Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini to Return as Hosts for ABC Special ‘CMA Fest’

Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini
Photo by Tammie Arroyo/

Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini are set to return as co-hosts for the second year of the televised special CMA Fest. The three-hour concert special, which aims to bring the ultimate fan experience to a national television audience, takes its name from the annual four-day country music festival located in Nashville.

CMA Fest will air on Aug. 8 at 8/7c on ABC. Throughout the three hours, viewers will be transported to Music City during the busiest week of the year. The 2018 CMA Fest was held June 7-10 in downtown Nashville and saw nearly 90,000 country music fans descend upon the city. Live performances and fan meet-and-greets were held all day and night throughout the week with video cameras capturing each moment.

“This year’s CMA Fest is our biggest yet, with many artists debuting full festival sets on the Nissan Stadium stage,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer, in a press release. “We’re thrilled once again to broadcast ‘CMA Fest’ and bring the festival to millions of Country Music fans not only here in the U.S. but all around the world.”

Thomas took to Instagram to share the big announcement. “We’re back 😎 @kelseaballerini and I are hosting #CMAFest again this year! Save the date: Aug 8”

The televised broadcast will highlight performances by some of the biggest names in country music from the nightly shows held at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium. More than 25 acts will be showcased throughout the three-hour special with plenty of surprises and collaborations featured.

Artists like Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood took part in the nightly stadium performances for rousing sets that showcased the talent within the country community. In addition to Nissan Stadium, CMA Fest includes 10 other official stages where country fans could witness their favorite artists performing live.

Over 300 artists donated their time at CMA Fest to support music education. All proceeds made from the festival go to the CMA Foundation, a non-profit that helps to enrich and sustain music education programs in public schools throughout the nation.