Remarkably, the venerable Nashville institution has continued operating through the pandemic even after shows stopped allowing in-house audiences on March 14. For the past 29 weeks, artists have performed on the vaunted stage to an empty venue, but kept the Opry’s record of more than 4,940 consecutive Saturday night broadcasts going with the shows beaming over Circle All Access YouTube, Twitter and Facebook channels as well as Circle TV , SiriusXM, WSM-AM and other outlets.
As part of the 95th anniversary celebration, an in-venue audience will be allowed to attend the shows starting Oct. 3, as Nashville mayor John Cooper announced via a press conference today (Sept. 24). Attendance is capped at 500 (compared with the Opry House’s normal 4,400-person capacity). The audience will be culled from patrons who already held tickets for that night and for subsequent Saturdays throughout the month.
“With gratitude to the artists who have visited the Opry since March, staff members and partners who have ensured the Opry went on every Saturday, and a worldwide audience for tuning in over the past six months, we are so excited as we plan to welcome fans back to the Opry House,” said Dan Rogers, Opry vice president and executive producer. “So many loyal fans make plans early to be a part of our birthday weekend every year, and I am especially excited that many of those devoted familiar faces will be in the first in-house audience since late last winter. Of course we will only be truly happy when we can return to capacity audiences and full Opry shows that are known around the world.”
The Opry will follow guidelines developed by the Nashville Public Health Department and Vanderbilt Health that include social distancing, mandatory mask wearing and no food or beverage service.
The lineup for the rest of the month-long 95th anniversary celebration will be announced shortly.