A mere twenty-five miles from Orlando is the town of Mount Dora. Established in 1874, Mount Dora has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Today the town is known for its thriving community of artists, its antique shops, the historical buildings in its beautiful downtown, and its annual celebration of art, the Mount Dora Art Festival.
The Mount Dora Art Festival is among the largest events of its kind in all of Florida. Every February over 300,000 visitors come to this weekend event to view the work of close to 300 artists from around the globe. On display and for sale you will find countless watercolors, oil paintings, sculptures and fine-art photographs. Don’t think this is just some quaint local crafts show—Sunshine Artist magazine has ranked the event in their top 100 Art Shows nationwide, and over $21,000 in awards is handed out to the best artists each year. A panel of judges must sort through over 900 applicants to decide whose art is worthy of display. The festival also provides a showcase for regional musicians who perform at the main stage in Donnelly Park . The Mount Dora Art Festival is easily the best known of the many events held annually in downtown Mount Dora.
The Mount Dora Art Festival Offers a Wide Variety
The Art Festival is sponsored by the Mount Dora Center for the Arts , which claims—with considerable justification—that it is the most important cultural event in Central Florida. Admission is free , although the Center does ask that visitors contribute a $1 donation to support the valuable work it does.
Origin of the FestivalThe Festival dates back to 1975, when a small group of artists and their friends decided the town needed an arts festival to showcase the excellent work being done by the area’s talented painters, photographers and other artists. They set aside a portion of each year’s proceeds with the hope of someday being able to build an arts center to promote art in the community year-round. This dream became reality in 1985, and ever since then the Mount Dora Arts Center has stood at 138 E. Fifth Ave. in downtown Mount Dora. During the rest of the year the Center offers classes in art, music and dance for both children and adults.
The Arts Festival is also good for Mount Dora’s attractive downtown, whose restaurants remain open and busy, although visitors can easily get a quick bite at any of a number of food courts within the festival itself. While the Arts Center and the Festival’s organizers are serious about art, the Festival is also a family-friendly event. The children’s tent offers art-related activities for children such as wire sculpting and face painting. There is also a great deal to be said for the location, which offers a spectacular view of Lake Dora .