Chihuly at Cheekwood: Amazing Date Night Idea in Nashville

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Chihuly Nights 2020 Sapphire Star
Sapphire Star
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If you’re looking for an awesome date night or family fun idea, you need to visit Chihuly at Cheekwood Estates and Gardens in Nashville. Dale Chihuly is a well-known artist whose blown glass sculptures feature vibrant colors and are incredible to witness. At Chihuly Nights at Cheekwood, you’ll find 13 sculptures integrated into the numerous gardens throughout the estate plus several more inside the Mansion and Frist Learning Center.

It was a pleasure working with Cheekwood to share this incredible art experience with you. Big thanks to Caroline at Cheekwood for providing tickets so that I could write about this limited-time event.

Chihuly Nights 2020 Summer Sun Lee and Anna
Anna and me at the Summer Sun

Who is Dale Chihuly?

Dale Chihuly is an American-born artist who specializes in blown glass art. He was born in Washington state in 1941 and continues to lead a team of glassblowers who execute his distinctive designs to this day.

Mr. Chihuly studied interior design, sculpture, and ceramics in college, then studied abroad in Italy on a Fulbright scholarship and Tiffany Foundation grant. In Murano, an island in Venice, Dale worked at Venini Fabrica, a renowned glassblowing workshop.

Upon his return to the U.S. in 1969, Dale established the Rhode Island School of Design glassblowing program and founded the Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle. His first blown glass art installation was a group of clear glass bulbs that floated on Pilchuck Pond.

In 1976, Dale was in an automobile accident that blinded one of his eyes. From that point on, he relied upon assistant glassblowers to make his designs come to life. Today, you can find Chihuly’s art installations around the world in both temporary and permanent exhibits. And the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum remains one of the city’s most popular attractions.

Chihuly Nights 2020 Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds 2015
Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds 2015

What are Chihuly blown glass sculptures?

The Chihuly blown glass sculptures are contemporary works of art. These sculptures combine dazzling colors with the skills of artisan glassblowers. The installations are often intertwined with nature or featured as chandeliers in historic buildings. Chihuly draws inspiration from the world around him and creates works of art that capture the imagination in incredible ways.

These blown glass pieces of art come to life in many different forms. Among his collection, you’ll find baskets, cylinders, macchia, drawings, installations, and more. The creativity is breathtaking and no two Chihuly art exhibits are the same.

Chihuly Nights 2020 Red Reeds 2014
Red Reeds (2014) along the Ann & Monroe Carell Jr Family Sculpture Trail

Botanic Gardens of Cheekwood Estate

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens is one of the many fantastic outdoor venues in Nashville, Tennessee. It is located at 1200 Forrest Park Dr, Nashville, TN 37205, which is about 7 miles southwest of Downtown.

As you explore its 55 acres, you’ll find 12 distinct botanical gardens, a few smaller gardens, and numerous trails to explore. The gardens offer a variety of plants and water features that are beautiful to see. The 15 gardens and trails are:

  • Howe Garden
  • Sigourney Cheek Literary Garden
  • Martin Boxwood Gardens
  • Bradford Robertson Color Garden
  • Carell Dogwood Garden
  • Herb Study Garden
  • Blevins Japanese Garden
  • Wills Perennial Garden
  • Turner Seasons Garden
  • Burr Terrace Garden
  • Rose Study Garden
  • Robinson Family Water Garden
  • Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail
  • Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden
  • ADS Daffodil Display Garden
Chihuly at Cheekwood - Fiori Boat 2018
Fiori Boat 2018 next to the Cheekwood Mansion

During your visit, you’ll also find the Cheekwood Mansion, Frist Learning Center, Cafe 29, and the Botanic Hall. Additionally, when you’re having fun at the Honky Tonks on Broadway, head towards the river to find the Cheekwood’s Riverview Gardens and Art Installation at Riverfront Park.

Read: Is the Tennessee Get Out Pass worth it?

Cheekwood Estates Frist Learning Center - Chihuly Nights 2020 Polivitro Chandelier
Polivitro Chandelier inside the Frist Learning Center

We really enjoyed exploring the Cheekwood Manion to learn the history of the Cheekwood family, see examples of how they lived, and experience the Chihuly sculptures on display inside.

While waiting for it to get dark, Anna and I stopped at Cafe 29. We found the prices for sandwiches, beverages, and other goodies were actually very reasonable. Sandwiches and salads are around $10 and draft beers are $6. So, we ordered some gourmet beer-battered fries and a couple of local craft brews to enjoy while resting our feet and taking in the cool evening air.

Cheekwood Estates Cafe 29 Sidewinder beer battered fries
Sidewinder beer battered fries and craft brews from Cafe 29

Chihuly at Cheekwood

This is the 10th anniversary of the first Chihuly at Cheekwood large-scale art exhibit.

Spread throughout the estate are 13 different Chihuly blown glass installations to search for and discover. Due to coronavirus precautions, Cheekwood Estates is not handing out paper maps. Instead, you’ll use your QR code scanner to download the Chihuly Nights map below.

Cheekwood Estates and Garden map. Chihuly Nights 2020
Map of gardens and Chihuly Nights 2020 installations. Courtesy of Cheekwood Estates.

As we walked the Ann & Monroe Carnell Jr Family Sculpture Trail, we enjoyed the quiet winding walk through the trees. Along the walk was a mixture of Chihuly blown glass sculptures and permanent exhibits.

