There’s more to Orlando, Florida than theme parks. The countless food and music festivals, fairs, carnivals, and expos not only keep the locals and tourists busy throughout the year, but also infuse the city with love, joy, and culture. Almost every beach hosts a number of events pretty much every month, whether it be Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Delray Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Walton Beach, or Vera Beach. That’s the thing about Orlando, you’re never too far from a good event.
Oktoberfest In Downtown Avalon Park
While the world’s largest beer fest takes place in Germany, you don’t have to go that far to get a taste of it. Every year, Orlando organizes Oktoberfest where you can pretend you’re in Germany with their beer, food, music, and games. There’s live music, a free bounce park, and community performances as well.
4th of July Celebration In Downtown Avalon Park
Head over to Avalon Park for the fourth of July celebration filled with food trucks, fireworks, vendors, a free bounce park, and other entertainment. The event is free and doesn’t require any tickets. It’s an excellent place to celebrate the momentous occasion with your friends and family.
Central Florida Veg Fest
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, head to the Orlando Festival Park in October to have the biggest veggie-based feast of your life. People who want to learn more about how a vegetarian/vegan-based lifestyle enhances our health and environment will have a good time at the Fest. You’ll find nearly 40 food vendors here including Ain’t Yo’ Mama’s Baked Beans, Mango Kings, Kale Café, Framework Craft Coffee Bar, and Dharma Southern Kitchen.
In addition to yummy food, there will be food preparation demonstrations, speakers, and live music. Visitors will also get a chance to buy hundreds of products that are made without using a single animal component.
Every October, Orlando brings Spooktacular to downtown Avalon Park where children have fun with trick-or-treating while adults explore food trucks, games, caricature artists, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and more.
As the name suggests, “spooky” is the theme of the event so everything from the music to the food will be Halloween-themed. If you scare easy, avoid going to the inflatable corn maze that has scary surprises hidden at every corner! If that doesn’t sound exciting enough, there’s also a live-fire performance by skilled artists.
Calle Orange Festival
Festival Calle Orange Downtown Orlando celebrates the diversity of the Hispanic community with four action-packed stages and more than 40 singers and bands. October’s warm sunshine makes this Latin affair even better. Vendors line the streets with everything from pinchos to hot dogs. You’ll find your fair share of chicharron, arepa, chorizo, empanadas, and coconut-flavored drinks. 10 city blocks in downtown Orlando are turned into a street festival with dance-worthy music and heaps of food.
More than 20,000 people attend the festival each year. Some of the world’s most popular salsa groups like El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico perform on four stages. They also have a whole block dedicated to Kids Play Zone so your little ones will have a blast.
This is hands down one of the most delicious festivals in Florida. Orlando throws an annual celebration of the strawberry harvest that features pie-eating contests, free entertainment, games, midway rides, and livestock shows. You can expect many strawberry-filled treats like milkshakes, shortcakes, cheesecakes, jams, cotton candy, homemade fudge, brownies, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and more. Not to mention multiple varieties of fresh strawberries!
The festival held at the Plant City festival welcomes nearly 500,000 visitors over the course of 11 days. The musical part of the festival is headlined by well-known names such as Nelly and Jake Owen and The Beach Boys.
Florida Manatee Festival
Florida organizes two manatee festivals each January: one in Crystal River and one in Orange City. Both are great places to see hundreds of manatees frolicking in the clear water. If you have children, this is a fun event to educate them about marine life. You can book a boat tour or a guided kayak tour to watch these gentle giants from up close.
The festival also includes live entertainment on multiple stages, wine and beer gardens, food courts, a kid's zone, craft vendors, and a fine art walk.
Repticon Orlando Reptile & Exotic Animal Show
Whether you want to buy an exotic animal or you already have one and need pet supplies from quality suppliers, Repticon has it all. It’s held over 2 days and you’ll get the opportunity to see and purchase live animals from different parts of the planet. Keep in mind that due to recent changes in Florida law, public displays of Tegus and pet Iguana species have been prohibited so you can’t bring these creatures to the show.
Other than that, this is a family-family, fun-filled event and offers an incredible opportunity to learn about animals you don’t commonly see in local pet stores: hundreds of spiders, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and small exotic animals. They also have seminars on several animal-related topics to help you sharpen your knowledge.
Eight Flags Shrimp Festival
Food, fireworks, and free concerts – what more do you need to kick off your summer? Eight Flags Shrimp Festival takes place at Fernandina’s riverfront, so technically it’s not in Orlando but only a couple of hours’ drive away. It’s also one of the few kid-friendly Florida festivals with a gigantic Kids Fun Zone. They also have antique vendors, crafts vendors, and a huge fine arts show. Plus, you’ll find some of the tastiest festival food here.
And did we tell you about the big Shrimp Festival parade? Thousands of people line the parade route to see pirates, gymnasts, dancers, marching bands, floats, and other visual delights. A notable part of the free festival is the art show where hundreds of arts and crafts booths line up the historic district streets of the city.
Florida Folk Festival
The Florida Folk Festival started over 70 years ago and has now become a staple for every Memorial Day weekend. If you’re interested in folk music or want to learn about Florida’s diverse cultural heritage and history, this is a good place to go. The music festival is held at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park and is considered one of the best Florida festivals for music and arts. You’ll find live performances as well as traditional crafts such as henna tattoos and split rail fences.
Their food is just as legendary. Some of the fan favorites include shrimp gumbo, Jamaican patties, blue crab burritos, and chicken and dumplings.
Since the festival’s purpose is to keep cultural traditions alive, you’ll also find a number of workshops and demonstrations to learn things like playing the mandolin, making a pine needle basket, and square dancing. The loud music festival features over 300 performances by Florida’s best folk and roots stars, as well as gospel, blues, folk, zydeco, Caribbean, bluegrass, jazz, Latin, and country music.
Swamp Cabbage Festival
This festival has been celebrated east of Fort Myers for over 56 years and is a big part of LaBelle’s history. As the name suggests, the festival features swamp cabbage in the starring role. For those who don’t know, swamp cabbage is a traditional Florida vegetable extracted from the center of the cabbage palm tree.
To mark the occasion, there’s a parade, a beauty pageant for teen-age girls, a rodeo, and armadillo races. Even though it’s a family-friendly festival, i.e., no alcohol is allowed, it draws over 30,000 people every year. It’s one of the free food festivals so you don’t need to pay a cent to enter. They also hold a 5k run and a bass tournament to make the free event even more interesting. You’ll find dozens of vendors selling a variety of food and crafts.
Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam
Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam is a country music festival held at Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach in Florida for 3 days. Festival-goers from all over the country come here for the music as well as the picturesque location. The countless food vendors add to the festivities.
Pensacola Seafood Festival
This Florida seafood festival takes place in historic downtown Pensacola Beach, featuring delicious seafood along with various musical acts. This is also considered an important international art festival with more than 150 craftsmen and artisans from around the world showcasing their work. You’ll see a plethora of unique offerings, including candles, soaps, ceramics, pottery, gourmet, glass, metal, jewelry, clothing, photography, drawings, paintings, woodcraft, and more.
Past performers at the Pensacola Seafood Festival have included Moon Taxi, Ashley McBryde, The Revivalists, Jordan Davis, Smithfield, Chris Stapleton, and Brothers Osbourne.
The festival features a variety of food and other vendors that offer pretty much every seafood dish you can imagine: grilled, fried, and blackened, shaved ice, ice cream, fried fair food options, chicken, burgers, and much more.