Dog Friendly Winter Festivals – No Scrooges Allowed!

Dog Friendly Winter Festivals – No Scrooges Allowed!

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Music City Winterfest and Dickens of a Christmas are two fun-filled and dog-friendly winter festivals in Nashville.

UPDATE: Music City Winterfest is on hiatus in 2019 to make way for the GLOW Nashville Experience. GLOW is not a dog-friendly event. We’re hoping to see Winterfest make a return in 2020!!

Originally published on December 5, 2017

This coming weekend will give you ample opportunities to keep Christmas Merry and Bright. You have not one, but two major holiday festivals to attend (plus an “almost famous” Christmas parade.) How to decide what to do?!?

If you want your pooch to be part of the festivities, rest assured there are activities at both Music City Winterfest and Dickens of a Christmas planned for your dog. Both festivals are major events in middle Tennessee. Here’s a quick look at both events and what you can expect so you can make a decision that fits best for your dog. And you.

Now in its 3rd year, Music City Winterfest is happening this Saturday, Dec. 9th from 10AM – 4PM. Held at Centennial Park in Nashville, it’s fun for the whole family with a holiday market, food and drink, activities for the kids, live music and entertainment and… they’ve even got a Pop Up Dog Park and professional pet portraits being offered this year! Looking through the list revealed quite a few pet related vendors that will be in attendance, so you can finish some holiday shopping for your four-legged friend. So much fun to support local businesses.

Woman and her dog in front of the sign at Music City Winterfest in Nashville

Lucky for you, Dickens of a Christmas is running for two days, both Saturday Dec.9th from 10AM-5PM and Sunday Dec. 10th from 11AM-4PM in historic downtown Franklin. This is the largest outdoor Christmas festival in Middle Tennessee and sees upwards of 50,000 visitors, with the streets brimming full of Victorian characters from Charles Dickens’ stories, dancers, musicians, activities for all, carriage rides, vendors with holiday crafts, food (how about a sugarplum?) photo opportunities galore and new this year, an ice-skating rink. Plus, it snows.

Couple with their dog in front of a Christmas tree and toy soldier at dog friendly  Dickens of A Christmas Festival in Franklin, Tennessee

(Annnnd…if you have time to squeeze it in, Leiper’s Fork Christmas Parade {Wacky and Wonderful} will be at 2PM on Saturday, Dec. 9 in Franklin, TN.)

So – how to decide which festival to enjoy with your dog? Here’s a rundown on what to expect.

It all depends on what your dog likes and how comfortable they are in crowds.

Music City Winterfest has some great advantages. Centennial Park offers lots of wide-open spaces so the festival is not as jam-packed with visitors. Lots of space to move around in and even to set up lawn chairs to listen to the musical performers.

Dog sitting on the lawn and listening to music at dog friendly Music City Winterfest in Nashville

You can easily take a break from the celebration and walk your dog away from the crowds – especially advantageous for potty breaks! Lots of parking available around the event grounds, with a parking garage across the street and of course, if your dog needs to run off some energy, Centennial Dog Park is right there!

Drawbacks can be weather; if it has rained recently, you may be dealing with a soggy, muddy lawn.

Dickens of a Christmas, however, is the ultimate in an old-fashioned holiday celebration. How can you argue with the Victorian costumed carolers and Father Christmas roaming the streets of a quaint town? Plus Franklin is one of the most dog-friendly cities that you’ll find.

Victorian carolers at Dickens of a Christmas in downtown Franklin, Tennessee

Along with the uniqueness of the festival comes people. Lots and lots of people. You’ll be walking shoulder to shoulder with crowds down the street…and your dog will be dealing up close and personal with strollers and wagons that may run over paws, little children, other dogs and the occasional person dangling a lit cigarette at eye level. I have been mortally terrified for more than one toddler and dog during our visits to this festival! Don’t be that person that smokes in a crowd. Just don’t.

Make sure your dog takes care of potty business before you arrive as you’ll be on the main street with not much opportunity to find a patch of grass.

And if you decide to attend, the best advice I can give is to arrive early or come late. I’m not kidding even a little bit. Parking is challenging to say the least, so you want to claim a spot at one of the free parking garages or on-street as early as possible.

It’s definitely possible to do both festivals in one weekend – but you will not be considered a Grinch if you consider leaving your Max home while you experience Dickens of a Christmas – especially if you feel they will be stressed from the crowd level. Or you can arrive when the festival opens and take in as much as possible before the crowds build – then head out for some fun at the park.

Follow your dog’s lead in deciding what works best for you. All that matters is that you both have a good time celebrating the holidays together and nobody is thinking “Bah, humbug!”

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