The Best Festivals in Orlando

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Disney World

The calendar year for Orlando is scattered with exciting festivals for you to enjoy from January through till December!

Here at Debbie’s Villas, we like to keep you up to date with the best experiences in the area. We have selected a variety of festivals situated at the major theme parks, which are included in the ticket price for entry.

Whether you are a foodie, love to experience different music or fancy watching a colourful parade, our selection of top festivals in the area are sure to get you excited!

Mardi Gras at Universal

  • When: 1st February – 2nd April 2020
  • Where: Universal Studios
  • Cost: Free! Included when you purchase an admission ticket to the park.

Prepare for a whole lot of fun, as this year is the 25th annual celebration of the festival at Universal!

You may be familiar with the Mardi Gras festival celebrated on the streets of New Orleans. Well, Universal has brought the festivities to Orlando from February to the beginning of April!

Everything about the festival is aimed at all members of the family to enjoy, including children!

Background on Mardi Gras:

The term ‘Mardi Gras’ is French in origin and translates to ‘Fat Tuesday’, which you may know as Shrove Tuesday. It is a celebration just before the beginning of Lent.

Many people may also associate the festival with the act of throwing coloured beads! The beads come in three colours which each represent the following:

  • Purple = justice
  • Green = faith
  • Gold = power

Table full of Mardi Gras beads in Orlando

What to Expect

Feast your eyes on colourfully dressed performers throughout the resort and get ready for an energetic parade featuring a variety of talented street performers, dancers, stilt walkers and artists! The atmosphere will immerse you in its contagious excitement!

You will no doubt hear some New Orleans-based bands around the park too, with the soothing notes of Jazz music filling the air.

The French Quarter Courtyard tends to be the area dedicated to the festival, and this is where you can find an array of delicious dishes, including Cajun food.

Pose for photos with the Mardi Gras performers at the French Quarter and Universal Music Plaza, as well as collect lots of beads to get involved in the festival.

Music

A significant part of the Mardi Gras festival at Universal is the concert. During 2020, the music concerts are all scheduled to start at 8:30pm, just after the Mardi Gras parade.

The Universal Superstar Parade will also run as usual, at a slightly earlier time of 3pm on the afternoons of the concert shows. This year you can expect to see acts including TLC, Gavin DeGraw, The All American Rejects, Diana Ross and Marshmello!

The concerts are all standing, so we would recommend arriving two to six hours early if you would like to be closer to the stage.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

  • When: 4th March – 1st June 2020
  • Where: Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort
  • Cost: Free! Included when you purchase an admission ticket to the park.

Situated in Epcot, as the name may suggest, this festival is based on all things flora and fauna! Walt Disney World Resort blossoms with beautiful flower displays, many depicting your favourite Disney characters.

What to Expect

The character topiaries can be found in the World Showcase and Future World areas of the park. There are around 100 displays in total, with roughly 75 of these being based on Disney films.

Disney topiaries at Epcot festival

For some extra fun, we would suggest you make the most out of the Festival Passport, which supplies visitors with all the information about the displays, including gardens to visit, menus for the outdoor kitchens, as well as concert times for the Garden Rocks series.

The ‘Harmony Gardens’ is a musical playground and is an excellent suggestion for those visiting the area with children.

The ‘Goodness Garden Butterfly House’ is an enchanting garden which is inspired by delicate butterflies and fairies! The butterfly house is scattered with an array of stunning butterflies and is an ideal spot for a photo.

Music

The Garden Rocks concert series is inspired by the music of the 60s and 70s and was once named the ‘Flower Power’ concert series.

Throughout the duration of the festival, big-name artists will perform live in concert during the evenings! Make sure to check times and dates beforehand to not miss out.

The concerts take place at Epcot’s America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase, and entry is included with regular park admission.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

  • When: Dates for the 2020 festival are yet to be announced. During the previous year, the festival was held at the end of August until November 2019.
  • Where: Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort
  • Cost: Free! Included when you purchase an admission ticket to the park Treating yourself to food and wine will cost extra. You may also have to book any seminars in advance due to availability.

Based in the Epcot World Showcase, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a wonderful display of cuisines from across the world.

What to Expect

Described as one of the most favoured festivals in Epcot, this event offers visitors an array of exclusive food options to try for a limited time, as well as providing guests with food and wine-themed seminars and demonstrations.

