Orlando commemorates and celebrates African American history and culture in February during Black History Month as well as year-round. Visitors and locals alike can enjoy musical celebrations, live performances and festivals alongside year-round cultural attractions and tours through historic towns and landmarks. Additional information on Orlando’s Black History Month events can be found at VisitOrlando.com.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS
Festivals and Concerts
- Orlando Mayor’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission will present the 7th Annual MLK Concert: “Promised Land”, A Gospel/Spiritual Spectacular (Feb. 27) at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Directed by Grammy Award-winner Dr. Jeffery Redding with Dr. Kelly Miller and Dr. Terrance Lane, the concert will feature performances from the University of Central Florida’s gospel singers, women’s choir, local high schools and more.
- The Sanford Jazz Ensemble Black History Month Concert (Feb. 6) at The Ritz Theater will feature music of The Drifters; The Coasters; The Chantells; The Beatles; Jay & the Americans; The Diamonds; The Del-Vikings; Dion and the Belmonts; Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers; The Silhouettes; The Cadillacs; The Shirelles; The Duprees; Bill Haley & His Comets; The Crests and more.
- The 3rd Annual 1619 Fest Orlando (Feb. 12-13) in Historic Hannibal Square will feature local performers, vendors, workshops and more. This year’s theme is Maafa to Freedom: Surviving, Thriving, Resilience. The nationwide celebration of 1619 is a remembrance of over 400 years of African descendant’s perseverance and struggle through the institutions of slavery and racism in America.
Theater and the Arts
- The Orlando Repertory Theatre (Orlando REP), in partnership with UCF, will present Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (through Feb. 20), a musical highlighting the legendary reggae artist’s timeless message of peace and love, featuring the timeless music of Bob Marley and based on the children’s book by his daughter, Cedella Marley.
- Winter Garden’s historic Garden Theater’s The Mountaintop (now – Feb. 6) presents a stunning imagining of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on Earth.
- The Winter Park Playhouse presents Trav'lin: A 1930s Harlem Musical Romance (now – Feb. 19). This funny, heartfelt musical looks at love during the 1930s Jazz Age with a tuneful score by Harlem Renaissance composer J.C. Johnson, whose songs were recorded by legends such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.
- The Dr. Phillip’s Center for the Performing Arts will present Voices of Freedom & Justice: An Evening of Spoken Word Poetry with Shawn Welcome, City of Orlando Poet Laureate (Feb. 11), featuring a rarely seen and heard 90-minute interactive showcase with emerging local high school talents.
- The Timucua Arts Foundation will host Open House: Black Thoughts – Embracing Emotions Through Authentic Poetry (Feb. 13) featuring local poets Juaquina She, Pat Turna and Lauren White.
HISTORIC TOWNS AND YEAR-ROUND AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS
- Downtown Orlando offers a rich source of African American history and culture:
- The Orange County Regional History Center features a permanent African American history exhibit highlighting the triumphs and tragedies of African Americans in Central Florida’s past, along with luminous paintings of Florida’s Highwaymen, a group of acclaimed African American landscape artists.
- The historic Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture features Civil Rights artifacts, memorabilia of Orlando’s African American community and other displays.
- Eatonville, a historic town located 15 minutes north of downtown Orlando, was incorporated in 1887, making it one of the first self-governing, all-Black municipalities in the U.S. — and the oldest still in existence today.
- Visitors will find a collection of restaurants, historical sites and museums, including the Moseley House Museum, the second oldest structure in the town featuring exhibits and early memorabilia of the town, St. Lawrence A.M.E. Church, one of America's most Historic African American churches and one of the first in the area, in addition to the Rise Mural Project, celebrating the culture, history and future of Eatonville.
- American Folklorist Zora Neale Hurston grew up in Eatonville and is honored by the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, providing gallery space for artists of African descent. Today, the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, aka ZORA!® Festival, a multifaceted celebration of Hurston, the arts, culture and education, offers a series of engaging events throughout the year including the a signature three-day, open-air Outdoor Festival of the Arts, taking place June 4-5.
- Historic Hannibal Square, a community founded for black families in 1881, is home to the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, which allows visitors to explore the district’s origins and offers guided walking tours of the “West Winter Park,” describing the hardships and the triumphs of the African American community from the 1900 to the present, along with its historic landmarks. On the weekends guests can experience great vendors, free yoga, food and music during the SOKO Marketplace in historic Hannibal Square, held every Saturday from 8-11 a.m. All Marketplace proceeds go to sustain small businesses and support the development of culturally relevant programming for the historic African American community of Hannibal Square.
- Located in Orlando’s tourism corridor on International Drive, Bronze Kingdom African Art Gallery boasts the world’s largest collection of rare African bronze statues, plus beaded and wood sculptures — more than 2,000 pieces in all.
- Diversitastic! Dining: Africa, an African dining experience hosted by Serengeti Restaurant inside Bronze Kingdom on International Drive, will feature a full-course menu, drinks, live entertainment, storytelling and more.
- Guests visiting Orlando can support a variety of Black-owned restaurants and other businesses all year long. From sweet treats at Orlando’s newest doughnut shop, Pattie Lou’s Donuts, offering freshly made doughnuts to build-your-own delicious creation, to flavorful dishes at highly-rated Nikki’s Place. Guests can enjoy a plethora of options throughout Orlando’s neighborhood and discover more the destination’s black-owned businesses through the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida’s website.
About Visit Orlando
Visit Orlando is The Official Tourism Association® for Orlando, the most visited destination in the United States and Theme Park Capital of the World®. Visit Orlando connects consumers with every segment of Central Florida’s travel community, whether for a vacation or meeting. Home to seven of the world’s top theme parks — as well as refreshing water parks, outdoor thrill rides, activities to connect with nature, and a dynamic dining and entertainment scene — Orlando is welcoming to travelers of all ages. With 450 hotels, visitors have choices that span multi-acre resorts to themed boutique hotels. Orlando’s trusted theme parks, attractions, hotels and businesses have developed comprehensive safety measures and worked closely with medical experts to create safe travel experiences. Find more information at VisitOrlando.com.