This year, Sports Illustrated is kicking off the biggest celebration yet for its annual Swimsuit Issue in a city that's not exactly synonymous with sun and sand: Nashville, Tenn.
On Feb. 11 and 12, the Time Inc. brand, in partnership with the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., will transform part of the city's main drag of Lower Broadway into "Swimville," where consumers can attend various events and musical performances by up-and-coming artists. The big centerpiece of the two-day festival—apart from appearances by the SI Swim models—will be a concert headlined by Nashville locals Kings of Leon. (The band's lead singer, Caleb Folowill, also happens to be married to 2014 SI Swim cover star Lily Aldridge.)
So why choose Nashville as this year's SI Swim hub rather than a more swimwear-friendly location? (In previous years, the magazine has hosted a handful of smaller, mostly private events in locations like Miami and Las Vegas.)
"To follow up on the 50th anniversary [of the Swimsuit Issue], we're making this the most consumer-facing franchise in brand history, and we wanted to do it in a place that's really representative of the Sports Illustrated brand," said the magazine's publisher Brendan Ripp. "We started looking at towns across America that really reflected the American spirit. Nashville is a sports town, a college town, a music town, and it's having such a great period of success right now. When you look at what's happening in Nashville, it felt like the perfect location to set up shop."
According to the brand, SI Swim reaches more than 70 million adults annually through its various platforms. Last year's 50th Anniversary Swimsuit Issue, which featured models Aldridge, Chrissy Teigen and Nina Agdal on the cover, was the franchise's biggest since 1989 with 112 ad pages. It sold approximately 785,000 single copies.
The 2015 Swimsuit Issue cover will be revealed on Feb. 9.