What We’re Looking Forward to in Nashville in 2022

With hot new restaurants and returning music festivals, the new year is going to be big for Nashville.

Back in the day, we used to “pencil things in on our calendars,” when people actually used calendars… or pencils. For now, maybe you’d better keep 2022 in “draft mode,” but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of things to look forward to. Here’s what we’re most looking forward in the next year. Stay safe and dream big!

Catching some singular sports events

In addition to our local professional sports teams, Nashville is lucky to attract special one-off events to town because we’re just such an awesome place to visit. After the success of previous events like the NFL Draft, NHL All-Star Game, NCAA basketball regional tournaments, and others, Nashville has recently played host to NASCAR events, an IndyCar race through the streets of Downtown and international soccer matches at Nissan Stadium. For 2022, The US Figure Skating Championships will be held at Bridgestone Arena downtown, and they represent the final big event before the men’s and women’s Olympic teams are selected. Another sheet of ice will be featured, only outdoors this time, as the NHL brings the Stadium Series to Nissan Stadium for a battle between the Nashville Predators and the defending Stanley Cup champions from Tampa Bay. Of course, late February in Nashville means that it could be below zero or short-sleeve weather. Plan accordingly. The best in SEC women’s basketball will tip it off downtown in early March at the conference championship tournament to determine who’s going to the Big Dance.

CMA Fest
CMA Fest | Debby Wong/Shutterstock

The return of a couple of favorite festivals

CMA Fest and Bonnaroo are both vital events to the Middle Tennessee economy, and both of them were unfortunately canceled in 2021. COVID concerns shut down the week of performances by a host of country music superstars a couple of months before they were due to hit the stage, and Bonnaroo was beset by torrential storms the week before the festival, leaving the fields unsafe to slog around in, no matter what Woodstockian fantasies of a frolicking mudfest potential concert-goers might have imagined. Fortunately, both events are coming back this summer, and you can expect the audiences and the performers to be fired up to put on the best shows imaginable.

Taking advantage of our modern airport expansions

If we’re being honest, air travel pretty much sucks lately. But at the Nashville International Airport (BNA,) they have been hard at work to make it suck less with a series of major renovations called BNA Vision. They’ve already expanded parking options, baggage claim and ticketing areas, and added gates to concourse D. Those gates will be filled with a whole bunch of new flights in 2022, adding new potential destinations and airlines to carry you there. The return on the non-stop to London flight on American Airlines is also quite welcome for international jetsetters. Other excellent amenities include live music throughout the airport and food and drink options featuring outposts of some of your local eateries and drinkeries including coffee from 8th & Roast, Bongo Java, Kijiji, and Barista Parlor, craft beer from several local breweries, and hot chicken from 400 Degrees and Party Fowl.

Four Seasons Hotel Nashville
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Nashville

Planning a staycation at some hip new lodging options

Apparently, the appetite for luxury lodging options in Nashville has not abated. In addition to a host of boutique hotels and large upscale properties that have opened in the past few years, some notable top-shelf lodging opportunities are due to open in 2022. The tony Four Seasons Hotel Nashville will tower over downtown in a dramatic architectural marvel of a building rising 40 stories above the Cumberland River. The uppermost floors are slated to be million-dollar condos, but the views from the seventh-floor pool deck attached to the hotel should make for an ideal spot for enjoying a posh weekend away from home.

Aimed at the younger and hipper set, SoHo House is a membership collective group that offers access to facilities around the globe. Locally, the new property built in a former Wedgewood-Houston sock factory will feature 47 bedrooms and loft suites along with multiple entertainment and performance spaces. Much of the property will be decorated with accents created by local artisans to ensure a Nashville vibe to the entire experience.

Cheering on our Boys in Gold in their new home

Nashville SC has already proved to be a huge success, making the MLS playoffs in both of their first two seasons since entering the league as an expansion team. Thousands of avid soccer supporters cheer on the team at their games in Nissan Stadium, and the team rewarded their ardor by going undefeated at home in 2021. So imagine how loud it’ll get when they begin to play in their new state-of-the-art stadium, scheduled to open near the Fairgrounds on May 1. It will be the largest soccer-only facility in the entire league with fantastic sightlines and all the modern amenities you could hope for at a sporting event. Be one of the 30,000 fans who believe in #EverybodyN!

Bluebird Cafe
Bluebird Cafe | Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Celebrating some major music anniversaries

Everybody knows that Nashville is known as “Music City,” but it’s not common knowledge that the nickname didn’t come from the city’s association with country music. Last year, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a group that tours the world singing classic spirituals and gospel to raise money and awareness for HBCU Fisk University. During a tour of England in 1873, Queen Victoria saw them and remarked that “Nashville must be a truly musical city.” This year we will celebrate some notable anniversaries of a trio of other Nashville music institutions. The Ryman Auditorium turns 130 years old and will continue to host concerts by an eclectic assortment of musicians gracing its legendary stage. The multiple Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra celebrates 75 years of classical and pops performances with special shows at the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall in SoBro. The intimate space at the Bluebird Cafe has launched the careers of famous singer/songwriters from Garth Brooks to Taylor Swift. The Green Hills strip mall institution will commemorate 40 years of in-the-round performances in 2022.

Eating at some seriously exciting new restaurants

While 2021 did, unfortunately, have some sad departures from the local restaurant scene, there have also been plenty of new openings to be excited about. So we’re pumped up about some upcoming dining developments for 2022. Tailor Nashville earned national acclaim during its first few years of operation throwing festive dinner parties featuring new imaginings of the South Asian American cuisine of chef Vivek Surti’s youth. Surti has taken his show on the road for the past few months after moving out of the shared kitchen in his original location, and we can’t wait until he finally sets down roots at his new home in Germantown. Julio Hernandez is another talented local chef who has spread the love of his Maiz de la Vida around town from a food truck and by popping up at restaurants. His dedication to creating incredible Mexican food using organic heirloom corn has been worth chasing him around to find, but soon he’ll have his own spot in the Gulch, and we’ll be in line when the doors open. Finally, Nashvillians who have dined in Charleston know exactly how excited to be about the prospect of Xiao Bao Biscuit bringing an outpost of their amazing Asian eatery to East Nashville. Get ready to experience okonomiyaki and noodle nirvana.

Frist Art Museum
Frist Art Museum

Getting cultured at local art events

In addition to the music scene, Nashville is also home to a vibrant arts community, both creators and collectors. The downtown Frist Art Museum is the go-to spot for art lovers thanks to a packed schedule of rotating exhibitions. In 2022, they will feature contemporary Cuban art, a retrospective of the works of Alma Thomas, experimental creations from a band of Southern California artists and a nice nod to local public school art teachers showing off what they work on during their spare time.

Even more dramatic will be the Immersive Van Gogh Experience which is currently being installed in a former Harris Teeter grocery store location in West Nashville. Scheduled for a mid-February opening, the exhibition puts patrons inside of Van Gogh’s landscapes, portraits and still lifes through the use of hi-tech projections in the massive gallery spaces. Tickets are going fast, and it hasn’t even opened yet.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Chris Chamberlain is a food, drink, and travel writer. If Nashville was the Love Boat, he’d like to think he’d be Julie, your cruise director. In truth, he’s probably more of a Gopher. Join him on the Lido Deck on Twitter @CeeElCee.