The Florida Film Festival (late Mar., www.floridafilmfestival.com) happens at the Enzian Theater, and is one of the premier film festivals in the Southeast. The 10-day event not only features a superlative slate of independent and international movies, many of which have their national or regional premieres here, but also has high-profile actors and directors as guests. The FFF recently added a food and wine component, bringing celebrity chefs (2007 featured Anthony Bourdain) and many local restaurants to the table for tastings and unique gastronomic tours of the area.
Downtown Orlando is besieged by hundreds of musicians and music-biz types during the three-day Florida Music Festival (mid-May, www.floridamusicfestival.com). A few well-known acts are interspersed throughout the lineup, which primarily focuses on local and regional bands looking for their shot at the big time.
For years, the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival (mid-May, www.orlandofringe.org) stuck to the format utilized by the original Fringe in Edinburgh; dozens of empty storefronts and other spaces in downtown Orlando were turned into ad hoc theater venues, where an array of out-of-the-mainstream works could be presented in a playful and slightly competitive environment.
Today, the Orlando Fringe retains its dedication to challenging or unusual theater pieces, but the whole affair has been moved to the area in and around Loch Haven Park, mainly utilizing the multiple established theater spaces there. While this circumscribed geography cuts down on the sense of exploration, it has actually made the 12 days of the festival much easier to navigate, allowing both the curious and hardcore theater fans easier access to these interesting works.
It started in 1991 as a form of loosely organized awareness-raising with gay and lesbian folks being encouraged to “wear red and be seen” at Walt Disney World on the first Saturday in June. Today, the annual Gay Days (early June, www.gaydays.com) celebrations last more than a week, bringing nearly 150,000 LGBT and LGBT-friendly visitors to the city. Events both official and unofficial have popped up throughout the city, few of which have anything to do with the ritual red-shirt visit to the Magic Kingdom.
From a convention-like Expo and organized visits to the other Disney parks to comedy shows and all-night dance parties, Gay Days has become an integral part of Orlando’s annual events calendar.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition