Visiting Opryland Hotel at Christmas

by Sami

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If you’re planning on visiting Opryland hotel at Christmastime, listen up. My family has a holiday tradition of visiting Gaylord Opryland in Nashville every Christmas. Come discover the magic of A Country Christmas with me!

Visiting Opryland Hotel at Christmas

Visiting Opryland Hotel at Christmas

Yes, Opryland Hotel is open. And while you can normally visit Opryland without staying there, especially to look at the famous Opryland Christmas lights, new restrictions limit access on weekends this holiday season.

But don’t worry, I’m sharing my best tips for visiting Opryland hotel. Whether you’re planning a family Christmas vacation or just want to visit for the day, you’ll find everything you need to know below. (And I promise to come back and update it regularly!

Opryland Christmas Discount Codes

Get 20% off ICE tickets with code VALUE23. Last year, you could save 50% off tickets on select dates with code SOCIAL50. You can also find updated ICE! Discount Codes by clicking on the link.

You can save up to 30% off room accommodations, plus tickets to ICE! with code 1GC. Check Opryland availability now.

Stay Longer & Save More

Save up to 20% off Christmas packages when you stay at least 3 nights with code D3Q.

My Top Tips for Visiting Opryland Hotel

With over 17 hours of activities (if you dared trying to accomplish everything back to back!), I recommend spending at least one night at Opryland hotel. Even though we live in Nashville, I prefer to spend two nights at Gaylord Opryland to make it feel like a true staycation.

If you’re just looking for tips for visiting Opryland for the day, I can help you there as well.

Keep in mind, you must buy tickets online in advance for all ticketed events this year. That includes ice skating, tubing, ice bumper cars and more. I actually appreciate this change because not only does it cut down on lines, it will actually give you a specific time to arrive for some experiences.

The I Love Christmas Movies experience and Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf will not return this year, but I have the details on ICE featuring The Polar Express.

Stay tuned for my Polar Express ICE! Preview…

Keep reading for my suggestions on what to do, where to park, and how to follow local safety guidelines when visiting Opryland…

Opryland Tree Lighting

The famous Gaylord Opryland tree lighting ceremony took place on November 9, 2023 at 5:30 PM. This is the true kickoff to the Christmas season for my family.

It’s free to attend and features performers from A Country Christmas. Get more information and watch past years’ tree lighting ceremonies.

Don’t worry if you missed it. You can watch the outdoor lights go on each night. Head to the Magnolia Portico for caroling at 4:55p and the tree lights come on at 5pm.

Opryland Hotel is Open

As I mentioned above, Opryland Hotel is still open. Most restaurants and bars inside of Opryland are now open. You may find limited operating hours at others.

Everything we’ve come to love about this resort remains, including the beautiful atriums, complete with foliage and Christmas decorations.

If you are just visiting for the day, I recommend either visiting during the week and staying for dinner so you can have your parking validated (at certain sit-down restaurants, like Old Hickory Steakhouse). If you must visit on the weekends, consider coming earlier in the day. This way you will avoid crowds.

Parking at Gaylord Opryland Hotel

There are several parking options at Gaylord Opryland Hotel:

  1. Valet Parking at Opryland is extremely limited right now. Overnight valet parking is $40, inclusive of tax. You can get your parking validated if you visit the Relache Spa or one of the sit-down restaurants in the resort.
  2. Self Parking at Opryland costs $33, inclusive of tax. It’s located between the Cascades lobby and the outdoor section of SoundWaves. If you are staying overnight, I prefer using valet because of the proximity to check-in. Plus, I have another option for parking that’s free…
  3. Yes, there is Free Parking at Gaylord Opryland Hotel! Technically, it’s part of the Opry Mills parking lot, which is just adjacent to hotel property. As a point of reference, you can park just outside the walkway to the Gaylord Opryland Events Center, which puts you at the far end of the parking lot across from the Regal movie theater.
  4. The Grand Ole Opry recently added a paid parking lot just between their building and Opryland (adjacent to the above parking lot I described). I could not find the current cost on their website, but if it’s up to me, I prefer the Opry Mills parking for free.

One note, while the free parking option puts you VERY close to Pinetop and the outdoor Christmas activities, you will have to walk almost a mile to enter the resort through the Cascades lobby (if you’re not an overnight guest). If you are staying overnight, you can enter the hotel through the Delta Atrium portico.

Free Things to do at Opryland Hotel this Christmas

There are still so many free things to do at Opryland Hotel, especially during the holidays:

  • Delta Fountain show
  • Outdoor Nativity
  • Outdoor Christmas lights (over 3 million!)
  • 2 Poinsettia Trees
    • Gaylord Opryland’s Christmas on Ice Skating Show
    • Stage performances nightly
    • Reindeer encounters
    • Firepits
  • Christmas movies
  • Letters to Santa
  • Strolling entertainment throughout the hotel
    • Dickens’ carolers
    • Christmas Characters
Opryland Pinetop map Christmas 2020
Welcome to PINETOP at Gaylord Opryland!

