The latest Orlando happenings updated weekly using information provided by partners and destination press releases. Stay up to date on Orlando's most recent announcements and openings from accommodations and attractions to restaurants and more.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
Orlando is ranked second among 2021's Best Cities for Thanksgiving, according to a recent study from the personal finance outlet, WalletHub.com.
TripAdvisor and Visit Orlando came together to create a fully immersive audio tourism experience using Amazon’s Alexa voice technology. The new Alexa skill utilizes TripAdvisor's community-powered content to inspire and drive tourism demand for Orlando. The experience highlights undiscovered activities throughout the destination's neighborhoods. To access the TripAdvisor-powered Orlando experience on your Alexa device or app, simply say: “Alexa, launch Visit Orlando.”
Fairmont Orlando, a new Fairmont Hotels & Resorts-branded hotel, is slated to open in early 2025 in the heart of Orlando’s entertainment district. The new seven-story property is expected to include 550 rooms; seven elevated dining experiences, including a specialty Mediterranean restaurant, an upscale steakhouse and gourmet cafe; a 12,000-square-foot spa and wellness center; more than 44,000 square feet of meeting space; and three swimming pools.
JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa's new collection of family suites offers exclusive amenities and boasts two separate rooms with kid-approved loft beds, whimsical design elements and interactive surprises, including chalkboard walls and a book nook. Booking is now open for family suites and rates start at $999.
The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will debut Steinmetz Hall, one of the world’s acoustically perfect spaces, on Jan. 14, 2022. The Grand Celebration Season will kick off with two weeks of events, including performances from over 250 regional artists, pairing the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with the Royal Ballet, Jennifer Hudson, Leon Bridges, Lyle Lovett, the Bach Festival Choir, the world premiere of Duke Ellington's Brown and more.
In honor of Veteran's Day on Nov. 11, Gatorland is offering free admission for the entire month of November for all U.S. veterans, active and retired military personnel with Valid ID presented at the admission gate, plus 20% off for up to four family members.
WonderWorks Orlando will celebrate National STEM Day by offering labs throughout the building exploring different scientific concepts such as the principles of press, temperature, density, origami and more.
The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra (OPO) presents the annual Young People’s Concert virtually into homes and schools for the second year from Nov. 15-19. This year’s program, “Bach to the Future: Scaling the Musical Eras One Tune at a Time,” features musicians from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, dancers from the Orlando Ballet and singers from Opera Orlando.
Discovery Cove will offer early Black Friday savings of up to 50% off reservations to visit the all-inclusive day resort. The savings event, which starts now and runs through Nov. 26, 2021, is valid for visits through Dec. 31, 2022. New this year is the addition of special savings of 30% on luxury day beds and up to 30% savings on the SeaVenture underwater walking tour.
Gatorland will host CrocFest 2021 for the first time on December 11. The fundraising event for crocodiles in peril will support the release and satellite tracking of a group of Venezuela’s critically endangered Orinoco crocodile. Tickets, which include dinner and drinks, are a $30 donation for adults, $10 for students ages 5 to 17 and free for children under 5.
Museum of Illusions Orlando has been transformed for the holidays offering a fun backdrop to capture holiday memories, with many of the museum’s iconic rooms now reimagined for the holiday season. The Ames Room exhibit has transformed to depict the inside of Santa’s workshop; the Color Room exhibit is adorned full of gingerbread cookies; the Head On The Plate exhibit is the focal point of a dinner table decorated in Christmas décor and desserts; and the lobby of the Museum sets the stage with full holiday décor.
DINING & NIGHTLIFE
Cantina Catrina, an authentic Mexican scratch-kitchen restaurant concept, will open its first Orlando restaurant in The Florida Mall this winter. The 220-seat restaurant will be open for lunch, dinner, weekend brunch and late-night dining, and offer indoor and outdoor covered-patio dining.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress will open Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen this December. The restaurant, from the Top Chef All-Stars winner, will feature cuisine inspired by tropical flavors and ingredients from Florida, including native fruits, vegetables, seafood and more.
The BANDBOX – Orlando, Central Florida’s first alcohol-free cocktail tasting lounge and package shop, will open in spring 2022 at Ivanhoe Village. The lounge’s menu will feature non-alcoholic (NA) cocktails curated by both in-house and local mixologists; booze-free wines, beers, aperitifs, bitters, shrubs, tonics, CBD sodas both for consumption and for sale; along with vintage and collectible goods.
Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews, a restaurant and bar filled with classic cars, trucks and motorcycles, opened in Kissimmee. Notorious for offering a robust and innovative menu of 50 burgers and beers, the family-friendly restaurant is the first location in the southern U.S.
EVENTS & FESTIVALS
The Electric Daisy Carnival will celebrate its 25th year with the best in electronic dance music, full-size carnival rides, performers and art. EDC Orlando will take place at Tinker Field Nov. 12-14.
FusionFest will return Nov. 27-28. Cultures from all across the world will fill the Frontyard Festival™ in front of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for a free, two-day, multicultural festival, drawing people from more than 100 different cultures to experience music, dance, food, visual arts, games and interactive activities. Over 1,000 local artists will perform and showcase their work on the stages, gallery and interactive installations.
During SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, over 3 million sparkling lights will shine throughout the park. Festivities include live performances, seasonal food and meet-and-greets with Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. New for 2021: the littlest guests can sing and dance with their favorite Sesame Street characters during Elmo’s Christmas Wish Show while Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Finale features soaring fountains, dazzling lights and fireworks.
Taverna Opa will host a New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31. The $85-per-person entry fee will include family-style appetizers; a surf and turf entrée; and the chance to enjoy dancing, a live DJ and entertainment. Advanced reservations are required.
The Mall at Millenia will kick off the holiday season with its Welcome Santa Weekend, Nov. 13-14, featuring holiday fun with Hollyville characters, stilt walkers, and a DJ to ring in the season. The Santa Photo Experience will return Nov. 10 – Dec. 24, offering distanced Santa visits.
Walt Disney World Resort announced new details for the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth, including the return of “JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season,” featuring music celebrating Christmas and Kwanzaa. The “Candlelight Processional” at America Gardens Theatre features the Voices of Liberty along with a choir of Disney Cast Members and hearing the traditional Christmas story told by a celebrity narrator. The lineup of narrators for 2021 includes award-winning actors, singers, and television hosts along with two Disney princesses.
Camping World Stadium will host the 2021 Florida Blue Florida Classic, the annual rivalry game between the Florida A&M University Rattlers and the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats, on November 20. Tickets start at $22 while supplies last.
ICEBAR Orlando's Hollywood New Year’s Eve Bash will take place on Friday, Dec. 31 starting at 8 p.m. The Hollywood-themed evening will feature casino games, live DJ entertainment, ice sculptures, free digital souvenir photos, raffle giveaways and a special “celebrity” guest Britney Spears impersonator.
Enzian is showcasing a series of holiday movies and events for its 12 Days of Christmas celebration throughout December. The lineup features programs for all ages and includes a free screening in Central Park, 35mm Cult Classics and Holiday Weekday Matinees. Eden Bar will also be featuring select holiday cocktails.