Things to do in Orlando
With the ‘House of Mouse’ setting up home in Orlando decades ago, this place is filled with theme parks. Walt Disney World Resort® – the most famous theme park in the world – is made up of several parks, including Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. But Universal Orlando Resort should also be on your Orlando holiday to-do list. This film-themed park is home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, Volcano Bay™ Water Theme Park and Universal Studios Florida™.
If your idea of a holiday is less about rides and more about relaxing, don’t worry. Orlando has plenty to offer in the form of beautiful beaches, serious shopping malls and vibrant nightlife. The city is also home to several interesting galleries and museums, including The Kennedy Space Center and the Orlando Science Center. There are even attractions for wildlife lovers. You can visit Gatorland, or take a trip to Crystal River to see gentle manatees in their natural habitat.
How to avoid the crowds in Orlando
Orlando holidays are most popular during summer, so this is the busiest time to go – you can expect higher prices and lengthy queues at the theme parks. The Easter and Christmas holidays are also a busy time to go to Orlando. For families looking to go to Orlando, May half term tends to be a slightly cheaper time to go. If you’re travelling without kids – or travelling with pre-school children – try booking your Orlando holiday for May, June or September. You’ll get good weather and fewer crowds.
Calendar of events in Orlando
Although Orlando is renowned the world over for its fun-filled theme parks, there’s much more to it than that. Plan your action-packed visit to the Sunshine State with our Orlando event calendar.
January – Walt Disney World Marathon
The only full marathon to take place on Disney property, this is a highlight in the Disney calendar. For a magic-fuelled event with a fun atmosphere and the chance to see Walt Disney World Resort® in a whole new light, make sure you’re part of the action.
February – Daytona 500
The most important and prestigious race in the NASCAR calendar takes place annually at the Daytona International Speedway. The atmosphere is unparalleled by any other racing event, as 43 stock cars zoom round for 500 miles.
March – Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival
This outdoor art festival sees over 350,000 visitors and artwork from over 200 artists, featuring paintings and sculptures made from clay, glass and leather. The three-day event also involves show-stopping jazz, children’s activities and great eats.
April – Florida Film Festival
As one of the most respected and loved regional film events, Florida Film Festival showcases the best in American and foreign films.
May – Orlando International Fringe Festival
This 14-day arts festival features an array of different performances across theatre, dance, music and art. It was the first American Fringe Festival, and is now one of the largest in the United States. Enjoy yourself as you take in a variety of off-beat – and often uncensored – performances in this creative community, which has won a series of ‘best festival’ awards.
June – Annual Harvest Festival
This annual festival offers fun for all the family. Join in with popular events like the stomping of the grapes, while listening to a variety of live music, and see the crafts and work of various local artists. You can also partake in a complimentary winery tour and tasting.
July – Fireworks at the Fountain
Celebrate American Independence Day in style at Orlando’s amazing fireworks display, located at the majestic fountain at Lake Eola Park. With food, drink, music and more, you’d be mad to miss it.
September – Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
This annual event is held during September and October at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Experience the magic of the ‘House of Mouse’ with a series of family-friendly Halloween events, including a parade, trick or treating, fireworks, stage shows and parties for children of all ages.
October – Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights™
Prepare for the ultimate Halloween experience when you head to Universal Studios in October. Halloween Horror Nights™ are not for the faint-hearted. You can expect spook-tacular events across eight haunted houses and six scare zones, plus live shows starring Universal Studios’ most famous monsters.
November – Annual Festival of Trees
Towards the end of the year, the Orlando Museum of Art is transformed into a glittering wonderland filled with sparkling trees and stunning décor. A glamorous gala night marks the start of the nine-day event. The festival continues at the museum, with daily music performances and family entertainment throughout the week.
December – Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ transforms for Christmas, as snow and festive decorations adorn the streets of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Enjoy festive food, drink and entertainment – and make sure you don’t miss the grand finale. Every night, a magical spell is cast on Hogwarts castle, cascading it in magic, candlelight and festive moments inspired by the films. It’s a truly amazing sight for any Potterhead.