There’s nothing quite like New Year’s Eve in Nashville, with free live shows, energetic people and music as far as the ear can hear. Music City has a way of making many occasions special and ringing in the New Year is no exception.

Though a natural introvert on New Year’s, I decided that while living as a Nashville resident, I needed to brave the crowds of people that form in downtown Nashville on this festive night at least once to experience a classic Music City New Year’s Eve – and it did not disappoint.

It’s no secret that music is abound here is Nashville, but just one of the many luxuries one finds while residing in this wonderful city is the access to superstar performers you can’t get anywhere else. Past New Years Eve headliners for the big show on Broadway include Kings of Leon, Chris Stapleton, Gavin DeGraw, Lady Antebellum and many more, and country fans struck gold for the 2016 affair with one of the genre’s top acts, Keith Urban.

While guests typically line the streets and sidewalks of Broadway every year for the festivities, the city made a sound decision and moved the exciting show just down the road to Bicentennial Park, which served as a perfect location. Food trucks, concession stands and beer tents lined the pathways of the park, offering all sorts of goodies to New Year’s Eve guests, making the experience that much more festive.

Keith Urban performs to a packed crowd at Nashville’s Bicentennial Park on New Years Eve. PHOTO COURTESY OF KEITH URBAN (YOUTUBE)

And Urban couldn’t have been a better choice to ring in the new year, seeing as thousands of patrons gathered on the lawn of Bicentennial Park to hear the superstar perform some of his biggest hits and keep the crowd entertained with his impressive vocals and equally notable guitar playing skills. A highlight of the show came when he surprised the crowd with a medley of hits by artists who passed away in 2016, with actress and wife Nicole Kidman joining him on stage, dancing to the famous tunes while fans sang along to classics like “Purple Rain” by the late Prince.

But it’s not a true New Year’s in Nashville without the signature neon music note that drops at midnight to ring in the new year, a special spin on the famous tradition. Urban, Kidman, and other stars from the night including Charles Esten of “Nashville,” radio host Storme Warren and the guys from A Thousand Horses, who all came out on stage to help count down as the music note dropped and cheered along with the rest of us as 2017 officially began.

But the fun didn’t stop there. Fans continued to stay past the midnight hour, dancing in the mud and the rain as Urban got right back to the music after the celebratory countdown, entertaining concert-goers with recent hits like “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Somewhere in My Car” and the Sam Hunt-penned “Cop Car.”

In spite of the daunting crowds, it’s clear why so many are drawn to the heart of the city to celebrate the new year, diving in on the fun with equally excited attendees. And only in Nashville can you attend a free show from one of the biggest acts in country music, who plays well past the typical normal concert time. Whether you experience it once or go every year, New Year’s in Nashville is a special occasion that clearly offers plenty of amazing music and memories for years to come.