As well as being the home of the best family-orientated amusements in the world, this region of Central Florida can also lay claim to being at the heart of some fabulous year-round events and festivals which add a terrific layer of extra value to any trip to the Sunshine State.
From rodeos to film festivals, Easter to Halloween, there is very often something happening over and above all the multitude of regular attractions in and around Orlando. Many of these are unique to Florida, and therefore well worth adding to your holiday plan. A few are even worth making a beeline for in their own right, like the annual Sun ’n Fun Air Festival in Lakeland (brilliant for plane buffs), the Walt Disney World Marathon (now a major yearly event for keen runners) and Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights programme throughout October, which is a brilliant addition to their theme parks.
Christmas is another wonderful time to be in Orlando and around the parks, although there is the drawback of crowds being at their highest from Christmas Eve to January 4. At these times, many of the parks fill to capacity on some days, and you need to be in by 9am or risk finding the parks (especially Magic Kingdom) closed to new arrivals by mid-morning.
- PRO SPOT: The Christmas and New Year periods are usually quite breath-taking at all the main theme parks, with special parades, fireworks and other festive elements. However, with the way the crowds build up, they can also be quite uncomfortable, even allowing for the fact they have extended evening hours. If you are keen to sample Christmas á la Disney, the best time to visit to enjoy all the Christmas events but without the heavy crowds is the first three weeks of December. Christmas decorations begin to go up as early as late October, making November a good choice, avoiding the busy week surrounding Thanksgiving (always the fourth Thursday in November).