While most people associate Central Florida with amusement parks, the area has other thrills to offer visitors. Throughout the year, the area is home to many unique and exciting festivals. Learn more about the biggest festivals in Central Florida.
Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival
For over 60 years, the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival has been taking over the streets of Winter Park. Regarded as one of the oldest and largest outdoor art festivals, this event attracts over 350,000 people every year. What started as a small community project blossomed into an international event. Over 1,100 artists from across the globe apply to participate in the festival each year.
Only a small portion of those artists are on display at the festival. In fact, a panel of judges picks out 225 artists. Those artists showcase a variety of art types, all of which include the following:
- Digital art
- 3D mixed media
By the end of the festival, there are 63 awards issued to artists. Some of the winners have their work displayed at local venues and win cash prizes. But professional artists aren’t the only ones who can be creative at this festival. Children can attend the Children’s Workshop and make their own artwork. They have the opportunity to do easel painting and other fun activities.
Florida Strawberry Festival
Over the span of 11 days, the Florida Strawberry Festival attracts over 500,000 attendees every year. The event takes place in Eastern Hillsborough County and celebrates strawberries and the rural way of life.
The festival features live entertainment, livestock shows, and strawberry-infused foods. During the festival, there are parades, contests, and much more. You can also view crafts at the vendor booths and pick up some souvenirs.
What makes this festival so special is the fact that it highlights the rural culture of central Florida. The area is teeming with farms and agricultural industries. Many locals depend on their strawberry harvests to survive. The festival started in 1930 and has managed to endure through time.
In 1990, the Zora! Festival was born. It pays homage to Zora Neale Hurston, a famous collector and interpreter of African American culture. Since its inception, the festival has attracted over 1.5 million people.
Hurston was a driving force during the Harlem Renaissance era. Originally from Eatonville, Florida, the locals choose to remember her contribution to society every year with this event. It’s a multi-day festival that has a wide array of events. There are public discussions, museum exhibitions, and theatre performances. For aspiring artists and art-lovers, there are arts education programs.
Every year, the festival brings renowned artists and scholars to town. 2020’s festival featured Michel’le, Howard Hewett, and Public Announcement. During that same year, one notable event was the Beyond Black Panther Masquerade Party. The event raised money for local education programs.
If you love African American culture or art, then Zora! shouldn’t be missed. Be sure to put this one on your calendar.
Electric Daisy Carnival Orlando
Whether you love electronic dance music or you just like to party, you’ll appreciate the Electric Daisy Carnival in Orlando. Also referred to as the EDC, this festival is known as the largest electronic dance music festival in North America. Each year, it takes place during May in Orlando.
The event features prominent producers and DJs like Armin van Buuren, Diplo, Afrojack, and Tiësto. They play house, techno, dubstep, and other forms of electronic music. But the festival is more than just a display of musical talent. It’s also a celebration of art and aims to inspire others. If you attend, you can expect to find 3D structures, bright scenery, and glow-in-the-dark backgrounds.
No carnival is complete without rides. For thrill-seekers, there are plenty of adrenaline-pumping rides. Those who prefer a more mild experience will enjoy the relaxing amusement rides. Because of all the great music and entertainment, the festival won the 2017 Festival of the Year Award.
Sebring Soda Festival, Sebring
Festivals in Florida honor everything from the ordinary to the strange. Although music and art festivals are among the most common types of events, there are some truly interesting ones. The Sebring Soda Festival ranks as one of the more unique Florida events.
Located in Sebring, this festival is in a small town along a lake. The quaint town turns into a lively tourist hub every tear as the locals celebrate craft soda. Vendors make small-batch sodas in flavors you’ve never imagined. If you’re up for it, you can try as many as 200 different flavors. You’ll come across candied bacon, key lime, and peach cobbler soda. Those who are feeling nostalgic can try some vintage sodas, like Moxie and Cheerwine.
In addition to trying the soda, you can meet some of the masterminds behind the flavors and brands. Soda makers from all over the country come to the festival to showcase their drinks. Kids can enjoy an outdoor movie, games, fun, and more.
While you’re trying the soda, you can also enjoy a meal made by one of several local food trucks. There’s also live music at a block party concert.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts
Disney World is home to several festivals throughout the year, some of which are the biggest festivals in Central Florida. The Epcot International Festival of the Arts is one such event. Throughout the park, there are awe-inspiring artworks on display. You’ll come across live statues, chalk art, and much more.
There’s also art in food, and this festival showcases that. Throughout the park, there are food vendors selling their culinary treats. Just be sure to bring your camera, because you may want to remember how good it looks.
While you’re at the festival, you can also see live performances. In 2017, Ashley Brown put on quite the performance. There are also live demonstrations and workshops.
Enjoying the Biggest Festivals in Central Florida
This year, make a plan to attend some of the most popular Central Florida festivals. While you do, you might develop a love for the lesser-known part of the state.
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Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.