A table exhibit at the Zora! Festival
On Track Media
A table exhibit at the Zora! Festival
On Track Media

Zora! Festival: A Celebration of Education, Arts and Culture in Orlando

More than half a century before construction began on Magic Kingdom® Park at Walt Disney World® Resort, celebrated author Zora Neale Hurston grew up in Eatonville, just 15 minutes north of downtown Orlando. Today, the historic town — one of the first self-governing, all-black communities in the U.S. — honors Hurston’s memory with the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, aka The Hurston, and the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, aka Zora! Festival.

Here’s what you can expect from this multifaceted celebration of education, culture and the arts when it returns to Eatonville.

31st Annual Zora Neale Hurston™ Festival of the Arts and Humanities (Zora!™ Festival)

Jan. 25 – Feb. 2, 2020

First presented in 1990, Zora! Festival is a multi-day, multi-disciplinary, intergenerational event composed of public talks, museum exhibitions, theatrical productions, arts education programming, and a three-day Outdoor Festival of the Arts. The event takes place primarily in Eatonville, Florida (10 miles north of Orlando), and throughout Orange County.

A crowd moves through the Outdoor Festival of the Arts in Historic Eatonville
Credit: The Preserve Eatonville Community

Outdoor Festival of the Arts in Historic Eatonville

Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2020 (Hours Vary)

Few writers of the Harlem Renaissance had a greater impact on the world than Hurston. This event highlights the author’s contributions to African-American culture and her hometown with a combination of activities promoting the importance of education and the arts.

The main festival takes place at Zora’s Village. This special area can be found on the front lawn of the historic Robert Hungerford High School’s campus, which is adjacent to The Hurston. Here, you can enjoy cultural arts and heritage booths, or shop for related merchandise. Admission for students and children is free.

The multi-day outdoor festival features center stage performances by regional and national talent, a Healthy Lifestyles Pavilion, international marketplace and food court, and The Hurston Exhibition. Kids K-12 can also take part in organized STEM activities with Black Orlando Tech (BOT) and a book giveaway from the ZORA! Literacy Initiative.

Presented by the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, Inc. (P.E.C.), a 501(c)3, historic preservation and cultural arts organization, established in 1987

Eatonville and The Hurston Museum

If you can’t make it to Orlando during Zora! Festival, note that historic Eatonville and The Hurston are worth visiting whenever you’re in Orlando.

Handmade baskets at the Zora Festival
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Eatonville was one of hundreds of communities founded by and for African-Americans in the southern U.S. between the 1880s and 1930s, and one of a handful still remaining. Encompassing about 20 acres, the town is home to several buildings that were constructed between 1882 and 1946.

In addition to honoring its namesake, The Hurston provides information about the community and displays work by legendary and emerging artists of African descent. Also available from the museum are tour brochures for the Zora Neale Hurston Trail, which ties Hurston’s writing to 16 sites related to Hurston’s life and 10 markers with her writing.