|by A. Christine Maxfield||Music and Dancing, Pop Culture and Travel, Tennessee, Nashville, Family Travel||1|
Heading to Nashville, Tenn., this year? You may notice a couple of abnormally large guitars beckoning you through the entrance of the Grand Ole Opry House—guitars reaching 20 feet high and made up of 3,000 pounds of steel and aluminum, to be exact. This new memorial honors the country music venue's 85th birthday, a bash that will draw participation from such classic legends as Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride to relative newcomers like Carrie Underwood and Dierks Bentley. Leading up to the grand finale on Oct. 8th and 9th, venues all around the city will be featuring additional concerts and special gallery exhibits throughout the summer.
Grand Ole Opry House: In a strange turn of events last month, the Opry House was hit with the worst Middle Tennessee floods in more than 100 years, with water rising nearly four feet above the stage. While renovations are frantically underway, various area locations—the Ryman Auditorium, Allen Arena at Lipscomb University, and War Memorial Auditorium—are housing the Grand Ole Opry and Opry Country Classics shows until they return to their digs in October. Don't be surprised if you spot celebrities about town as they accept the duties of "guest announcer" from now until the party in Oct. (2804 Opryland Dr., 800/733-6779, ticket prices vary)
Grand Ole Opry Museum: Due to reopen the first week of October and located just steps away from the Opry House, three new exhibits will allow a behind-the-scenes peek into Opry secrets, including images captured by the official show photographers Chris Hollo and Les Leverett, artifacts from young country performers rapidly rising to stardom, and memorabilia from the late Opry icon Porter Wagoner. (Grand Ole Opry Plaza, 2802 Opryland Dr., 800/733-6779, $5)
Acuff Theatre: The venue for the grand finale Opry Birthday Concert is guaranteed to be full of surprises yet to be announced, and will bring out every who's who of country music entertainment. If you can only attend one event this year, this would be the one that you shouldn't miss. (2804 Opryland Dr., 800/733-6779, tickets and tour packages from $95)