It was a Merry (early) Christmas in Nashville on Tuesday night (Nov. 8), as the Grand Ole Opry House turned into a winter wonderland for the taping of the annual CMA Country Christmas TV special, now in its seventh year. Jennifer Nettles returned once again to host the event, while Kelsea Ballerini, Loretta Lynn, Trisha Yearwood, Brett Eldredge, Rascal Flatts, Chris Young and recent The Voice winner Jordan Smith were among the performers.

"We have a great crop of artists who have put out records this year," Nettles shared backstage prior to the show. "It will be a very filled-out show this year, because of that."

Several of the 2016 CMA Country Christmas performers collaborated throughout the night; in addition to performing holiday classics, they also performed songs from their own Christmas albums. There will be more than 20 performances packed into the two-hour TV special, but Nettles says that she always especially loves the way CMA Country Christmas begins.

"I always look forward every year to the opener, because it's a big show opener, with huge production -- dancing and lights and lots of fun madness," Nettles admits. "And then, for me, this year specifically, the two collaborations that I have on my Christmas album, To Celebrate Christmas -- one with Andra Day, one with Idina Menzel -- I'm super excited about those."

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was an appearance by new Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Randy Travis, who, along with his wife Mary, enjoyed a front-row seat to the show. He also earned two standing ovations from the crowd throughout the night.

The 2016 CMA Country Christmas TV special will air on Nov. 28 at 8PM ET on ABC.

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