I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
November 14, 2018
There’s no lack of things to do this Christmas in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County! Here’s your complete guide to the 2018 holiday season.
This post was written in partnership with Visit Rutherford County.
You want to enjoy Christmas this year without having to brave the massive Nashville crowds. Savor the season without a stampede of shoppers. I’ve got an easy solution for you: Rutherford County. Just minutes away from Nashville, Murfreesboro and its surrounding towns offer all the Christmas revelry you could possibly want, minus the bachelorette parties and $30 parking spots.
Want to go ice skating outside? Buy handmade gifts from local artisans? Catch a festive Christmas musical or symphony performance? Enjoy a cozy holiday parade with your kids? It’s all here, friends, and with plenty of parking spots, smaller crowds, lower prices, and a charming smaller-town feel, it’s definitely worth driving a few extra minutes in order to retain your seasonal sanity.
Here’s a complete list of all my favorite things happening in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County this Christmas season. Enjoy! And feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments.
This holiday event has quickly become a Murfreesboro must-do during the winter season. An ice skating rink is open seven days a week at Fountains at Gateway from November 17th through January 21st and plenty of special events are planned to make the skating experience even sweeter. You can skate to live holiday music, meet the Frozen sisters, take pictures with Santa, or come to an ugly Christmas sweater-themed skating night. Check out the event calendar for all the details.
Afterward, warm up with hot chocolate at The Soda Bar, have a meal, and get some shopping done! There are some wonderful boutiques and restaurants at Fountains at Gateway and you’ll definitely want to make time to check them out while you’re here.
From 9-4, you can find gift ideas from 30 local artisans and vendors at The Grove at Williamson Place. This is definitely the place to find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts for the ones you love. Tickets are $5 and benefit the local ministry Stepping Stones Safe Haven, which supports homeless women and children.
Visiting this Murfreesboro Christmas tree farm is an annual tradition for families across Middle Tennessee. Fell your own tree (Country Cove provides the saw) or choose from a selection of pre-cut trees and festive decorations at the farm’s wreath and Christmas shops. Don’t leave without a cup of hot chocolate or cider and a hayride around the farm. The farm is open weekends from November 17th until December 16th. Check out the Country Cove website for more information.
Murfreesboro’s outdoor shopping center The Avenue is all decked out for the Christmas season and on Sunday, November 18 from 4-6, shoppers are invited to The Avenue’s Delight the Lights Holiday Celebration, an outdoor event at The Avenue’s Central Park near Bath & Body Works. There’ll be free face painting, live entertainment, stiltwalkers, holiday jugglers, visits with Santa, and special giveaways including the chance to win a $250 shopping spree. It’s a great way to keep the kids happy and get a little advance Christmas shopping done.
Be there at the magical moment the Town of Smyrna turns on its Christmas lights! This event will take place at the Smyrna Event Center from 6-8 pm. Expect musical guests, hot chocolate and cookies, and a visit from Santa Claus himself.
Here’s another chance to buy unique gifts from local crafters and artisans! On Nov. 24th from 10 am until 6 pm and Nov. 25th from 11 am until 6 pm, shop from multiple craft vendors and local food trucks. November 24th is also Small Business Saturday – What better place to spend it than at a local craft fair?
The Middle Tennessee Choral Society’s Sounds of Christmas Concert will include music from composers Handel and Mendelssohn. The Choral Society will combine with the MTSU Schola Cantorum and the First United Methodist Church choir for this special concert. The show starts at 7:30pm at Murfreesboro’s First United Methodist Church. Tickets are $10-$15 dollars and are available on the Middle Tennessee Choral Society website.
This show runs November 30th through December 16th and promises to provide some serious holiday cheer. It’s rated G and perfect for kids of all ages! Head to The Center for the Arts website to buy tickets.
I absolutely love this charming home decor shop inside an 1860s home in downtown Murfreesboro, and I rarely come to town without stopping inside to see what’s for sale. What better time for a visit than the holidays? At Quinn’s, you’ll find locally made products, home goods, gifts, clothing, and men’s, women’s baby and pet items. This would definitely be one of my first stops for the perfect Christmas present.
