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The information listed below reflects Commencement 2016 event details.



For the thirteenth year, Vanderbilt will host a big outdoor dance party whose simple name says it all: THE PARTY. This event launches three days of commencement  events  with live entertainment and a huge dance floor offering a memorable evening of fun and celebration for the whole family.

This year, local band SIXWIRE from the hit series  NASHVILLE  will kick things off with a special guest appearance from the multi-talented  Charles Esten.

Chip Esten

Best known for his current lead role as Deacon Claybourne, Esten portrays a musician, which he is in his own right. A graduate of William & Mary, Esten began his vocal career while completing his undergraduate degree in economics. He went on to pursue a career in acting, landing an early role in the televised comedy, Whose Line is it Anyway? about the time his career launched in television and film. While on "NASHVILLE” Esten has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and the historic Ryman auditorium, and has become a diplomat of sorts in Nashville, where he lives with his wife, Patty, and their three children. Esten is a featured artist on the nine very successful "Nashville" soundtracks that have been released to date, two of which include “I Know How to Love You Now” which he co-wrote with Deana Carter. Last summer Esten released his first independent single, “Hot One” which is available on iTunes.  He is looking forward to releasing more of his own music in the near future.  

swire Sixwire has the distinction of being the backing band for several lead characters on the hit ABC-TV show NASHVILLE. What better way to showcase one reason why Nashville was ranked the only U.S. city on Lonely Planet's Global Top-10 list for 2016. Being located in Music City USA, means there is no shortage of amazing talent in town. Sixwire is no exception.  From pop-country to classic rock, they pack a high-energy show.  

Cranking up the second half of the evening will be The Downtown Band.  Voted the "Best Live Band in Tennessee" three years in a row, the Downtown Band is a dance-driven cover band with sounds from all the classic eras. An extreme dynamic of songs and styles the group fills dance floors every time they step onstage.   Bring your dancing shoes and be prepared for an unforgettable evening



  Individual tickets are no longer available online, but may be purchased at the door for $25. TABLES are sold out.

  • May 11 from 9 p.m. – Midnight - Gates open at 8:30 p.m.
  • Opening THE PARTY, Nashville band Sixwire with Charles Esten from ABC's hit show NASHVILLE
  • The Downtown Band will complete the evening
  • Commons Center Lawn
  • Rain or shine
  • Graduates get in free with their VU ID
  • Bags may be subject to search.  All large backpacks and baggage will need to be checked upon arrival.
  • Children 12 years of age and under do not require a ticket.
  • SOLD OUT: Tables will be available for purchase for $200 until April 29, (while still available). A table includes admission for 10 guests to enjoy the evening as a group.
  • Universal Carding is the law in the State of Tennessee. If you plan to purchase drink tickets for beer, wine or liquor at THE PARTY please remember to bring your ID. Regardless of age, everyone who plans to drink alcoholic beverages will be required to show ID before receiving a wristband which allows guests of legal age to purchase drink tickets and consume alcoholic beverages at THE PARTY.


What is THE PARTY?

Vanderbilt’s community celebration for its graduating students and their families and guests with a huge outdoor dance floor with live entertainment.

Who is invited?

Degree candidates (including undergraduate, graduate and professional school students), their families, friends. Other members of the Vanderbilt Community including friends from the administration, faculty and staff.

When is THE PARTY?

The Wednesday before Commencement, May 11 from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Are tickets required?

Yes, this is the only Commencement event requiring a ticket. All degree candidates will have access to the Party with their Vanderbilt ID. Guest tickets may be purchased the door for $25. Children 12 and under do not require a ticket and will be admitted free of charge.

What is the attire?

No specific requirement. We recommend snappy casual with comfortable shoes for dancing.

Where do I park for THE PARTY?

Several parking lots near The Commons Center Lawn will be available specifically for guests attending this event. Please follow the parking signs.

Can I get a shuttle bus from the parking lots to THE PARTY?

Continuous shuttle service will be provided from the Wesley Place Garage to THE PARTY from 7:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m.

Will alcoholic beverages be served?

Yes. Guests of legal age may purchase drink tickets for use at the cash bars. Wristbands are required for purchase. Be prepared to show photo ID that verifies age at the entry gates in order to receive a wristband. Universal Carding is the law in the State of Tennessee. Regardless of age, everyone who plans to drink alcoholic beverages will be required to show ID before receiving a wristband which allows guests of legal age to purchase drink tickets and consume alcoholic beverages at THE PARTY. Free soft drinks will be available for pickup throughout the event site.

Will there be food?

Yes. Dinner will not be served, but party food will be on hand for light snacking - at no cost.

Where can I find a restroom?

Portable bathroom facilities will be available at the event site. Bathrooms will also be available on the first floor of the Commons Center.

What about disability related needs?

Accessible entrances are available onto the Commons Center lawn on east side of the Commons Center adjacent to Hobbs Lab. There will also be reserved parking for guests with mobility impairments in Lot #84 alongside 18th Ave. South. Please follow the signs.

What happens in case of rain?

THE PARTY will occur outdoors, rain or shine. Sign up for Commencement text alerts to be notified in the event of severe weather. No umbrellas, please.  

Party Layout

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Future Commencement Dates

 2017  -  May 10, 11, 12
 2018  -  May 9, 10, 11
 2019  -  May 8, 9, 10
 2020 -  May 6, 7, 8

Sign up for Text Alerts!

Text Alerts

Vanderbilt offers a complimentary early alert system for all Commencement attendees. The system is designed to inform you, via text message, if any of the main ceremonies have been moved or canceled due to weather or any unexpected circumstance.