Red, Ripe, and Radiant: Your Guide to Nashville’s Tomato Art Festival 2023
If there’s one event out there that truly embodies Nashville’s charmingly unique spirit, it has to be the Tomato Art Festival. This annual festivity, which pays homage to this vibrant and versatile fruit — yes, it’s technically a fruit, not a vegetable — promises a delightful blend of art, music, food, and community spirit that’ll leave you coming back for more.
Happening in the heart of East Nashville’s Five Points, the Tomato Art Festival is the city’s most artistic summer event. Initiated in 2004 to mark the tomato season and support neighborhood artists, the festival has since evolved into a several-day event that attracts both locals and visitors alike, all of whom come together to enjoy the uniqueness of this quirky event.
Wondering about the best way to enjoy this festival? We’ve got you covered. From when it’s happening to what you can expect on the itinerary and insider tips on how to make the most of your tomato-themed adventure, let’s take a closer look at everything that this one-of-a-kind festival has to offer.
The When and Where
Mark your calendars, tomato enthusiasts! This year’s Tomato Art Festival 2023 is happening on August 11th and 12th. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the beloved event will transform East Nashville’s Five Points into an art-infused, tomato-themed wonderland.
Free to attend, with a few official ticketed events, the festival offers an incredible opportunity for everyone to engage in the community spirit and enjoy a vast array of tomato-themed activities.
Nestled in the heart of the city, the historic Five Points area will spring to life with vibrant decorations, pop-up art galleries, food stalls, and music stages. The streets, traditionally bustling with local shops and eateries, will buzz even louder with throngs of excited festival-goers eager to participate in the festivities.
The Tomato Art Festival 2023 kicks off early in the morning, and the party continues well into the night. So, whether you’re an early bird looking to make the most of the day or a night owl excited about the electrifying evening performances, there’s plenty of time to dive into.
A Brief History
The Tomato Art Festival first took place in 2004 by Meg and Bret MacFadyen, owners of East Nashville’s Art and Invention Gallery. The couple saw the tomato as a unifying symbol that could connect the diverse cultures of East Nashville and decided to launch an art show in its honor.
The response was so overwhelming that they decided to turn it into an annual event.
From there, the festival continued to grow, and they enlisted the help of Good Neighbor Festivals in 2010 to manage the expanding activities. In 2019, the festival was officially handed over to Good Neighbor Festivals, which continued to uphold its spirit while introducing new, fun elements.
Over the years, the Tomato Art Festival has received various accolades and has consistently been voted a “Best Festival” in the Nashville Scene Reader’s Polls from 2007 to 2020. Today, it brings together over 60,000 people each year — remaining a beloved tradition that celebrates community, creativity, and the unifying power of the tomato.
Tomato Art Festival 2023: The Itinerary
Ready to plunge into a world of tomato-inspired creativity, music, food, and more? Here’s what you can look forward to.
Kick-off Parade and Concert
The festival gets the party started on Friday, August 11th, with a parade like no other. This procession of vibrant floats, eccentric costumes, and enthusiastic community members sets the tone for the festivities to follow.
At the end of the day, expect a community concert showcasing local bands, offering a taste of Nashville’s dynamic music scene.
Art and Tomatoes, Unite!
Saturday, August 12th, serves up the heart of the Tomato Art Festival.
This is when Nashville’s streets come alive with:
- Over 200 art and craft vendors showcasing their tomato-inspired creations
- Local food vendors to tempt you with inventive, tomato-infused dishes
- Live music and other types of entertainment across multiple stages
- Wacky contests, like the “Faux-mato” for kids and the “Tomato Haiku” competition
Other Highlights Not to Miss
While every moment of the Tomato Art Festival 2023 promises joy, these are some of our favorite events that are sure to bring an extra dash of tomato-red fun:
- The “Tomato King and Queen” Contest: A royal recognition of the best tomato-themed costumes.
- The Bloody Mary Competition: A contest where local bars and restaurants go head-to-head, aiming to concoct the tastiest Bloody Mary.
- Tomato Art Show: Hosted at the Art & Invention Gallery, the art show is an homage to tomato-themed art and an absolute must-see.
Essential Tips for Attendees
Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned attendee, the Tomato Art Festival 2023 is a unique adventure waiting to be experienced.
From what to wear, when to arrive, what to carry, and where to park, here are some insider guidelines to make your festival experience as smooth and enjoyable as a well-ripened tomato:
- Costumes Encouraged: The Tomato Art Festival is about embracing life’s fun and quirky side, so feel free to express yourself with a unique, tomato-themed outfit. It could be as simple as a red t-shirt or as extravagant as a full tomato costume — just have fun with it!
- Arrive Early: The festival is a popular event and can get crowded quickly, especially on Saturdays. Arriving early will give you the best choice of parking and the first pick of the unique, tomato-themed art and craft items.
- Pack Essentials: Be prepared for a full day outdoors! Sunscreen, a hat, water, snacks, and a portable phone charger can all come in handy. Also, make sure you bring some cash. While some vendors may accept cards, not all of them do — plus, cash-only lines often move faster.
- Plan Your Parking: Public transportation or ride-share services are recommended to avoid parking difficulties. If you do choose to drive, be prepared for limited parking, and respect the neighborhood by only parking in designated areas.
- Stay Hydrated: August in Nashville can be hot, so remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. There will be water stations around the festival, but bringing a refillable water bottle is also a good idea.
- Explore the Area: Don’t forget to take some time to explore East Nashville’s Five Points area! The neighborhood is full of great local shops, restaurants, and bars that are well worth a visit.
- Enjoy the Experience: Most importantly, relax and have fun! The Tomato Art Festival is all about celebrating creativity, community, and, of course, tomatoes. Enjoy the music, the food, the art, and the uniquely wonderful atmosphere of this beloved Nashville tradition.
Wrapping up the Festivities
Tomato Art Festival 2023 is an invitation for you to relish in Nashville’s eccentric charm, painting your summer with unforgettable hues of creativity, camaraderie, and, of course, tomatoes!
So, mark the dates, prepare your best tomato-themed outfit, and get ready to join the local community for an event that’s both authentically Nashville and undeniably unique.
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