We even saw a deer that was about 10 feet from the walking path. After two years of living in Nashville, I’m still a total city boy at heart and get excited whenever I see wildlife up close.

Cheekwood Estates Sculpture Trail wild deer
A wild deer that was very close to the trail

When are Chihuly Nights?

Chihuly at Cheekwood is a temporary blown glass exhibit that runs from July 18, 2020, through January 10, 2021.

Chihuly Nights is open Thursday through Sunday nights from 5 pm to 10 pm.

Read: How to save over 50% with the Nashville Total Access Pass

 

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Inside Cheekwood Mansion

Cheekwood Mansion is a multi-story historic building that is frozen in time. As you explore the rooms and hallways, you’ll see rooms preserved just as the Cheekwood family would have used them. There are also displays highlighting news and collectibles from history.

Cheekwood Mansion - Leslie Cheek Jr’s study
Leslie Cheek Jr’s study

As you explore the Cheekwood Mansion, you’ll find several rooms dedicated to displaying Chihuly blown glass sculptures.

Chihuly at Cheekwood Macchia bowls
A variety of Macchia bowls

A magnificent chandelier that was custom-designed exclusively for this grand space inside Cheekwood Mansion.

Cheekwood Mansion - Chihuly at Cheekwood Golden Amber Persian Chandelier
Golden Amber Persian Chandelier (2019)

Coronavirus precautions at Cheekwood Estates

Due to coronavirus, all guests are required to wear masks while visiting Chihuly at Cheekwood. Because you are outdoors during your visit, you are allowed to remove your mask when you can maintain your social distance. Anna and I kept our masks on during our visit except when we snapped a few pictures and while eating at Cafe 29.

When you buy your tickets to enter the Mansion, you are assigned an entry time. This helps to minimize crowds and encourage social distancing. When you arrive, the staffers check your temperature before being allowed to explore the mansion. As you walk through the Cheekwood Manion, you must keep your mask on at all times.

Read: An Oasis in Los Angeles at the South Coast Botanic Garden

How much does admission to Chihuly Nights cost?

There are several price options for Chihuly at Cheekwood. Entrance to the gardens is the base price, with an option to upgrade to include admission to the mansion. Nighttime visits cost a few dollars more per person but are totally worth it to see the sculptures illuminated at night.

Cheekwood Estates members receive free admission to the gardens during the day and discounted admission at night. Seniors, students, and children receive discounts, and children ages 2 and under are free.

Tickets can be purchased online at Cheekwood.org or at the gates.

Gardens Only
Gardens and
Mansion
Day Night Day Night
Member Adult Free $13 Free $18
Member Youth Free $9 Free $14
Adult $19 $23 $24 $28
Senior (65+) $17 $23 $22 $28
Student (with ID) $15 $23 $20 $28
Youth (3-17) $12 $17 $17 $22
Ages 2 & Under Free Free Free Free

** Please note that there is a $1.25 service fee added to each ticket for processing.

Cheekwood Estates & Garden membership benefits

Membership is available starting at $65 per person or $90 per family. Click here to explore all of the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens membership options. Discounts for seniors, educators, military, and students are available. If you plan on visiting Cheekwood multiple times or would like to support its mission, becoming a member is a great choice.

As a member, you’ll receive unlimited free general admission and parking plus reciprocal admission to nearly 330 botanical gardens, arboreta, and conservatories nationwide. Plus, more than 60 museums in the Southeast also offer free admission to members.

Perks also include:

  • Invitations to member-only events and exhibition previews
  • Discounts for select classes, workshops, and special events
  • Priority registration for children’s camps
  • Discount at Cheekwood Gift Shop and Cafe 29
  • Invitation to special pop-up events
  • Exclusive access to discounts and gifts during Member Appreciation Week
  • Early member purchase period for special events

If membership isn’t right for you, you can purchase a membership gift certificate for family, friends, or business associates.

Annual events at Cheekwood Estates & Gardens

Chihuly at Cheekwood is not the only event that happens at Cheekwood Estates throughout the year. Some classes are free with admission or membership, while others require additional payment beyond your entrance fee.

Here is a sample of the events you may find at Cheekwood:

A variety of one time classes, like Basic Floral Photography, happen on a regular basis. Check the Cheekwood event calendar to see what is available before you visit.

Can I buy a Chihuly blown glass sculpture?

Yes and no. You cannot buy the sculptures that are spread throughout Cheekwood Estate.

However, don’t leave your credit card at home. There are several Chihuly blown glass sculptures available for sale inside the gift shop at the Cheekwood Mansion.

The pieces for sale during our visit ranged from $5,500 to $9,000. Who knows, maybe we’ll see one of these magnificent pieces on display in your home.

Cheekwood Mansion Gift Shop - Chihuly artwork for sale
Chihuly blown glass artwork for sale

The Bald Thoughts

At Chihuly at Cheekwood, you’ll find 17 installations of gorgeous Chihuly blown glass sculptures spread throughout the Cheekwood Estate. It is a perfect date night or family adventure in an outdoor setting. You can get out of the house, walk through the estate and gardens while admiring the beauty of the flowers, trees, and blown glass sculptures.

Best of all, admission is very affordable for a date night or day of family bonding. Chihuly at Cheekwood is only here for a limited time, so go online to buy your tickets before you miss out on this amazing experience.


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