It’s Christmastime in Nashville and Rayna (Connie Britton) and Luke (Will Chase) are marking the occasion by filming a charity holiday special from her home, where the pair perform such classics as “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for the cameras.
But Rayna quickly loses her holiday cheer when she receives an advanced copy of her cover story for Rolling Stone, which reveals the details of her 20-plus year relationship with Deacon (Charles Esten). Of course, the country star willingly opened up to the reporter about the relationship in an attempt to protect Maddie’s (Lennon Stella) privacy after the writer saw the teen kissing her soon-to-be stepbrother (awkward!), but Rayna still feels she was taken out of context.
In damage control mode, Rayna desperately tries to contact Deacon, asking him to refrain from reading the story but it’s too late—he’s already gotten his hands on a copy of the magazine and is “10 different kinds of pissed.” It’s not until Deacon drops off Maddie’s Christmas gift that Rayna finally gets a chance to explain. Though he’s still upset, Deacon eventually admits what Rayna said in the article is true: he’ll never be able to let her go and will always love her. Rayna replies by letting him know that she’s definitely moved on—and he should, too. Ouch!
Meanwhile, Luke isn’t too crazy about the fact that his fiancé can’t stop obsessing over an article that might hurt her ex’s feelings, and he eyes Deacon suspiciously every time he enters Rayna’s home.
With the wild success of their reality series, Will (Chris Carmack) and Layla (Aubrey Peeples) face recognition everywhere they go, and are desperate for a break from the spotlight. They decide to escape to the only spot in town where no one will care who they are: the hipster-laden Winterfest in East Nashville. The pair split up at the music festival, where Will spends the day ordering beers from an openly gay bartender who piques his interest. Later, Will tries to kiss him, only to be rejected by the bartender, who tells him there’s more to being gay than hooking up.
Meanwhile, Layla has better luck at the festival, where she sings an original song to an impressed crowd. Among those watching is Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson), who is pleasantly surprised by Layla’s newfound songwriting skills—so much so that the pair ends up in bed together!
Elsewhere at the festival, a very pregnant Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) covers up in a crazy scarf-hat-and-sunglasses combination and rents a Rascal scooter to stalk Avery (Jonathan Jackson) after she overhears him setting up what she thinks is a date but is actually a business meeting with Sadie (Laura Benanti) about producing a song. Juliette almost ruins the collaboration when she knocks a down a display with her scooter while spying on them, but she’s able to convince a wary Sadie that working with Avery will be drama-free. Though initially upset by Juliette’s behavior, Avery tells her it’s kind of “cute” that she’s jealous.
Avery also attends the festival to perform a set with ZAG bandmates Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Zoey (Chaley Rose), after Sadie arranges for her manager Noel Laughlin (Scott Reeves) to check them out. Before their performance, Laughlin approaches the trio about the possibility of having them tour but Gunnar quickly balks at the idea because he’s hesitant to leave Micah.
Frustrated that Gunnar’s newfound fatherhood could blow a huge opportunity for the band, Zoey refuses to play the gig. Fresh off of having Terry (Mykelti Williamson) confront her about her stage fright, Scarlett (Clare Bowen) decides to face her demons—and help a couple friends in need—by filling in for Zoey. The trio rock their performance and impress Laughlin, who calls Gunnar after the show to tell him he likes the band even better with Scarlett in it.
Not so impressed is Zoey, who catches their performance on the big screen just as she’s about to enter a cab. She’s bound for the airport, where’s she’s taking a flight to Los Angeles to start a “new life.”