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Behind the Scenes: Opry Country Christmas

Article by Kellie Benz

Photography by Chris Hollo ©Grand Ole Opry

Originally published in Brentwood Lifestyle

The Grand Ole Opry has been called the home of country music, and as the saying goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays. In 2021, Opry Country Christmas debuted for its inaugural season, bringing beloved holiday songs and country artists together to celebrate a new Christmas tradition in Music City. 

This year, Opry Country Christmas is back and even better than before with double the shows for the 2022 season, each brimming with beloved, Nashville-influenced stories and songs filled with holiday spirit. 

“In the past, there hadn’t been Christmas-related Opry programming,” says Dan Rogers, executive producer of the Grand Ole Opry. “Of course, the closer we get to Christmas day, the more likely you are going to hear holiday favorites on stage. This is the first time this iconic show has created its own holiday performance.”

In true Opry fashion, each Opry Country Christmas show is filled with varying styles of music spanning generations, plus storytelling and comedy. Hosted by Grammy-award-winning trio the Gatlin Brothers, each show features at least one guest artist and a single spotlight artist to conclude the show. 

“This is where Music City and the holidays truly converge,” Dan says. “Not only is it the best of the Opry with a holiday flair in that you still hear these different styles of music, you also hear holiday songs of the Old West, you hear traditional favorites, both secular and Christmas hymns. There is more often than not a touch of bluegrass, and there's, you know, the rocking side of Christmas.”

Planning the Opry Country Christmas show is no small feat. For the 2022 lineup, planning began immediately after the 2021 show wrapped due to its rousing success. Prior to the announcement this summer that the show would be returning, several acts had already been booked. 

“I think we all looked at each other and said, ‘Wow, we feel really good about [the show],’” Dan shares. “People were interested from the get-go. It was just really interactive, lively, smiles on people's faces, multigenerational…all those things you want in a holiday performance. We really started planning the minute we finished last year.”

One of the most interesting aspects of the show stems from the city’s robust country music history, as many holiday favorites have unique (and unknown) ties to Nashville. What are they? The stories will be thoughtfully revealed throughout the show, so guests must visit to find out! 

“We hope people leave with a great appreciation for the music, but also for Nashville's contributions to the holidays,” Dan adds. “Most importantly, it’s one of the few places on Earth where you can see Santa play an electric guitar.”

Beginning November 27 and running periodically through December 22, this year’s lineup includes headliners Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, Chris Janson, Trace Adkins and Mandy Barnett, plus appearances from renowned Opry members. Audience members can expect a 2-hour, two-act show, with beverages available to purchase onsite. 

“To me, the Opry Country Christmas show is the quintessential way you can celebrate the holidays in Nashville,” says Dan. “It speaks to what our city and our region hold dear and our collective history. The Opry hopefully makes everybody proud of their hometown, and I hope that this show does the same.” 

To purchase Country Christmas tickets, visit Opry.com.

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