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A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland

It’s a holiday tradition for many people in this area to head down I-65 for a day of Christmas shopping and fun in Nashville. For many, the day is capped by a visit to Gaylord Opryland for their Christmas light displays. And while that’s an enjoyable few hours, there’s more than enough going on at the mega-resort to make a full weekend getaway.

This is the 28th year for “A Country Christmas”. While perennial favorites like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes and Louise Mandrell’s Christmas Dinner return this year, there’s lots of other things going on throughout the entire holiday season from November 18 to January 3.

New this year is Holly Jolly Town Square, a step back to a nostalgic 1950s town square, complete with all the shops from main street, a holiday kids’ train, live entertainment and more. You can check people off your gift list by stopping by the Treasures for the Holidays craft and gift show which runs from Nov 18 to Dec 18. The craft show is a free event that features more than 40 merchants from across the country.

This Christmas is the kickoff of a long-term alliance between Gaylord Hotels and DreamWorks Animation. All four Gaylord hotels, including Opryland, now feature the DreamWorks Experience. Characters from such films as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar are now featured in interactive experiences that will continue even after Christmas is over.

However, the DreamWorks Experience does take a holiday turn from now to January with events such as ShrekFeast character meals, character meet and greets, Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating, Holiday Shrektacular – a street party with characters, music and dancing, and a DreamWorks themed Scavenger Hunt.

My family has enjoyed previous years’ ice displays from Charlie Brown and the Grinch. This year’s ICE! continues the connection to TV specials while bringing in the DreamWorks Experience with ‘Merry Madagascar’. The vividly colorful ice displays will depict scenes from the TV holiday special that featured Santa and his reindeer crash-landing on the island of Madagascar and being assisted by the animals from the movie.

While you’re staying busy with all these festivities and more at Gaylord Opryland, don’t forget to slow down and enjoy over 2 million Christmas lights across the property. And take a long pause at their impressive outdoor Nativity display to remember why this is a special time of year.

For more information about this year’s events at Gaylord Opryland, visit www.ChristmasatGaylordOpryland.com.

DISCLAIMER: Gaylord Opryland provided a room at the inn (Christmas joke!) for two nights and tickets for my family to attend many of these events. We were amazed and delighted at the level of service and hospitality that the Gaylord staff provided. A version of this review was printed and published in the Amplifier in Bowling Green, Ky.

called it

Yesterday, in my post about the media and the Nashville floods, I suggested that maybe the lack of national media attention was due to the lag between the tuned-in minority  and the traditional media.

Turns out I was right. Today (Tuesday) after the pinnacle of the event (late Sat through Mon a.m.), Nashville has popped up on the national radar, taking equal staging with the arrest of the would-be Times Square bomber.

nashville cnn flood

It’s been suggested that the Nashville flood is not a national story because it doesn’t effect anyone outside of Middle TN.

Think about this:

How would the national media react if Hollywood was hit with a disaster (earthquake, flood, or locusts!) and disrupted the movie industry? A major portion of the U.S. music industry (and not just country) resides in Nashville.

Or what if Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Gardens were flooded? Today in Nashville, an NFL stadium and an NHL rink are underwater.

What if the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas was going to be shutdown for the next few months affecting national conferences, tradeshows, and meetings? The largest non-casino hotel in the world and the largest hotel in the United States outside Las Vegas is now shutdown indefinitely .

And these are just the three biggest examples. Nashville is an integral part of the U.S.

Nashville now provides a new twist on an old joke:
What do you get when you play a country song backwards? The water recedes. (original joke)
And speaking of jokes. Them poor Tennessee cows. They taste better.

UPDATE: Newsweek thinks I’m right as does CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

ICE and Rockettes at Opryland in Nashville

For years, many people in this area have made the short trip down to Nashville to enjoy the lights at the Opryland Hotel. For lots of those people, the holiday tradition may stretch back to the days of the Christmas in the Park events before the theme park was razed. But if you’re just going for the lights, you’re missing some of the entertainment that the mega-complex offers. On Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I had the opportunity to experience two events in “A Country Christmas”.

The first was ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz. This exhibit had previously featured the Grinch story from Dr. Seuss and this is the inaugural year for the Charlie Brown version. ICE! is impressive. You walk through familiar scenes from the perennial Christmas TV special that have been carved from over 2 million pounds of colored ice. And at about the halfway point, there are several ice slides to play on. And there’s a very pretty crystal ice version of the Nativity at the end.

Obviously, you would expect something called ICE! to be cold, but you have no idea how cold until you are in the Gaslight Theater. In order to keep the ice from melting, they keep the temperature at 9 degrees. The length of the display is exactly right. I was ready to exit and warm up when it was over. They provide a warm hooded parka when you enter, but I suggest you also bring your gloves and hat as well.

We also enjoyed the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes at the Opry House. I’ve never been a Broadway showtune kind of guy, but this is a very good performance for everyone. Santa serves as a sort of emcee through 11 exciting and diverse scenes ranging from a very clever stuffed animal version of the Nutcracker to a crisis at the North Pole.

The Rockettes do what they do best. They dance. You can’t help but be impressed by their talent especially in the precision they demonstrate during the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers and their unique dance interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas. The two hour show ends with a very moving and heartfelt Living Nativity with extravagant costumes and actual live camels, sheep, and other animals.

Other events at A Country Christmas include Louise Mandrell’s ‘Joy to the World’ Christmas Dinner & Show as well as a cruise on the General Jackson showboat. And don’t forget to look at the lights. Most of the shows run until the end of December. And if you can go during the week, there’s a slight discount in ticket prices. For information and tickets, call 1-888-999-OPRY or visit www.ChristmasatGaylordOpryland.com.

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DISCLAIMER: Gaylord Resorts provided free tickets to me and my family to attend these two events. This review was also posted and printed in the Amplifier in Bowling Green, Ky.