Opryland Christmas Lights & Outdoor Nativity (Magnolia Lobby)

The iconic Opryland Christmas lights you’ve likely seen in commercials are the ones outside the Magnolia Lobby. They can actually be seen from the highway as well, but are no match for driving through Opryland itself.

Watch my 20-second drive-by video of the beautiful white lights and outdoor nativity:

Delta Riverboat Ride

The Delta Riverboat ride is still happening at Opryland and is even more magical during Christmas.

Opryland Waters Edge Stax with Christmas Trees from Delta Flatboat ride.

Located on the ground floor of the Delta Atrium, the guided flatboat ride takes about 15-20 minutes. Not only will you learn interesting facts about the property, guests get a view you can’t experience from any other vantage point.

As you travel on the Delta flatboat, you will sail by Water’s Edge, which houses two especially fun holiday offerings at Opryland: Build-A-Bear Workshop and the Gingerbread Bakery.

Gingerbread Bakery at Water’s Edge

You will find unique holiday treats at the Gingerbread Bakery you won’t find anywhere else in Opryland during Christmastime, including:

  • Peppermint bark bags
  • Decorated gingerbread men
  • Mini frosted gingerbread men bags
  • Snickerdoodle cookie sandwiches
  • Snowflake decorated cookies
  • Decorated Christmas hat cookie
  • Eggnog whoopie pie
  • Christmas Funfetti cupcake

Gaylord Opryland Resort Access Restrictions

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen restrictions on who could visit Opryland at Christmas.

On November 26, 2021, Opryland released the following update and safety protocols:

  • Beginning at 2 PM every Friday, Saturday & Sunday, resort access is restricted to registered overnight guests and event ticketholders with reservations
  • Advance event reservations are required
  • Resort access will not be restricted Monday through Thursday at this time

For comparison, this is the official statement about resort access restrictions from 2020:

“To ensure social distancing, beginning at 4pm CST on Fridays and 1pm CST Saturdays & 3pm CST Sundays, 1) access to enter the hotel will be available only to registered overnight guests and paid indoor event ticketholders; and 2) access to enter the Gaylord Opryland Events Center and Pinetop area will be available only to paid ticketholders for events located in those areas and to registered overnight guests.

We welcome non-overnight guests and non-event ticketholders to visit the hotel and resort property Monday through Thursday. Additional dates/times may be restricted without advance notice as resort capacity is reached.”

Thankfully, they are still allowing guests to visit the Opryland lights and holiday sights without having to stay at the hotel. But as someone who does stay at the resort regularly, it’s nice to know they are prioritizing their guests’ overall experience and ensuring there is not overcrowding.

marriott opryland travel with confidence signage at SoundWaves

You will also see their “Travel with Confidence” signage when walking around the resort and even inside of SoundWaves as well.

Gaylord Opryland Christmas 2023

Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort in 2023 is sure to be magical. We enjoyed our trip last year just as much as (if not more than) previous Christmas vacations to Opryland. We still experienced all the same holiday merriment we’ve come to expect at this iconic Nashville holiday hotel.

If you have any questions about visiting Opryland hotel at Christmas, please leave it in the comments below. If I don’t have a good answer, I can point you to an Opryland team member who will!

You can also visit Gaylord Opryland’s FAQ page before your visit.

Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf™️

Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf™️ opened on Nov. 19, 2021 at the Opryland events center. It only ran at Gaylord Opryland for one season. It truly feels like you’re walking through the iconic Christmas movie!

Read all about our experience and watch my Mission Save Christmas Walk-Through video.

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Debbie Richard December 21, 2022 - 12:19 am

Tonight (December 20, 2022) we went to see the lights at Opryland Hotel. We had checked ahead of time and knew we needed to not go on the weekend. So we loaded up three of our grandchildren, two daughters, and the two of us.
When we arrived we were told non ticket holders/guest would not be allowed access until after 8:30 PM.
We waited the extra hour. We spent 2.5 hours inside, enjoying the lights.
It was unfortunate we could not go earlier. Everyone except my husband and I are sleeping all the way home. Both daughters have to work tomorrow.
The lights are beautiful. We have gone every year but one since our oldest grandchild was born 18 years ago. It is a tradition she looks forward to every year – and so do we.
Hopefully it is one we will be able to continue.

Patricia December 17, 2022 - 7:30 am

I have a Chihuahua dog and was wondering if he can come with us? He will be in stroller.

Sami December 26, 2022 - 10:51 am

I apologize for the delayed response as I was out of town. But I do believe dogs are welcome if they are service animals or in a stroller.

Brandie Ford December 16, 2022 - 9:14 am

We have tickets to ICE today 12/16 at 2pm. Do those tickets allow us access to the see the lights and festivities in the hotel? Also, do any restaurants validate parking aside from The Old Hickory Steakhouse? Thanks for the great article!

Sami December 26, 2022 - 10:50 am

You are so welcome! And I apologize I was not able to respond in a timely manner as I was out of town.
Hopefully you discovered that yes, your tickets do allow you to experience the lights and festivities inside the hotel the day of your ticket.
As far as I’ve heard for 2022, Old Hickory Steakhouse is the only restaurant validating parking for this year.