This is a perfect holiday season event for the entire family. Better yet, admission is free! Stroll around historic Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro and enjoy hayrides, a cake walk, hot apple cider, handmade crafts from local vendors, photos with Santa and more. The event runs from 10am – 3pm on December 1st.
Special Christmas-themed tours are offered at the Sam Davis Home throughout the month of December. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Sam Davis is the young Confederate soldier who famously died rather than giving up information to the Union. He’s buried here and the tour and museum make for a fun visit any time of year.
This is the Marketplace’s 14th year, so you KNOW it must be good! More than 100 merchants will be at Miller Coliseum from 9am to 4pm on December 1st, selling home decor, clothing, and seasonal gifts. Hosted by the Junior League, 100% of the proceeds from the Hollyday Marketplace are invested into local programs and services that improve the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of the Rutherford County community. Tickets are $10 at the door or $7 in advance from Eventbrite, Mill’s Family Pharmacy, Mimi’s Boutique, Donato’s Pizza & Reeves-Sain Drugstore.
This event is on my holiday bucket list! From 4 – 8pm, visit some of Murfreesboro’s beautiful historic homes and buildings, all decorated for the holiday season. Tickets can be purchased at any home on the tour, and the cost of the ticket also includes a Holiday Marketplace at Oaklands Mansion’s Maney Hall, a live nativity, and access to food trucks like Baker’s Dozen Cookie Cabin, Cousins Maine Lobster, and Something Southern.
Historic buildings on this year’s tour:
• Oaklands Mansion & Cottage, 900 North Maney Avenue
• Holiday Marketplace at Oaklands Visitors Center, 901 North Maney Avenue
• Mr. Corey Williams, 450 Roberts Street
• Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Bell- Big Holly, 718 North Maney Avenue
• Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Bell- Big Holly’s Little House, 700 North Maney Avenue
• Mr. & Mrs. Rhea Cole, 619 North Maney Avenue
• Mr. & Mrs. Richard Ventiegham, 603 North Maney Avenue
• Mr. & Mrs. Daren Chambley, 525 North Maney Avenue
• Dreamingincolor, 504 North Maney Avenue
• Ransom School House, 717 North Academy Street
Advance tickets are $15 on the Oaklands Mansion website until November 29th. After that, tickets can be purchased on the day of the event. Admission is $20.00 per adult at the door, $10.00 for students and children ages 6-12, free for ages 5 and under.
There’s nothing that gets me in the Christmas spirit quite like a cozy small town Christmas parade, and this one definitely fits the bill! The parade starts at 6pm at Veterans Memorial Park, ends at City Hall, and will include a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served at City Hall after the parade while the La Vergne High School Choraliers perform holiday songs. B&B Family Fireworks will also host a free fireworks show for the community once the parade is over.
Line up along Lowry Street at 2 pm on December 2nd to see floats, bands, classic cars, dancers and Santa Claus himself as they all travel northbound on Lowry Street toward Sam Ridley Parkway. This year’s theme is “Songs of the Season.” Bring a donation of non-perishable foods for Smyrna’s Nourish Food Bank if you feel inclined — One of the floats will be accepting donations.
I’m really psyched about this Gingerbread House Workshop — Pay just $8 dollars for a medium-sized gingerbread house or $10 for a large and decorate it with royal icing, candies, and treats — then leave the cleanup to someone else for a change! We make a gingerbread house at home each year and the cleanup is no joke, people! The workshop takes place from 5:30-7:30pm. Register in advance through Community Pass.
I absolutely adore Murfreesboro’s historic downtown square, so you can bet this particular tree lighting ceremony is gonna be GOOD. Listen to Christmas music, ooh and ahh over beautiful window displays, keep a lookout for a special appearance from Santa & Mrs. Claus, and witness the lighting of the official Rutherford County Christmas Tree. Events start at 6pm.
If you haven’t been to one of the programs at Stones River National Battlefield, you owe it to yourself to make the trip. On December 8th, park rangers and volunteers will gather at Tour Stop #2 to show visitors how the December 7, 1864 Battle of the Cedars impacted the final major Civil War campaign in middle Tennessee.
11 AM – Walking the Battle of the Cedars – A park ranger will lead a short walk along the Wilkinson Pike and describe the battle that raged there 154 years ago.
1 PM – Artillery Opens the Fight – Watch a Union cannon fire while a ranger tells the story of the artillery duel that began the Battle of the Cedars.
2 PM – Reminiscing in Blue and Gray – Listen to two soldiers as they share their experiences during the Battle of the Cedars. The program will include a musket firing demonstration.
3 PM – The Last Shots at Murfreesboro – A Confederate artillery demonstration will mark the final shots fired during the Battle of the Cedars.
This event is free! It’s a great opportunity to do something a little different this holiday season and learn more about our nation’s history in the process.
Smyrna is my favorite Middle Tennessee secret — It has a quaint and cozy downtown, my favorite B&B in Tennessee, some great restaurants, and although it’s close to both Nashville and Murfreesboro, it has a wonderful small-town feel. So I know this Christmas celebration is going to be a good one. On December 8th from 4 – 8pm, locals will gather on historic Front Street in downtown Smyrna for free (!!) photos with Santa, carriage rides, food trucks, Mini Polar Express train rides, a Christmas market, s’mores, hot chooclate, and hot cider. Sounds like fun to me!
For 38 years now, members of Southeast Baptist Church have transformed their building into the village of Bethlehem as it might have appeared the morning after the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago. Thousands of visitors come from miles around to see Roman soldiers, prisoners, tailors, basket weavers, shop merchants, census-takers, and live animals in this walk-through reenactment. Admission is free! Bethlehem Marketplace is open from 12 – 5pm on December 8th and 9th.
We absolutely love this family fun center with bowling, bumper cars, an arcade, and an indoor foam dart arena, and I don’t know how you can resist a visit if bowling and cookies are free AND Santa’s going to be there. That’s exactly what’s happening on December 8th from 12-2. Sounds like a great time to me!
The theme of this year’s parade is “A Christmas Story.” The parade starts at 2pm near the Middle Tennessee Boulevard / East Main Street intersection. Floats will head west towards the Rutherford County Square. The parade will end on West Main Street at Walnut Street, just past the courthouse.
I’m always looking for ways to avoid the lines and outrageous photo package prices of MALL SANTA, and this looks like my opportunity. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will both make appearances at the courthouse every Saturday in December before Christmas from 12 – 4pm. Bring your own camera for an absolutely free photo of Santa with your child. Alternatively, you can visit Santa at the courthouse on December 14th or December 21st from 6 – 8pm and let Shacklett’s Photography take a professional photo of your child with Santa Claus. Either way, it sure beats the mall!
This is the orchestra’s most popular concert of the year! The theme this season is “Christmas at the Movies.” It’s happening at Murfreesboro’s First United Methodist Church and will also feature the MSO Choir. Get your tickets at the MSO website.
What better place for a Christmas party than the local pool? Moms and dads are welcome to get some shopping done on December 14th from 6 – 9pm while kids ages 7-13 enjoy water-based Christmas activities, have dinner and dessert, and make a keepsake ornament.
Meet Santa at the awesome SOAC between 5:30 and 7:30pm for cookies, s’mores, and a photo op with the kids. Tickets for this event are $5 each and preregistration is required.
This two-day market at the Middle TN Expo Center features more than 90 handmade vendors and artisans! Photos with Santa will take place from 10 – 1 both days; Cinderella will make a special appearance on Saturday and Elsa will be visiting on Sunday. Hours are 10am – 4pm both days.
From 12:45 – 3pm on December 16th, kids can create their own decorative plaque at Board & Brush Creative Studio inside Fountains at Gateway. Pizza will be provided and parents can either stay with their child or drop them off. The cost is $35 per child and you can register for the event on the Board & Brush website.
Board & Brush is also a fantastic place to make a very personal gift for someone you love this Christmas. I’d be thrilled to get one of these plaques for my home. Sign up for a workshop alone or with a friend or family member and create something awesome with the help of the Board & Brush staff.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!