Nashville’s Live Music Events Elevate Tourism and Local Economy During 2023 Summer Season

Festivals, Stadium Shows Generated Millions of Dollars in Visitor Spending.

NASHVILLE – Music City experienced a strong summer for tourism and economic growth with CMA Fest and Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th generating significant visitor spending and hotel demand. Also, stadium shows from Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and George Strait served as catalysts for strong leisure demand.

“The summer was chock-full of live music and brought visitors from all over the world to Music City, helping bolster the city’s economic activity,” said Deana Ivey, President and CEO, of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “The city welcomed stadium tours and music events that drove hotel demand to new heights, along with visitation and exposure for the city.”

Additionally, the NHL Draft & Awards in June and SEC Media Days in July continued to expand Nashville’s stature as a sports city and both brought national television coverage on ESPN, TNT, the SEC Network, and more – with the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville being the most viewed on record. Additionally, both CMA Fest and Let Freedom Sing! were nationally broadcast.

CMA Fest was held from June 8 to 11 and generated $74.7 million in estimated direct visitor spending. This year’s event was extremely successful in attracting new visitors to Music City, with an increase from the previous year in first-time attendees and international visitors. The event aired on July 19 in a nationally televised package that included a three-hour special on ABC and a documentary on ABC and Hulu.

The following month, Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th generated $11.6 million in estimated direct visitor spending, an increase from 2022’s visitor spending of $11 million, despite the holiday falling on a Tuesday. As previously announced, an estimated 250,000 attendees came to Nashville for the free downtown concert and fireworks show that featured three-time GRAMMY award-winner and country music icon Brad Paisley as the headliner. The event drove hotel room demand on July 4th with an 8% increase over last year.  

The Amazon Family Fun Zone at Music City Walk of Fame Park gave the holiday additional appeal with families with the family demographic reaching its highest total in the last four years at 38%.

Stadium Tours

Three major concert tours passing through Music City also made a positive impact on tourism and the local economy.

Taylor Swift Eras Tour: The early May three-night stand at Nissan Stadium amassed nearly 212,000 people in total. At the time of her performance, Swift set a record for most attendees at Nissan Stadium for a single event each night with 71,000 attendees on Sunday. Hotel occupancy was through the roof all three nights, notably 96% on Saturday, May 6, which was 26% higher year over year. The three days combined brought in an estimated $2.2 million in hotel taxes alone.

Ed Sheeran: In July, the international sensation performed at the iconic Ryman Auditorium in Downtown Nashville before setting an attendance record at Nissan Stadium with 73,874 fans on July 22, breaking Swift’s recent record. Daily hotel occupancy in the county was 91%, up 15% year over year.

George Strait: Wrapping up the summer concert tours, the country legend performed with Chris Stapleton for two nights in front of sold-out crowds at Nissan Stadium. Hotel room demand for these two nights was just as strong as the Taylor Swift weekend.  

Major Sporting Events

Nashville was elevated on the global stage this summer with the 2023 NHL Draft and Awards being held on Broadway and at Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators. The 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville was the most viewed on record, averaging 681,000 viewers, according to ESPN. Average viewership increased 49% compared to last year, and total viewership peaked at 903,000 viewers, per ESPN. NHL Awards averaged 274,000 viewers on TNT with this year’s viewership of the NHL Awards in Nashville up 11% from last year’s edition on ESPN (247,000). It was the largest audience for the event since 2017.

The eyes of college football were on Music City in July, as Nashville served as the backdrop for SEC Media Days. The elites of Division 1 college football from all across the South gathered in Nashville for nationally televised events across media platforms such as ESPN and the SEC Network with live shows being produced from Music City.

Nashville’s accessibility as a centrally located hub has been crucial to the city’s success in attracting visitors. Nashville has become a premier drivable market based on its geographical location within the country. With a city-record 99 non-stop flights to Music City, Nashville International Airport (BNA) recorded a record-breaking FY 2023 with 21.9 million passengers landing in Nashville, an 18.7% increase from its previous record-breaking year.

Further breakdowns on CMA Fest 2023 and Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th are below.

CMA Fest 2023

CMA Fest continues as Nashville’s largest annual tourism event and produces the highest level of direct spending of any annual tourism event held in Nashville. Estimated Director Visitor Spend was $74.7 million dollars, an increase from the previous year.

CMA Fest saw the number of hotel rooms sold increase 3% from last year and hotel revenue increased by 7.4% with an average length of stay of 4.9 nights.

The event was a proven success as 94% of surveyed attendees said they would attend CMA in 2024. Momentum for CMA Fest has spread to newcomers to Nashville as 61% of visitors said this was their first-time attending CMA Fest, which was an increase from 2022. The event also saw an increase in international visitors at 9%.  

More highlights from the Nashville CVC’s CMA Fest survey results include the following:

  • Average spend in the city’s economy per traveling party: $3,244
  • Average size of traveling party: 3.3
  • Average length of stay: 4.9 nights
  • First-time attendees: 61%
  • Likely to attend next year: 94%
  • International visitors: 9%
  • Accommodations: 69% chose hotels; 15% chose short-term home rentals
  • Top five feeder states of visitors: Florida, New York, Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio
  • Attendees likely to recommend to others from a scale of 0 (not likely) to 10 (very likely): 9.5

Let Freedom Sing! 2023

The July 4th celebration in Nashville proved once again to be a premier destination spot for both locals of Nashville and its visitors. Seventeen percent of attendees were locals, while 82.7% were visitors.

More highlights from the Nashville CVC’s Let Freedom Sing! survey results include the following:

  • First Time Attendees: 82%
  • Average length of stay: 3.9 nights
  • Average party size: 4 people
  • Accommodations: 77% chose hotels; 15% chose short-term home rentals
  • How the visitors arrived: Air Travel, 40%; Drive, 60%
  • No. 1 domestic feeder market: New York
  • Top six states visitors were from: New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia

Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th  presented by Dr Pepper is produced by Music City Inc., the foundation of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, for the city of Nashville.  This was the 20th annual celebration produced by Music City Inc. through the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and the 39th in the city.

Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th was presented by Dr Pepper and partners included Advance Financial, Amazon, Budweiser, Central BBQ, Crav’n Flavor, Dr Pepper Strawberries & Cream, Folds of Honor Tennessee, General Jackson Showboat, Jack Daniel’s, Kroger, Nashville International Airport, ORCA (Outdoor Recreation Company of America), Pure Kick, SoundWaves™ at Gaylord Opryland®, Tennessee Highway Safety Office: Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk and Wyler’s Light.

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The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and Visit Music City

The mission of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and Visit Music City is to maximize the economic contribution of the convention and tourism industry to the community by developing and marketing Nashville as a premier destination. Visit the NCVC’s website at and follow us on social media @VisitMusicCity.