See why our welcoming nature, world-class experiences and LGBTQ+ celebrations — including Gay Days and related events — continue to make Orlando a top destination for everyone.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Orlando is the sort of destination where everyone is welcome! In fact, it could be argued that Orlando’s popularity among LGBTQ+ travelers has as much to do with our open, inclusive nature as our theme parks and attractions, dining, nightlife, shopping, arts and culture, outdoor adventures, and other world-class experiences.
With our unique blend of unforgettable adventures and vibrant, contemporary nightlife, it’s no wonder that Orlando earned the first-ever “City of the Year” designation from GayCities.com. We also earned a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which measures the LGBTQ+ inclusiveness of cities’ laws, policies and services. Read on to see what else we have in store for you, including several high-profile LGBTQ+ events such as Gay Days Orlando, and why you’ll want to make us part of your vacation travel plans!
Top LGBTQ+ Events in Orlando
Orlando is a diverse destination with a host of high-quality happenings throughout the year, including theme park events, holiday celebrations, food festivals and more. Needless to say, everyone is invited! But just like the destination itself, Orlando’s events calendar is packed with LGBTQ+ activities — and on most years, things really start heating up around the first weekend in June.
That's when Gay Days Orlando usually continues the famous tradition that started in 1991. In the nearly 30 years since, it’s blossomed into one of the world’s largest pride celebrations with a full slate of ancillary events. The first weekend in June also traditionally features more of Orlando’s most famous LGBTQ+ events: RED Shirt Pride Day (June 6, 2020), One Magical Weekend, Girls in Wonderland and Tidal Wave Party.
However, due to coronavirus concerns, many of Orlando's LGBTQ+ events that normally take place in June have been rescheduled. Those changes include Gay Days (Oct. 27 – Nov. 2, 2020), Girls in Wonderland (Oct. 1-5, 2020), One Magical Weekend (June 3-7, 2021) and Tidal Wave Party (June 3-7, 2021).
One Magical Weekend is one of the largest LGBTQ+ pride and music festivals on the planet. It brings world-class events and a roster of internationally renowned DJs to Orlando’s tourism district. Girls in Wonderland, which caters to female members of the LGBTQ+ community, serves as a perfect complement to One Magical Weekend with celebrity appearances, special performances and lavish parties. Those aren’t our only LGBTQ+ events that weekend, either. Hosted by B Resort & Spa at Disney Springs®, Orlando’s Tidal Wave Party features numerous pool parties at various locations. Several other ancillary events take place during the same time frame.
On June 12, Orlando and the world take a day to remember and honor the memories of the 49 lives lost in the Pulse tragedy of 2016. However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, memorial services will take place virtually in 2020. A related event, the CommUNITY Rainbow Run, has been rescheduled from its usual June positioning to Sept. 12, 2020.
Finally, don’t miss Come Out With Pride Orlando, next scheduled for October 10, 2020. Held in and around downtown’s gorgeous Lake Eola Park, this nonprofit celebration invites everyone from Central Florida and beyond to come together in support of Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community.
Top LGBTQ+ Experiences in Orlando
Orlando has long been a pioneer in LGBTQ+ tourism, dating back to the original Gay Days — and it’s not just because of our theme parks, attractions and LGBTQ+ events. Here are some other aspects that make Orlando a destination you’ll want to experience for yourself.
Unforgettable Live Entertainment
For Broadway shows, ballet, concerts by national headliners and similar fare, make a date with the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Located in downtown Orlando, it was named one of Travel + Leisure magazine’s “25 New Tourist Attractions Worth Adding to Your Bucket List” when it debuted. Close by, SAK Comedy Lab offers improvisational comedy with a hearty dose of audience participation — you might even find yourself called up on stage! From there, it’s just a short drive to The Venue, an intimate, comfortable space with some of the best in local artistry and theater, such as The Ladies of the Peek-a-Boo Lounge, the longest-running burlesque show in Orlando.
In Orlando’s tourism district, make time for Mango’s Tropical Café, conveniently located on International Drive just a short distance from all major theme parks and attractions. As you feel the beat of the Latin rhythms, sit back and enjoy the world-famous Mango’s Dancers — or generate some heat of your own on the dance floor.
In Orlando’s North Orange district, about 10 minutes from downtown, Savoy Orlando is an LGBTQ+ nightclub with themed events for any mood, such as Flashback Fridays and Martini Mondays. It also contains the Starlite Room, a cabaret venue that hosts standup comedy, musical acts and more. Also close to downtown, Southern Nights nightclub presents numerous happenings, starting with drag nights and GIRL The Party, Florida’s top-rated and largest Saturday-night celebration for lesbians.
Across the street from downtown’s Orlando City Stadium, Stonewall Bar started as a one-story gay bar but has since grown to two stories complete with a sky bar, video bar, patio and onsite restaurant. And adjacent to downtown’s Lake Eola Park, Stardust Lounge is an underground bar (literally) with a chic, retro style reminiscent of old-school Las Vegas.
You won’t want to miss the downtown area’s smaller, self-proclaimed LGBTQ+ bars, either. For the past 30 years, Hank’s Bar has served Orlando as a friendly watering hole with pool tables, a jukebox and a large, private, outdoor patio. Similarly, BarCodes Orlando is a value-packed bar that provides ample opportunity for meeting new friends, while The Hammered Lamb is a lively pub with superb food.
The Pulse Interim Memorial
Located at the site of the former Pulse nightclub near downtown Orlando, this temporary memorial is dedicated to a hopeful future where every human being will be free to live their truth in an understanding world full of love, unity, acceptance, courage and strength.
Scheduled to be replaced by a permanent museum in the coming years, the interim memorial is currently the central point for Orlando’s annual Pulse remembrances. Free to visit, it’s open daily from 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., with extended hours during Remembrance Week and select holidays.
More to Explore in Orlando
When making plans to visit Orlando, keep in mind we have a lot more in store for you, including celebrity chefs and local culinary heroes, luxury and outlet shopping, soothing spas, out-of-this-world resort pools, and eco-tourism, to name a few. Follow our blog for more ideas on how to have the vacation of a lifetime in Orlando!
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