Overall, the festival will host over 30 international food stalls in 2020. Here, you can indulge in perfectly ‘tapas-sized’ food portions of the presented regional cuisines. The stands offer a suggested beverage to accompany the dish, which you can also purchase. Don’t forget your ID if you’re wanting something alcoholic!

Food stall at Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Music

The festival explodes in atmosphere, when streets fill with music inspired from across the globe.

The Eat to the Beat! Concert series is also included in park admission and hosts performances from well-known artists, at the America Gardens Theatre. 2020 is set to have the biggest and best line-up ever!

Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival

  • When: Weekends between 29th February - 26th April 2020
  • Where: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  • Cost: Free! Included when you purchase an admission ticket to the park. Tasting will be charged, and usually cost between $3 and $7 per food item.

The Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival is available weekends only and is an ideal experience for those food lovers who are all for trying new and flavoursome dishes.

If you are heading to the theme park ready to experience their fun-filled rides, such as the new Gwazi roller coaster which is set to open this spring, making time to swing by this festival is thoroughly encouraged!

What to Expect

The festival is a hub of delectable dining and provides around 80 different alcoholic beverages for visitors to try. Whether you prefer refreshing cocktails, crafted brews or delicious wines, there are many options for guests to choose from and enjoy while soaking up the Orlando sunshine. Please make sure your designated driver only enjoys non-alcoholic beverages!

The menu is adapted each year, with some firm favourites remaining. Pick a dish to try and a drink to accompany it. It is an endless activity that will guarantee to keep you content throughout the day!

Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival sign

Sampler lanyards

If you are intent on trying as much as possible, you can purchase a sampler lanyard which allows you to pick either 5, 8, 12 or 15 items for tasting.

Tasting Sessions

Again, for an extra cost, you can also attend spirit tasting sessions hosted by experts, including gin, bourbon and tequila!

Music

Included in the admission price, the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival showcases a selection of musical genres including country, rock, Latin and alternative live concerts.

VIP Seating

To ensure you have the smoothest and comfiest time, you can also invest in an extra VIP Seating Package, which includes reserved seating for concerts at the festival, as well as a private bar experience. Again, this will be for an additional cost.

Seven Seas Food Festival at SeaWorld

  • When: 7th February - 3rd May 2020
  • Where: SeaWorld Orlando
  • Cost: Free! Included when you purchase an admission ticket to the park. Food items cost extra.

Another food festival to add to your trip! The Seven Seas Food Festival at SeaWorld is inundated with delicious food stalls for you to try.

What to Expect

With more than 180 dishes to try, it would be very easy to get lost amongst all the delicacies on offer!

Food options range from international cuisines, such as Caribbean and Mediterranean dishes, to locally inspired food options. Beverages such as wine and beer are imported from far and wide, as well as offering local produce.

The food stalls at the festival are available for tastings at weekends on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. You can begin dining at 11am. It is worth bearing in mind that there may be a few stands which open at 11:30am instead.

Sampling Lanyards

Similar to the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival, a sampler lanyard can be purchased at an extra cost. You can choose between trying 10 or 15 items, depending on how much you would like to pay.

Music

The music at the festival will not disappoint, as it is just as magnificently diverse as the food. Expect to hear music inspired by Latin, rock, country and Christian origin!

Concert crowd at SeaWorld's Seven Seas Food Festival

Concerts are on Saturdays and Sundays, commencing at 6pm at the Bayside Stadium. However, we do recommend checking on the day of attendance to keep up to date with any changes.

Reserved Seating

If you would prefer a seat to watch the evening concerts, you can buy reserved seating to ensure you have a comfortable place to sit. So that concludes our overview of Orlando’s best festivals. Which of these fabulous festivals are you excited to attend? We would love to know, so why not contact us on our social media channels?

If you are preparing for your first trip, our handy article offering Tips for Your First Visit to Orlando can provide you with some priceless advice for your holiday!

If you are currently in the process of choosing your accommodation and would like to stay close to the main theme parks in Orlando, why not stay with Debbie’s Villas? We have an extensive range of family accommodation, including villas near Disney and Universal Studios!

For more information on the options available at Debbie’s Villas, do not hesitate to get in contact. Give us a call on 01892 836822 or drop us an email at info@debbiesvillas.co.uk. Alternatively, you can visit our social media channels and learn more about who we are and what we offer.

Image credits:

  • Food stall at Epcot Food and Wine Festival: CC by Michael Gray
  • Mardi Gras beads: CC by Steven Miller
  • Busch Gardens sign: Busch Gardens socials
  • Crowd photo: SeaWorld website