I read a zinger in Nashville’s own weekly magazine The Scene not long after I moved here that I can still recall, but only the last bit: “…these people love downtown Franklin and still have the California plates on their cars.” Erm, guilty, as charged. (Or at least I was then.) I wasn’t quite as stung as the writer had intended me to be, nor did I feel any shame in being a total cliche by falling head over heels with downtown Franklin. Here’s just one of the many reasons why: the Dickens of a Christmas street festival, which will be taking place this weekend.
The whole event is free to the public (good luck finding parking; there are little spots here and there if you know where to look. I, for one, am not generally as frugal as some but when it comes to paying for parking… it makes my blood boil. I simply refuse. I will do anything to avoid paying for parking. It just rankles my soul. There’s no other way to put it.) Saturday the festival will be open 10am to 5pm and from 12pm to 5pm Sunday. Sunday holds the distinction of being the occasion of the “Town Sing,” when everyone gathers around the roundabout at around 4:30. Sheet music will be passed around, and candles can be purchased for a buck. Both days, the streets of Historic Downtown Franklin are quite a scene to wander (apparently I was quite remiss to omit the Historical part from Downtown Franklin when I typed it previously. Yes, capital H. And don’t you forget it). Mingling with the crowds who meander from stall to stall are throngs of costumed actors. Dancers and musicians often surprise the distracted couples shuffling hand-in-hand nearby by bursting into song or dance numbers. If you search, you can find Ebenezer Scrooge, the entire Cratchit family, and enough ghosts to satisfy your Ghost Adventures fantasies for at least a few days. You might even have an encounter with Fagin’s pick-pocket posse. Father and Mother Christmas stroll benevolently up and down Main Street and, whether you’re young or old, it’s simply not possible to keep a smile off your face when you see them.
The street will be lined with stalls filled with the works of local artisans. You can participate in making arts and crafts, take in the performing artists, and take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage (it’s not a sleigh, kids, but it’ll have to do) for a mere $2. Who can resist that, huh? Not I! (The previous sentence is certain to strike fear into Reb’s unsuspecting heart.) Ah, I’ll make it up to him by buying him a freshly made cider doughnut, still warm and rolled in cinnamon sugar. (On the second thought, make it a dozen. I, like Si Robertson of Duck Dynasty, can take down a whole passel of warm doughnuts.)
The whole Victorian spectacle is not to be missed, and yes, it’s exactly the sort of thing that made this California girl even more certain that Tennessee was a magical place; blessed with more than its fair share of antebellum charm and sprightly Christmas traditions.
If You Go
For the full roster of performers and events listed by day, click on the link below.