for an afternoon and evening of race watching, drink specials, live DJ sets, and a contest for the best dressed. If you want to pretend you're on Millionaires Row at Churchill, bottle service is available if you want to party like a big baller.
Cost: $20

Saturday, May 1
Midtown
The Graduate Hotel’s rooftop destination, White Limozeen, will be the place to be for a day of traditional Derby celebration. They’ll be offering $12 Old Forester Mint Julep and Finlandia Vodka Pimm's Cup specials all day, plus a local milliner, A. Botts Willis, will be selling vintage and custom goods to augment your festive wardrobe. The winners of the “Best Derby Dressed” contest as well as whoever picks the closest to the correct race time will receive one of A. Botts Willis’ popular custom hats. Here’s a hint: they call it “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”
Cost: free

Saturday, May 1
SoBro
Hey, big spender, do we have a Derby soiree for you! For just $180 a head, you and nine of your friends can enjoy Hampton Social’s exclusive Rosé All Day Lounge Experience Package, which includes rental of your own special VIP space, welcome drinks, four bottles of bubbly, and small bites. You can also party with the rest of the general public at the party, listening to live music, enjoying drink deals, raffles, contests and a showing of the Derby on big screens.
Cost: $1,800 for ten people

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