Just a bit ago, as we were digging into why we love Lockeland Springs and Woodland Street so much, we realized how much of our spring and summer social lives in East Nashville are taken up by festivals.
There are a lot of reasons to love East Nashville — the beautiful historic homes, the tight-knit community — but if you’re the type of person who loves a festival, there are few better places to be.
As we’re making our spring and summer schedules, we wanted to share a few of our favorite annual East Side festivals, spanning from art and music to pie. This is far from all the fests you can take in on the East Side of the river, just a few of the ones we try to make sure we’re at every year, and that we think any Nashvillian would love.
East Nashville Beer Festival
Going into its eighth year in 2018, the East Nashville Beer Festival is but one of many sudsy celebrations held in Nashville throughout the year, but definitely one of our favorites. It’s a chance to try pretty much every Nashville craft brewery in one place, but goes well beyond, with creative brews from just about every corner of the country. They tap some of East Nashville’s best to round out the fest, too, with the folks from The Basement East wrangling live music and the Woodland Wine Merchant team heading up a tent full of import beer. The 2018 event is set for April 7 at East Park, and lot more info (and tickets) can be found at eastnashvillebeerfest.com.
Nashville Cocktail Festival
A relatively young player in the East Nashville festival game, going on five years in 2018, the Nashville Cocktail Festival’s earned a prominent place on our list — if you’re a cocktail lover, it’s a really fun opportunity to taste new concoctions and learn about cocktail culture’s history, present and future. It’s set for April 25 to 29, 2018, at the Pavilion East, and we wrote more about the 2018 Nashville Cocktail Festival here.
If the East Nashville Beer Festival is one-stop shopping for the Nashville craft beer scene, Yum!East is its complement for the East Nashville food scene — during the annual one-day event, you can try dishes from almost all of East Nashville’s best restaurants, cafes and artisans, from upscale eateries to small sweets shops. Your ticket gets you an almost overwhelming amount of sample options, plus an open bar and live music. Depending on the year, you might hit this in late May or early June — the 2018 event is set for Thursday, May 31 at The Pavilion East, and tickets are due to go on sale April 27. Lots more on the Yum!East Facebook page.
The Thirth of July
Among the most East Nashville of East Nashville events, The Thirth of July is a friendly block party-turned-full festival, held every year right ahead of Independence Day. A few Lockeland Springs blocks are blocked off, and a festive crew of neighbors takes in hours of live local music, food trucks and more. The Thirth is going on a 17-year East Nashville tradition now, and we hope it’s still part of our summer 17 years from now. We wrote a little about The Thirth of July in 2017, and you can keep up with news about the 2018 fest at thethirth.com.
Music City Hot Chicken Festival
The other Independence Day tradition in East Nashville: Heading out to East Park in the hot July 4 sun to overindulge in hot chicken at the Music City Hot Chicken Festival. It’s Nashville’s biggest annual celebration of our official food, and pretty much everybody in the hot chicken business comes out to share their spicy wares, with free samples going to the first 500 people in line. The 12th Annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival is July 4, 2018 at East Park, kicking off with a fire truck parade at 10:30 a.m. You can head to hot-chicken.com for more information (we wrote something about the Hot Chicken Festival in 2017 here, too).
East Nashville Farmers Market Pie Festival
It’s a smaller thing, but we’ve still come to look forward to and love the annual Pie Festival at the East Nashville Farmers Market, which’ll be on its fourth year in 2018. Talented local cooks share their best pie creations, and local food pros judge the best as we all sample the entries, then do our weekly farmers market shopping. It’s neighborly and fun, and delicious. You can expect it around mid-July, at Shelby Park. More at the East Nashville Farmers Market website.
Tomato Art Festival
Every year, come August, the Tomato Art Festival is East Nashville’s time to shine — tens of thousands of locals and visitors hit Five Points for two days of music, food, shopping, contests, and, of course, tomatoes. It started small back in 2004, with a summer art show at local gallery Art & Invention, celebrating the tomato. Since, it’s become a cultural phenomenon, and easily the biggest weekend of the year in East Nashville. The 15th annual fest is set for August 10 and 11, 2018, and there’s lots more at tomatoartfest.com. Before then, it’s worth bookmarking our Tomato Art Fest pro tips — we think they’re pretty useful.
Defy Film Festival
An excellent East Nashville addition for independent film buffs, the Defy Film Festival has been celebrating filmmakers and filmmaking for going on three years now, with features and shorts screened over two days, covering just about all genres imaginable. Learn more about this year’s event/keep up with announcements at defyfilmfestival.com.
Day of the Dead Tequila Festival
Halloween tends to be for the kids; the Day of the Dead Tequila Festival gives adults in East Nashville the chance to enjoy their own fall tradition, with tequila tastings, sugar skull face painting, food and more. And proceeds go to a great East Nashville cause: the Fannie Battle Day Home for Children. Keep up with the 2018 schedule at nashvilletequilafestival.com.
Have any must-hit East Nashville festivals to add? We’re always open to new opportunities for East Side entertainment.