A year in Orlando

Disney loves creating special events that cause its cash registers to sing and one of the more popular ones is Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival (www.disneyworld.com/flower; 407-824-4321; 1320 Avenue of the Stars, Lake Buena Vista, 32830), scheduled March 19-June 1, 2008. Now in its 15th year, the event delights gardeners and floral fanciers with a celebration of color and creativity showcasing millions of flowers, thousands of plants, a butterfly garden and more than 70 topiaries including leafy versions of Capt. Hook, Pirate Mickey, Beauty and the Beast, and others. Lecturers, hands-on seminars and nightly concerts by Paul Revere and the Raiders, Peter and Gordon, Davy Jones, Herman's Hermits and others are part of the action. The event is included in normal theme park admission, $71 for adults, $60 for kids 3-9.

The LPGA's Ginn Open (www.ginnopen.com; 407-662-1700; 7714 Excitement Dr., Reunion, 34747) is one of several golf tournaments that have made Orlando a popular pro golf stop from mid fall through mid spring. This one has the women's tour on the Tom Watson- and Arnold Palmer-designed courses at the Reunion Resort. Gate tickets are $20-$30 daily or $50-80 for the full event.

Dessert lovers can celebrate one of the country's favorites at the Great American Pie Festival (407-566-2200; www.piecouncil.org/great.htm; Lakeside Park, Celebration, 34747), April 18-20. This is a wonderful excuse to add to your recipe book as well as your waistline. The weekend is all about pies—how to make them and bake them as well as a ton of other fun including children's games, cooking demonstrations and, uh-oh, a pie-eating contest. If you dare, you can gorge yourself at a never-ending pie buffet that offers pies, ice cream and toppings (about $10). The weekend also includes the APC Crisco National Pie Championship. Winners will be honored April 20. General admission is free.


Anyone looking for a chance to let their cultural hair down has the welcome mat waiting from the Orlando International Fringe Festival (www.orlandofringe.org; 407-648-0077; 398 W. Amelia St., Orlando, 32801). This annual celebration allows you to inhale the visual and performing arts, while rubbing elbows with bankers, beatniks and virtually everyone in between. Scheduled May 15-26, the Fringe is a collision of art, music and theater that ranges from Shakespeare to sword swallowing to satire. Although some shows are adults-only, there also are several for kids. Past offerings include Acting 101 and clay creations. Admission varies but most events are $10 or under. The schedule includes venues scattered around downtown.

More than 250 up-and-coming musicians, filmmakers and visual artists are featured May 14-17 at downtown Orlando's Florida Music Festival (www.floridamusicfestival.com; Church Street, Orlando, 32801). The non-stop party takes control of a three-block chunk of real estate with music ranging from pop and country to hip-hop and alternative. The festival also presents the Indie Film Jam, an international competition that features documentaries, short subjects and artist videos. The art show includes charcoal sketches, photography and paintings. The fun is at multiple sites around downtown's Church Street. Admission is $10-$15.

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