Since 1960, the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival has been one of Orlando’s cultural highlights. The Winter Park Art Festival has grown into one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most prestigious juried outdoor art festivals attracting as many as 225 artists literally from around the world. The number of applicants normally exceeds 1,200.
Regardless of how far artists need to travel, exhibiting is worth the effort. The festival attracts as many as 350,000 attendees to what is considered the Best Fine Art and Design Show in the southeast. As a result, the caliber of artists far exceeds most outdoors arts shows.
The three-day festival, held the third week of each March, has been praised by The National Endowment for the Arts and other prestigious organizations for advancing art and art education in the Orlando area. The extensive categories featured include clay, digital art, drawings and pastels, fiber, glass, graphics & printmaking, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media 2D, mixed media 3D, painting, photography, sculpture, watercolor and wood.
The art exhibits are concentrated along Park Avenue and in the city’s Central Park. Because some of the Winter Park attendees liked to stroll through the art show with their leashed dogs, which sometimes fought other dogs or left unappreciated deposits, dogs are not allowed in the art festival area.
When to Go
Friday is the least crowded day with Friday morning the best time both to cherry pick the offerings and talk with the artists. Surprisingly, curly fries are a signature of the festival, with concession vendors spread out along Park Avenue if you have the munchies. They are judged, too, so they surpass the fare offered at typical fast food stands.
Musical entertainment is offered all three days. It begins Friday in the late afternoon and at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The varied acts often include jazz singers, classical performers, brass bands and more. As many as 20 acts perform over the three days.
A Children’s Workshop Village on Saturday and Sunday encourages young artists to try their skills at easel painting. Other hands-on activities are also offered. Attendance is free and artists can take home their creations.
Festival hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. Full information including parking directions and a park map are available at the Winter Park Sidewalk Arts Festival website.