How to Make the Most of Nashville Meets London

Our mate Laura has never made it to Nashville Meets London because she’s always managed to be over in actual Nashville when the free country music weekend has been on. It’s a fair excuse we suppose, but this year she’ll finally be gracing us with her presence. She’s been privy to our flurries of WhatsApp messages and Instagram stories during the outdoor festival, but we’re not sure they’ve done the event justice. So, as NML returns for it’s third year, here is a little list of what to bring for Laura and any other first-timers.

A picnic blanket…

stars n stripes picnic set

This event has a relaxed vibe in the daytime (with more dancing as the sun / beer goes down). Since there’s just one stage and screens for a good view throughout the whole park, there’s much less pressure to dart about than at a lot of festivals so we’ve usually found a spot to call home for the duration of the day. Of course you don’t have to bring your own blanket; the festival takes place in a comfy grass square and in previous years the Canary Wharf events team have also provided free mats to sit on. (Note that chairs aren’t allowed unless for special circumstances.)

An open mind…

Nashville Meets London stagetimesRegardless of which acts on the line-up you’re most excited to hear, we’d recommend coming early and giving lesser known acts a listen. Each year, we’ve been stunned by an incredible talent we hadn’t previously heard live; from Angaleena Presley’s biting lyrics to Ashley Campbell’s nimble fingers and Yola Carter’s soul-penetrating voice. To get you primed, there’s an official Spotify playlist featuring this year’s artists here.

Food and drink…

We’ll be bringing empty cool bags and koozies then picking up supplies once we get to Canary Wharf station. In the warren of a shopping mall there’s a Marks and Spencer, Tesco and – right opposite the entrance for the festival site – a big Waitrose supermarket. While you shouldn’t bring glass onto the site, you can bring your own drinks (cans, cartons, hipflasks…). To save the planet we’re packing reuseable picnic accessories like CJ’s folding plastic wine glasses and metal ‘forever’ straws. But the most impressive picnic accessory we spotted in previous years was an inflatable paddling pool full of ice and beers! We’ll also be treating ourselves to at least one meal from the food vendors around the square, be that the permanent restaurants or food stalls who pop up just for the event like Tico’s Brazilian inspired hot dogs this year.

Non-country-fan friends…

…if you have any left. This weekend is a lot less “yeehaw” than C2C, so makes a great gateway festival to give a taste of the scene you’re into. The diverse range of acts, including gentler folk and alt-country, cater to a wide spectrum of music tastes and dispel outdated country music stereotypes. Because it’s free, as DJ Baylen Leonard’s puts it “you can drag friends who think they don’t like country music and say come hangout enjoy the party.” Read about our NCF Dan’s dramatic conversion in the festival’s first year here.

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Weather protection…

…but never umbrellas. For this abnormally hot year that mean’s sunscreen, caps and straw cowboy hats, although the surrounding skyscrapers can make the square quite shady. When the weather has been more typically British, rather than have umbrellas blocking anyone’s view, the organisers have passed out sexy free ponchos. But if you need to temporarily escape the elements, there are restaurants dotted around park and, just between us, Wahaca’s upstairs terrace bar has cocktails, tacos and a great vantage point to still see and hear the stage.

Nashville Meets London ponchos

Something to sign…

…or pickup some albums and merch on site. If you’re autograph inclined, the compact scale of the festival means lots of opportunity for meet and greets after sets. But do give the artists a chance to enjoy other acts – after all, they’re music fans too.

Finally, for the tube journey

…bring some water, maybe a fan and definitely deodorant. Or instead of the London Underground, act like you’re Chris Janson and have just won the lottery and turn up by boat.

Nashville Meets London takes place in Canada Square Park (E14 5AH) on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th July 2018, following a sold out Thames boat pre-party on Friday 27th. If you spot us please do say hello or, if you can’t make it, follow us on Instagram for live highlights.

CJ & Judi

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