NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Monday marks the unofficial start to the CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. Work is underway to get ready for one of the city's biggest weeks of the year.
There will be a few changes visitors can look forward to during the 2015 edition of the festival.
There will be more music. Last year 450 artists performed, this year that number will increase to 500.
The Country Music Association has worked to ensure there is an abundance of free entertainment for local country fans to enjoy during the festival.
"We have 11 stages throughout music fest, the LP Field is the only where you need a four day ticket," said CMA CEO Sarah Trahern. "Don't stay away from downtown just because you don't have a ticket for LP. Music every day starts at 10 o'clock and runs to roughly 5 o'clock every day."
Another change this year, there will not be a kick-off parade down Broadway. Instead the CMA will have an all-day concert on the river front Wednesday that starts at 10:15 a.m. and runs through 7:00 p.m.
Many up-and-coming acts will play the stage.
As the festival becomes increasingly popular, more and more people are coming to Nashville. This year the CMA sold out of tickets much earlier than in years past.
"Tickets for this year's show have been sold out since much earlier in the year, frankly, before we even booked one guest at LP. I really think that speaks to the strength of both the country music format today, but also the strength that music fest means, what we're always providing a great value proposition, and great artists for the fans," Trahern explained.
Metro Police will be very visible during the festival. They will not only work on traffic control, they will also work with visitors to avoid small thefts during the festival.
More than 80,000 visitors are expected downtown each day of the festival.
"We'll have officers out talking to people, especially in parking lots, telling them to park smart, not leave valuable visible in their cars, make sure they lock their doors," said Sgt. John Bourque.
The CMA Music Festival officially kicks off Thursday, and runs through Sunday night.