Fernando Sanchez December 11, 2022 - 2:02 pm

So we have to have a ticket to enter and see the Christmas lights and walk around in the hotel on the weekends? Or can we still enter just to walk around and see the lights on the weekends?

Sami December 12, 2022 - 6:05 pm

Officially, to go inside the hotel on the weekends, you have to be an overnight guest or visiting the spa or one of the sit-down restaurants. Sometimes you can do it without, but you will need a hotel key or ticket to enter through any of the doors besides the official entrances (Cascades Lobby or Magnolia Portico).

Mia December 8, 2022 - 12:40 pm

Hi! We’ve bought tickets for ICE! On 12/10/22 at 4:30pm. Will we be allowed into the hotel to see the lights before / after our reservation time?

Sami December 9, 2022 - 8:45 am

Yes, you are allowed to enjoy the lights and the resort any time on the day of your ticket. Have fun!

Kim December 8, 2022 - 5:50 am

This article is fantastic! I am heading to the Gaylord Opryland hotel today. I am resistant to rent a car because of the high cost of parking. Am I permitted to leave my car over night at the Opry Mills?
Thank you very much. Happy Holidays

Sami December 8, 2022 - 11:58 am

You are so welcome! I’m glad you found it helpful! You’re going to have a wonderful experience. I don’t blame you for being hesitant to rent a car because of the cost of parking. As far as I know, you can leave a car overnight in the Opry Mills lot, I would just take the regular precautions when leaving a vehicle parked outside. Otherwise, everything is very walkable between Opry Mills and Opryland Resort (& even the Grand Ole Opry).

Alisha Turner December 7, 2022 - 12:59 pm

Hi! My family and I plan to visit the hotel this weekend to see the lights and possibly ice-skating. If we buy tickets online for ice-skating, will we be allowed inside the hotel to see the lights? What all are we allowed access to?

Sami December 7, 2022 - 5:18 pm

Thank you for visiting, Alisha! A skating ticket allows admission to the skating attraction plus access onto the hotel campus to see interior décor and exterior lights on the date of the skating ticket.

Linda December 7, 2022 - 11:29 am

If one comes on weekends before the designated times, are you allowed to stay and finish your tour? Or do you have to leave before those designated times?

Sami December 7, 2022 - 5:19 pm

Hi Linda! Thanks for stopping by. Guests without event tickets or overnight reservations may arrive prior to 2pm on restricted dates and stay into the evening to enjoy the resort décor and lights.

Sheila December 5, 2022 - 2:35 pm

just to be sure, we can enjoy the inside lights during the week for free?
thanks so much for a great article.

Sami December 7, 2022 - 3:45 pm

Yes, the inside lights are always free to enjoy! There are no stipulations for inside or outside Monday – Thursday during the holidays.

Mark November 22, 2022 - 9:34 am

Great article! I plan on visiting the resort on 12/16/22 (just to visit, not staying overnight). I have questions. Do they do the tree lighting ceremony every night? I have a dinner reservation at Old Hickory Steakhouse. Do they validate parking? Assuming they do, how does that work with valet parking? Thank you for any help you can offer.

Sami November 22, 2022 - 5:01 pm

Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words! I am checking with a resort representative to make sure I have the most accurate responses for this holiday season (I know they did lightings nightly in the past, but I have not heard that they’re doing that this year…but no, they don’t do a full “ceremony” nightly). I also know they do validate parking if you eat at Old Hickory Steakhouse (so yummy!), but I’m going to see if that applies to valet as well. Stay tuned…

Sami November 22, 2022 - 5:36 pm

Here is the latest answer from a resort representative:

There is not a ceremony, but rather nightly caroling at 4:55p and the tree lights come on at 5pm.

Valet parking is validated at Old Hickory Steakhouse only.

Kim November 20, 2022 - 1:11 pm

We are staying 3 nights. We are doing other things while in town what is the best and cheapest way to come and go with parking. We are able to walk a mile

Sami November 20, 2022 - 10:11 pm

The best option is to park in the neighboring Opry Mills parking lot. It’s free to park there and if you park in the lot at the furthest point from the movie theater, you’ll be just outside the Opryland Events Center, which is where ICE! and all the outdoor activities (Pinetop) are located. Enjoy!

Wes August 27, 2022 - 2:06 pm

Do the Christmas lights and other attractions continue after Christmas? We’d like to visit 12/26 to 12/30/2022.

Sami August 28, 2022 - 3:24 pm

Yes! All the lights and activities will continue through January 1.

Cathy Radzinski December 17, 2020 - 4:47 am

Thank you for this article! So, if we are doing outdoor activities (tubing) we will not be able to enter the hotel? Are there picnic/seating areas outside?

Sami December 17, 2020 - 12:16 pm

You are so welcome! As far as I understand, yes, that is correct; only overnight guests can have access to the hotel after the times I mentioned Fri-Sun. If you look at the photo of the map of PINETOP, you will find some benches situated in a socially-distanced manner. There are some around firepits, some outside of the ice skating rink and more by the outdoor stage, so there are definitely places to sit and gather with your group. Let me know if I can help with any other questions!

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