Road Trip: A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland

For years, many people in this area have made 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.

Chris Houchens manages operations for The Amplifier and is the Online Director for the Daily News. He is also known in some circles as a marketing guru. Visit him online at www.ChrisHouchens.com.

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