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May 25, 2024

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Dressing Downton at Cheekwood

Fancy frocks from a popular PBS show plus more family fun this summer. BY NOAH DAY for "Summer in the City"

Take a sartorial step into history at Cheekwood this summer through Dressing Downton. Running through Sunday, Sept. 10, the exhibit walks you through a time of pristine culture and aristocratic wealth. You get to see 36 award-winning official period costumes worn in the hit PBS TV series Downtown Abbey.

The exhibit comes to Cheekwood at an interesting time coinciding with the estate’s recent unveiling of a long restoration process. The mansion now looks like how it may have when the Cheek family was living there in the 1920s, complete with artifacts, furniture, draperies and books in many of the rooms.

The exhibit detail and beauty of the aristocratic artifacts are captivating, and the culture comes to life. Dressing Downton is set in the early 20th century. The exhibit follows the events that uprooted British society on the eve of World War I ushering in a new way of life through the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age. Along with the costumes, there are a few interactive sides to the exhibit like a display dumbwaiter and servant bells.

While Dressing Downton comes with your Cheekwood admission ($20 adults, $13 ages 3 – 17), tickets to get into the exhibit are on a time-specific format, so plan ahead.

The exhibit is a diverse attraction that’s a great change of pace for experiencing history in a fun and engaging way. 

Dressing Downton is best suited for older kids, but all ages can certainly enjoy it. Even if your kids are a little too young to appreciate the Dressing Downton exhibit, they’re sure to enjoy the gardens blooming with beautiful flowers inviting many butterflies this time of year. You may encounter a few bees, too, so keep a watchful eye.


In conjunction with Dressing Downton, Cheekwood hosts Downton Saturdays. They take place every Saturday through Sept. 9. Each week includes Downton-themed art activities for kids in the Frist Learning Center (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.), live jazz music (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) and prohibition-style cocktails at the cash bar.

In addition, there are four special Dressing Downton related events taking place:

Drinking in the House of Windsor: British Tipples of the Early 20th Century (lecture; Saturday, July 15)

Cloche Hat Making (workshop; July 22 – 23)

Through the Looking Glass: America in the 1920s (lecture; Saturday, Aug. 5)

Dressing Downton Jewelry Making (workshop; Saturday, Aug. 26)


From July 1 – Sept. 10, check out Classic Cars in the Courtyard. See two antique cars in what was once the Cheek family’s garage. Dads will surely enjoy seeing the vintage auto designs. The cars are on display in conjunction with the mansion’s stunning restoration project.


Every Thursday at Cheekwood (through Sept. 7) is set aside for family fun during its Thursday Night Out series. The estate stays open until 10 p.m. The outings include special activities, food trucks, cash bars and family-friendly entertainment. Yoga Play kids’ fitness activities are at 5:30 p.m.

At 6:30 p.m., family-friendly entertainment hits the stage. Upcoming performers include Cowboy Dan (June 29), The WannaBeatles (July 6), Savannah Keyes (July 13), Bill Crosby (July 20), Rachel Rodriguez (July 27) and The Happy Racers (Aug. 3).

In addition, from 7 – 10 p.m., enjoy live jazz music, dancing and 1930s lawn games in tandem with the Dressing Downtown exhibit.

Find more info about the exhibit, restoration and special events at Have fun and stay cool!

About the Author

Summer in the City

Nashville Parent interns Ryan Tillman and Noah Day are hosts of "Summer in the City," a video capture, entertainment-focused out-and-about series for Nashville Parent Magazine. Ryan and Noah are rising seniors at Sewanee - The University of the South where they are both English majors. What video do you suggest they cover for "Summer in the City?" Email ideas to Ryan & Noah at