You would expect a bustling, happy-go-lucky place like Orlando to have a busy and exciting series of events throughout the year. Surely there are fireworks, games, poolside parties, music festivals catering to all tastes and, not to mention, various child-friendly activities involving themed characters by the dozen?
You would not be wrong. Orlando is a happening place in the summer months and the excitement doesn’t end come October. With its subtropical climate, Orlando actually has two main seasons – the hot and rainy season from May through to September and the drier, cooler season from October through to April. When we say cooler here, of course, the temperature still manages to stay fairly warm, so autumn to spring can be the perfect time to visit.
Major festivals include the Fringe, a 14 day festival in May that celebrates theatre, music and dance. Founded in 1992, the Fringe is based on the concept of the Edinburgh Fringe, which has been followed by various cities throughout the world. Artists have the opportunity to showcase their work in an uncensored environment and Orlando’s Fringe aims to deliver a diverse array of performers.
OrlandoFest, an extravaganza of concert bands, choirs, orchestras, parade bands, jazz bands, guitar ensembles and more, is held on select weekends throughout the year at Universal Orlando Resort. There is also the All American Music Festival, Orlando’s oldest music festival, which brings high school bands from across the US together with performers from places as far flung as Japan, Newfoundland and Puerto Rico.
Rock the Universe, one of the largest Christian music festivals in Florida, is held in September at Universal Studios. Partying goes hand in hand with prayer and celebration at this festival, where you can listen to Christian rock bands perform while experiencing the dizzying rush of breath taking rollercoasters and other unbelievable rides. Another Christian music festival is Night of Joy, also held in September at Walt Disney World Resort. Music acts range from rap and hip-hop to rock.
In November the Anti Pop Music Festival is held in downtown Orlando. With a diverse selection of established and up-and-coming artists, this underground festival brings a variety of acts to numerous clubs and theatres. Also in autumn, the Global Peace Film Festival aims to promote the power of film to encourage worldwide peace.
Theme parks become scream parks and Halloween horror abounds throughout October as the party draws to a creepy climax. Universal Orlando Resort features events such as Halloween Horror Nights, with haunted houses and live shows. Acclaimed by horror fans from around the world, this is a unique event not to be missed. Walt Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, on the other hand, has a fun and happy vibe – it is suitable for all ages and features a Disney character Halloween parade, light and music shows, fireworks and more.
The festive season kicks off with the Orlando Christmas Parade and Holiday in the Park Festival early in December. Packed with dance acts, marching bands and gourmet food stands, there’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit. Santa and his elves of course make regular appearances.
Other festive events include The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a spectacular display of sparkling seasonal lights, with reindeer, sledges, Christmas trees, stars and angels galore. Back at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Very Christmas Party is a fun-packed event with fireworks, live entertainers and themed parades. Grinchmas at Universal Orlando is a family favourite, while ICE! at Gaylord Palms features amazing winter wonderland hand-carved ice sculptures. SeaWorld features ice-skating shows, fireworks and cascading water fountains, together with comedy, theatre and, of course, spectacular animal shows. Christmas markets with special festive treats abound, both at SeaWorld and other theme parks.
Festivals continue into spring, with Mardi Gras at Universal Studios, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, Central Florida Fair, Florida Strawberry Festival, Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival and Viva La Music Latin festival.
All the venues hosting events throughout the year can be easily reached by car, and car hire in Orlando with Avis means that you needn’t miss a minute of the action.