For the second year in a row, Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett are hosting the ABC special "CMA Fest," which airs this year on Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The three-hour special will have highlights from the 2018 CMA Fest, which takes place June 7-10 at several venues in Nashville. The Country Music Association presents the annual event, which features performances, meet-and-greets and various activities for fans of country music. Now in its 47th year, CMA Fest (formerly known as Fan Fair) uses its proceeds to benefit music education through the CMA Foundation.Ticket purchases are required for many of the shows, but the daytime, outdoor CMA Fest shows and a few other activities are free. (Click here for a complete schedule.)
Here are the top attractions at this year's CMA Fest:
CMA Fest's biggest stage is where today's A-list country artists perform every night at the event. Among the artists set to perform at Nissan Stadium are Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge, Charles Esten and Friends, Florida Georgia Line, Dustin Lynch, Old Dominion, Jake Owen, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, Charley Pride, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Stapleton, Cole Swindell, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Lee Ann Womack and Brett Young.
Chevy Riverfront Stage
Free performances are held at Riverfront Park (10 a.m.-5:15 p.m. daily), featuring a mixture of new and established artists. This year, they include Lauren Alaina, Cam, Gavin DeGraw, Hunter Hayes, LANCO, Chris Lane, LOCASH, Maddie & Tae, Scotty McCreery, Pardi, Pearce, Cassadee Pope and RaeLynn.
Chevy Breakout Stage
Held at Walk of Fame Park (10:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m. daily), this stage has free performances from artists seeking a major breakthrough to a larger audience. This year, the performers include Jimmie Allen, Brooke Eden, Trent Harmon, Sundance Head and Radio Romance.
Budweiser Forever Country Stage
Heritage/classic country artists have their own space here, with free performances held behind Ascend Amphitheater (11 a.m.-4:45 p.m. daily). Artists scheduled to appear include Keith Anderson, the Bellamy Brothers, Terri Clark, Ty Herndon, Honky Tonkin’ with Tracy Lawrence (and special guests), Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Lonestar, Lorrie Morgan and Darryl Worley.
Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage
Different companies present free artist showcases at 7 p.m. at Ascend Amphitheater. On June 7, BBR Music Group presents Chase Bryant, Craig Campbell, Lindsay Ell, Everette, Chase Rice, Runaway June and Granger Smith. On June 8, Red Light Management presents Clare Dunn, Tyler Farr, Maddie & Tae and Drake White and the Big Fire. On June 9, Warner Music Nashville presents Swindell, Cale Dodds, Morgan Evans, Michael Ray and Tegan Marie.
Nashville Acoustic Corner Stage
Featuring performances from emerging artists, all shows are free and are held during the day, beginning at 11 a.m., at Bridgestone Arena's NCVC Visitor Center. There will be an ASCAP showcase on June 7 and a SESAC showcase on June 8.
Maui Jim Broadway Stage
Another place to see free daytime shows from emerging artists, this stage is open daily at 10:45 a.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe. There will be a BMI showcase on June 7 from 2:45-6 p.m.
Hosted by Great American Country's Suzanne Alexander, the HGTV Lodge at Fan Alley has intimate performances from a wide range of country artists, many of whom are also doing separate performances on larger CMA Fest stages. This year, the HGTV Lodge artists appearances will include Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack, Lauren Alaina, Jon Pardi, LANCO, Walker Hayes, Cassadee Pope, Maddie & Tae, LOCASH and Cam. There will be special appearances by HGTV's “Property Brothers” stars Jonathan and Drew Scott.
Xfinity Fan Fair X
Held at Music City Center, X Finity Fan Fair X one of the most popular attractions at CMA Fest because it's where fans can do meet-and-greets with artists. There are other activities too.
The CMA Close Up Stage presents a Q&A by a different artist every day. Scheduled to appear are Dierks Bentley (June 7), Luke Bryan (June 8), Dustin Lynch (June 9) and Kelsea Ballerini (June 10).
The CMA Spotlight Stage is for emerging artists. Those scheduled to perform include 2Steel Girls, Joe Denim, Southern Halo and Karen Waldrup.
At the Radio Disney Stage, Tegan Marie and Kalie Shorr will perform and share hosting duties with actress/singer Hayley Orrantia (co-star of "The Goldbergs")and Radio Disney Country personality Betsy Spina. Other artists set to perform on the Radio Disney Stage include Jimmie Allen, Cam, CB30, Russell Dickerson, Trent Harmon, Walker Hayes, LANCO, Maddie & Tae, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, Savvy & Mandy and Rachel Wammack.
New this year, CMA will host the Music Streaming Lounge at Xfinity Fan Fair X. On June 7, the lounge will be transformed into an iHeartRadio recording studio where fans can interview and get photos with artists for a special iHeartRadio Fan Fair X station. On June 8, Spotify will debut a digital experience where fans can find their “Country Music Match” and create playlists with artists. On June 9, Amazon Music (which recently launched the Country Heat playlist) will have a space that allows guests to interact with songs while using Alexa, as well as meet a select number of artists.