Without transcendent classical music, Nashville's top cultural event would be a polka band performing a 58-minute "Yakety Sax" jam session instead of today's Groupon to the Nashville Symphony. For $30, you get one ticket to see Thibaudet Returns at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Concerts take place on Thursday, April 1, at 7 p.m. and April 2 and 3 at 8 p.m. All seating is in the $75 orchestra level.
Even though it opened in 2006, Schermerhorn Symphony Center looks like it's been a part of the landscape for centuries. That's because the center, which is named for Nashville Symphony's late maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn, took its design cues from famed European concert halls. Its classic appearance is enhanced by 30 soundproof windows, which allow natural sunlight or unnatural spaceship lights to stream in. A custom-built organ rings out through the hall, and a convertible seating design allows the hall to morph into a ballroom floor for cabaret shows or weddings.
Though the staff at Honeysuckle Hill Farm cultivates livestock and crops of seasonal produce, its other chief resource is outdoor adventure. Through their seasonal tours, farm staffers teach adults and children about farm operations, the basics of agriculture, and which fabrics scarecrows find itchy. They also give visitors a chance to work their way through labyrinthine corn mazes. At birthday parties, younger visitors can pet the resident animals, pan for gemstones at an artificial stream, and race each other in pedal-powered carts. Away from the fields, Association for Challenge Course Technology–certified guides and their guests soar down a one-mile zipline course designed and built to ACCT standards. The guides lead tours through the course’s three elevated towers, three canopy-level bridges stretched across Battle Creek, and eight ziplines, which they maintain daily to chase away loitering vigilantes. Along the way, guides showcase their knowledge of the creek’s history while pointing out local flora and fauna.
The Redneck Comedy Bus Tour delivers a two-hour dose of Southern-tinged humor aboard a refashioned camouflaged school bus. Decked out in their respective getups of denim overalls and fluorescent cake makeup, hosts Tater and Erlene corral their fearless chortle trippers at either the World Famous Nashville Palace (Mondays–Thursdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m.) or the Whiskey Bent Saloon (Mondays and Saturdays at 2 p.m.). Passengers learn about the haunts of Nashville's overabundant country stars and local yokels directly from the denizens themselves, who speak in their native hillbilly pidgin. Coolers the size of tackle boxes containing six-packs are welcome, and tourists are encouraged to bring their own canned alcohol, beef jerky, pork rinds, or vegan bubble gum. After proving proficiency on the subject of goo goos and moon pies, riders are deemed redneck certified and should possess a newfound ability to recite poems about NASCAR.
Established in 1855, the Tennessee State Fair's long history includes more than thrilling Midway rides and food on sticks; the festival also features a yearly theme around which events and exhibits center. This year, the fair's theme is "Let the Good Times Grow," an idea embodying the fair's fiscal growth and the locally-grown entertainments it houses. The Taste of Tennessee event, for instance, gathers chefs who craft native cuisines, local bands, and area craft brewers.
The grounds also showcase a range of entertaining shows, from beauty pageants and pig races to dogs performing gravity-defying tricks to catch frisbees. Plus, the Kenya Safari Acrobats return for the 7th year to show off their incredible agility. Should younger visitors feel inspired to step on stage themselves, they can enter the kids' ice cream eating contest; a winner's trophy goes to the kid whose mouth can shovel the most ice cream and whose brain can withstand the worst ice cream headache.
With the exception of four years during World War II, the Tennessee State Fair has kept the family-friendly party going ever since 1906. Classic fair foods such as cotton candy, corn dogs, and snow cones fuel visitors as they stop in on the prize-seeking animals, tap their toes to live music, and belt tunes at the karaoke showdown. While smaller kids ride the merry-go-round and explore the Tomb of Doom, their older siblings can get their thrills on rides with spine-tingling names such as the Mega Drop and the Fireball. And parents can learn all about Tennessee's small-time brewing operations and distilleries at local drink-making showcases.