Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad and Happy Holidays! Congratulations Orlando, you’ve made it through another year in the City Beautiful. In 2022 we shared festivals, fundraisers, galas, grand openings, marathons and so much more together. Now the countdown to 2023 is just days away and it’s time to start looking ahead to the future. As we jingle all the way into the new year, let’s take a moment to recap some of the most recent events that took place first. Here are all the highlights, just in case you missed it!
From October 27th – November 3rd, the Orlando Film Festival took over Downtown Orlando to the delight of film enthusiasts from every corner of The City Beautiful. Remaining true to their stance on being a film festival for filmmakers by filmmakers, this year the Orlando Film Festival celebrated 17 Years of Indie Cinema by screening over 300 films from around the world at the CMX Plaza Cinema Cafe in beautiful Downtown Orlando. With 8 days of movies, panels, parties and more, the mission of the Orlando Film Festival is to support and promote the arts in Downtown Orlando through the medium of film. Through creative, unique and entertaining events, The Orlando Film Festival inspired and celebrated filmmakers while enhancing the movie viewing experience for all.
On November 3rd, luxury car lovers from across the country kicked off an exciting weekend of Festival of Speed activities by attending a luxury lifestyle cocktail reception at Fields BMW of Winter Park. Sponsored in part by yours truly, Orlando Style Magazine, the glamorous evening featured multiple premium brand open bars with rare scotch & bourbon stations; exquisite appetizers of crab cakes, bacon wrapped meatballs and spring rolls; and fantastic food stations including everything from a whole roasted pig to a wok station. Guests of the reception also enjoyed music, fine jewelry, collectible timepieces, men’s and ladies’ fashion, fine art, exotic car displays, a charity auction, and much more.
Central Florida’s longest-running tradition returned for its 51st year! Located in the heart of downtown, Fall Fiesta in the Park is held on the first full weekend of every November. From 5th-6th, the beloved event brought family and pet friendly arts and entertainment to downtown Orlando while promoting local urban development in the City of Orlando, and through the Orlando Community & Youth Trust. The Lake Eola fall show has consistently been one of the most attended shows in central Florida with hundreds of amazing artists, crafters, and food vendors taking over the streets around Lake Eola Park to enjoy the fall time weather and create community through beautiful art.
The 13th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel returned from November 11th-12th and offered unlimited tastings of culinary and beverage selections from the hotel’s award-winning restaurants. Along with a vast array of food and beverage options came two premium events: an all-new VIP Champagne & Dessert Party and the return of the Master Sommelier-led Grand Tasting. For the first time in the event’s history, the VIP champagne and dessert reception allowed guests to enjoy champagne and sparkling wines paired with the hotel’s award-winning desserts, all while watching Walt Disney World’s nighttime spectaculars. The exclusive, limited-space Grand Tasting returned for the first time since 2019, featuring a champagne reception and three flights of elite wines curated by Master Sommelier John Blazon – the former Wine Director for Walt Disney World Resort.
On November 12th, the charity-focused culinary festival Cows ‘n Cabs (CNC) returned to Winter Park for their 10th annual event. Cows ‘n Cabs is a country-themed evening full of delicious high-end food, specialty wine and spirits, and craft beer. Curated by ABC Fine Wine & Spirits’ David Larue and Chef John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Cows ‘n Cabs is one of Central Florida’s best food and wine tasting events. The wildly popular fundraiser benefits local charities while highlighting Central Florida’s culinary talent. Hay bales, corn husks and a live country band set the tone as attendees donned their best cowboy duds to sip and sample fare from some of Orlando’s best chefs and wine/beer vendors. One hundred percent of ticket sale proceeds and auction items benefitted charities supporting children in Central Florida including After School All Stars and 4 Roots.
It’s that time of year again! Presented by Council of 101, The Festival of Trees returned to the Orlando Museum of Art for its 36th year to fill the halls with all the best that Christmas has to offer from extravagant, designer-decorated trees and breathtaking displays of wreaths to tabletop trees and gingerbread masterpieces. From November 12th-20th, each day was filled with thrills and joy as families, singles and friends came to see the daily entertainment, get an early start on their holiday shopping, enter exciting chances to win prizes, enjoy a quick bite to eat at the Festival Cafe and much more. Events complimenting the festivities included an opening night black-tie optional gala and tree lighting, Breakfast with Santa, a children’s Reindeer Romp Party and the special family weekend focus highlighting an ugly sweater red carpet walk and competition.
On November 15th, a pair of celebrity vampires came to Orlando to share their favorite drink with fans and surprise, surprise… it wasn’t blood! Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, stars of the supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries, have a shared passion for bourbon—both on-screen and off-screen—that led to the duo developing and releasing their own brand of whiskey appropriately titled Brothers Bond Bourbon. Guests of the exclusive cocktail party held at Walt Disney World Swan Reserve were invited to enjoy a Brother’s Bond Bourbon specialty cocktail crafted by the stars. Ready to try the bourbon yourself? Brother’s Bond Bourbon can be purchased at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and other distributors near you. Visit www.brothersbondbourbon.com to learn more and to view cocktail recipes developed by Ian and Paul.
The 5th Annual FusionFest Multicultural Festival was held the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving Day in Downtown Orlando to the delight of many! The free, two-day festival draws people from more than 110 different cultures to experience music, dance, food, visual arts, spoken word, games and interactive activities. FusionFest Inc. is a nonprofit organization with the mission to celebrate the people and the many different cultures that make Central Florida awesome by showcasing talents, sharing stories, driving innovation and building community based on respect and understanding. FusionFest is a project of the Orange County Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.