Everything You Need to Know About the 2018 CMA Music Festival
The CMA Music Festival is a four-day, star-studded musical event that takes place in Nashville every year in June. Around downtown Nashville, multiple stages feature both country music legends and the genre's up-and-coming stars.
Who's playing CMA Fest 2018? When is it happening, and how can you watch even if you're not going? Here's a rundown of all the details.
When and Where Is the 2018 CMA Music Festival?
CMA Fest 2018 will take place in Nashville on June 7-10. In addition to the festival's big, nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium, the CMA Music Festival features performances on the Riverfront Stage, the Breakout Stage at Walk of Fame Park, the Forever Country Stage and more. The event also includes Fan Fair X at the Music City Center; artist Q&As, autograph signings and more are part of this portion of CMA Fest.
Additionally, throughout the week of the 2018 CMA Music Festival, numerous artists will host fan club and charity-focused events. Check out the FAQ section of the CMA Fest website and The Boot's full CMA Fest coverage for more information on events.
Who’s Performing at the 2018 CMA Music Festival?
The Country Music Association made its initial CMA Fest 2018 lineup announcement on March 21 in a tweet. Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Carly Pearce, Chris Stapleton, Lee Ann Womack are among the headliners that will be performing during nightly shows at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Each night of live music will begin with a performance of the National Anthem from a different artist: the Oak Ridge Boys, backed by the Marine Corps Band New Orleans, on Thursday (June 7), "Walmart Boy" Mason Ramsey on Friday (June 8), Jillian Jacqueline on Saturday (June 9) and Ray Stevens on Sunday (June 10).
Over on the Riverfront Stage, Lauren Alaina, Devin Dawson, Lanco, Maddie & Tae and others are set to perform, while Abby Anderson, the James Barker Band, Ashley McBryde, Steve Moakler are slated for shows on the Breakout Stage. Terri Clark, Lonestar, Lorrie Morgan and more are booked for the Forever Country Stage, which will spotlight artists from the 1980s, '90s and 2000s.
Also during CMA Fest 2018, the Broadway Stage at the Hard Rock Cafe will host Logan Brill, Faren Rachels, Noah Guthrie, Tegan Marie and more up-and-comers. The Nashville Acoustic Corner Stage, meanwhile, will feature performances from Craig Wayne Boyd, Sarah Darling, Lewis Brice, Parker McCay and Tara Thompson, among others.
Additionally, Ascend Amphitheater will host free shows on the nights of June 7, 8 and 9: Chase Rice will headline the June 7 performance, with Lindsay Ell, Craig Campbell, Granger Smith, Runaway June and more artists. Lee Brice will appear on June 8, sharing the stage with Maddie & Tae, Tyler Farr, Drake White and Clare Dunn. On June 9, Cole Swindell will headline, supported by Tegan Marie, Cale Dodds, Morgan Evans and Michael Ray. Each concert starts at 7PM.
In late May, the Country Music Association announced the addition of three new stages to the CMA Fest 2018 lineup: The Radio Disney Country Stage will feature performances from Maddie & Tae, RaeLynn, Jordan Davis and more, while the CMA Spotlight Stage will highlight up-and-coming artists including Dustin Collins, Lee Gantt and Glen Templeton. Major stars -- including Ashley McBryde, Lee Ann Womack, Luke Combs and Trisha Yearwood, among others -- will grace the HGTV Lodge Stage, too.
Over at Fan Fair X, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Kelsea Ballerini and Dustin Lynch will be "spotlight artists" on the CMA Close Up Stage. Each day, an event will highlight one of the artists and allow fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse into that artist's career.
Who else is playing the 2018 CMA Music Festival? Stay up to date on the scheduling page of the CMA Fest website.
What Other Events Are Happening During the 2018 CMA Music Festival?
In addition to all of the CMA-sanctioned events during CMA Fest, numerous artists host fan club parties and other festivities that are not included with CMA Fest admission. Cole Swindell's fan party is set for June 8 at 4PM, while Luke Bryan's Nut House party will be hosted at the Hutton Hotel that same day. Morgan Evans will host fans at 1PM on June 8 as well, while Smithfield have a fan party planned for 4:30PM on June 7 at the High Watt. A number of other artists will be hosting parties as well; Country Music Tattle Tale has an in-depth list available.
Additionally, Chris Stapleton will be hosting an exclusive pop-up shop in downtown Music City, during which he'll sell exclusive merchandise, including custom Louisville Slugger baseball bats, inside the George Jones museum, restaurant and bar, located at 128 2nd Ave. The pop-up shop will be open from 10AM until 6PM on June 7-10. And on June 8, RaeLynn will break a sweat for charity, hosting the second-annual Ride on the Row fundraiser. Set to take place at the Warner Nashville tent, the singer and a group of fans will work out for an hour, with proceeds from the $30 class tickets benefiting the RaeLynn Diabetes Fund; the event will kick off at 7AM.
Also during CMA Fest, Spotify will be on hand to promote its recently revamped Hot Country playlist with performances at Blake Shelton's soon-to-be-opened restaurant and venue, Ole Red; Michael Ray, Midland, Hunter Hayes, Lauren Alaina, Maddie & Tae and more will play there throughout the festival. The daily lineup for Spotify's Ole Red takeover is available on OleRed.com. Down the street, Big & Rich's John Rich will host four days of live music at his Redneck Riviera venue.
How Can I Attend the 2018 CMA Music Festival?
The outdoor daytime stages at the 2018 CMA Music Festival are free and open to the public, but Fan Fair X and the Nissan Stadium shows do require tickets; the Ascend Amphitheater shows are also free, but a $60 "Nash Pass" will allow you early entrance (read: will help you get closer to the stage). Tickets for CMA Fest 2018 are available now via the festival's website, at various price points.
Fan club and charity-focused events during CMA Fest have their own ticketing requirements.
Are There Security Changes for the 2018 CMA Music Festival?
Yes -- festivalgoers at this year's CMA Fest will be subject to new security measures, enacted in the aftermath of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in 2017. Fans will be required to stay further back from the stages, and will only be allowed to carry clear bags that are smaller than 12” x 12” x 6” or a "small clutch bag or wallet." Also new this year is a requirement that fans stay out of the photo lines at the front of the stage, according to Wide Open Country.
How Can I Watch What's Happening at the 2018 CMA Music Festival?
During CMA Fest 2018, The Boot will share photos, videos and all of the biggest news from the fest. Dylan Schneider, Ben Danaher, Abby Anderson and Emily Hackett will also be giving fans an inside look at what's happening at the fest when they take over The Boot's Instagram Stories throughout the four days as well.
For those who want to see even more from the event, later in the summer, ABC will air a TV special featuring footage from the fest's Nissan Stadium performances on Aug. 8 at 8PM ET. In 2017, Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini hosted the special show, and the duo will return to co-host again this year.
“Thomas and Kelsea are the embodiment of the summer fun that is CMA Fest, and we are so excited they’ll be back for year two,” Senior Vice President of Alternative Series and Specials & Late-Night Programming for ABC Entertainment Rob Mills says in a press release.
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