Flights to Orlando
The happiest place on Earth? When you consider Orlando’s enormous theme parks, its strong Floridian sun, its wildlife adventures and its burgeoning culinary scene, for many, it certainly is.
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Also known as “The Theme Park Capital of the World,” Orlando draws millions of visitors each year looking to ride the roller coasters at Universal Studios, sip butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and hobnob with costumed characters at the inimitable Walt Disney World. But there’s more to Orlando than just theme parks. Buzzing neighbourhoods like Audubon Park and the Milk District host trendy bars and restaurants; adventure experiences let out-of-towners try out NASCAR racing or nighttime kayaking; and state parks bring visitors close (but not too close) to gators and other local critters. Take a look at our Orlando guide and discover the best bits of this fun-loving locale.
Must do recommendations
From Universal Studios to all things Disney, you can’t visit Orlando without stopping off at the theme parks.
Given Orlando’s climate, an afternoon at its thrilling (and chilling) water rides is a holiday must.
Beyond the rides, Disney Springs is a lively hub of dining, live entertainment, and shopping.
Orlando Craft Beer
Beat the summer sun with a frosty pint at Orlando’s best craft breweries.
Florida’s Kennedy Space Center is the next best thing to the cosmos, thanks to its Astronaut Training Experience.
Bioluminescence kayaking tour
Discover nature’s coolest glow-in-the-dark creatures on a nighttime kayak journey through a local wildlife refuge.
Food and drink
Whether you choose to dine in Orlando’s theme parks or opt to hit the town, expect a high standard of global fare (the days of surviving on burgers and candyfloss have long since passed). Instead, diners have their pick of international menus, from Chinese dim sum to Polynesian cuisine, and everything in between.
Did you know?
Did you know?
Orlando may not be Florida’s biggest city – Jacksonville and Miami come first – but it’s got history to spare. The first European arrival in the region dates to the 16th century, while Orlando’s Native American roots go back centuries further. Now a top destination for international visitors, and with its own thriving culture on tap, there’s much to learn about Orlando – including these surprising facts.
- Orlando has a few nicknames, from “The City Beautiful” to “The Theme Park Capital of the World.” But another nickname, “O-Town,” is more than just a moniker for Orlando: a boy-band of the same name starred in an MTV reality show filmed in the city in 2000.
- Orlando has more than 100 lakes, most of which are the result of sinkholes that form in the earth when the underlying limestone dissolves. The scenic Lake Eola is Orlando’s best-known sinkhole-turned-lake.
- No one really knows where the name “Orlando” comes from – while a few different theories exist, none of them have ever been conclusively proven. We do know, however, that Orlando’s first name was “Jernigan,” after an early European settler. Of the two options, “Orlando” was probably the better choice.
- The Orlando suburb of Dr. Phillips was once home to the world’s largest individual citrus grower. Its namesake, Philip Phillips, owned thousands of acres of orange, grapefruit, and tangerine groves in the mid-20th century.
From the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC to Oscar winning films and iconic American literature, discover some of the most famous books, movies and music that Orlando has featured in.
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Events in Orlando
- The Citrus Bowl: This historic New Year’s Day college football game takes place at Camping World Stadium, preceded a few days earlier by the televised Florida Citrus Parade through downtown Orlando.
- Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities: Held in the last week of January in Eatonville, six miles north of Orlando, this African-American festival celebrates the life of the 20th century writer, folklorist and anthropologist.
- Silver Spurs Rodeo: Held in Kissimmee, the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi attracts cowboys from across the professional circuit.
- GeorgeFest: Taking place every year for more than a century, this celebration is the USA’s second longest running festival to mark the life of founding father George Washington.
- Central Florida Fair: Celebrating the livestock and horticulture industries for over 100 years, expect carnival rides, exhibits, live music, food stalls and more.
- St. Patrick’s Day Party: Downtown Disney holds its annual party near the buzzing Raglan Road Irish Pub, with dancers, musicians and stilt walkers on hand, plus plenty of authentic Irish grub.
- JazzFest Kissimmee: Lakefront Park in Kissimmee is the venue for this two-day festival featuring performances by amateur and professional musicians, along with art exhibitions and local food and drink.
- Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival: Held at downtown Orlando’s Heritage Square, this Louisiana-inspired food festival offers hungry diners piled-high plates of spicy crawfish.
- Orlando International Fringe Festival: This 14-day arts festival is the longest running fringe event in the United States, offering an affordable, accessible and diverse line-up of performances.
- Orlando Carnival: Held every year at the end of May, this Caribbean-style Mardis Gras festival promotes the culture of the Caribbean with music, dancing, a fish fry and block party, and a spectacular parade.
- Gay Days: One of the world’s most popular LGBT celebrations, culminating in an official party at the Walt Disney World Resort on the first Saturday in June.
- Sounds Like Summer Concert Series: This annual live concert series takes place at Epcot theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort and features some of the greatest tribute bands on the planet.
- Downtown Orlando 4th of July Celebration: Experience the area’s greatest firework and light show over Lake Eola, plus other patriotic festivities during the day.
- The Mascot Games: Every year, the Amway Center in downtown Orlando hosts more than 30 professional sports team mascots who compete in a variety of gladiator-themed games and stunts.
- Orlando’s Magical Dining Month: Beginning at the end of August and finishing in early October, Magical Dining Month offers the chance to enjoy three-course meals for $33 in some of the finest restaurants in the city.
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: Held over select nights, this fun event at Magic Kingdom encourages kids to dress up in their favourite Halloween costumes and watch the parade and fireworks with their favourite Disney characters.
- Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: This well-established event runs from September – November and features guest chefs, cookery demonstrations, special culinary experiences and live entertainment.
- Blocktoberfest: On the first Saturday in October, celebrate one of Europe’s oldest drinking holidays in downtown Orlando. Expect German food, German oompah music, and multiple jugs of German beer.
- Halloween Horror Nights: Encounter hordes of scary monsters, horrifying haunted houses and terrifying live shows at Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights event, held on select autumn nights.
- Fiesta in the Park: Lake Eola Park is the venue for Central Florida’s largest arts and crafts festival, featuring more than 600 artists and crafters, live entertainment, kids’ play areas and a multitude of food stalls.
- Candlelight Processional: Epcot’s retelling of the Christmas story features a 50-piece orchestra, a special guest narrator and a variety of choirs.
- The Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios: Featuring the gigantic floats and balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, this festive extravaganza includes an appearance from Santa himself.
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parade and Party: See Magic Kingdom transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland on select nights, with special parades, holiday fireworks and entertainment shows.
What will the weather be like?
Before you set off, take a look at our Orlando International Airport guide.
The electricity supply is 120 volts in Orlando. Standard British plugs will need an adapter.
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