Prevue asked Tammi Runzler, Visit Orlando’s Senior VP of Convention Sales & Services, her thoughts on culture and creativity trends for 2011.
Q: What are some creative ways planners can use Orlando to create special events?
A: The same spirit of creativity that helped develop the destination’s famed theme attractions has also produced a thriving arts and cultural scene, which planners can incorporate into their programs. A great planner organizes for the group, but with individual tastes in mind, which fits right in with Orlando’s diversity of cultural options for every taste and price range.
Q: What are some popular festivals that planners can tie in with group programs?
A: Because we have great weather all year round, festivals take place all year too! Some of the annual events include the Bach Festival, Florida Film Festival, Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, and the inaugural Orlando Calling music festival in November.
Q: What are some cultural venues popular for group events?
A: There are many unique venues to choose from, like the CityArts Factory, Enzian Theater, Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando Science Center, SAK Comedy Lab, as well as the Orange County Regional History Center
Q: What are some signature musical venues?
A: Our new Amway Center, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary, brings many concerts and shows to downtown Orlando. Other great live music venues include the House of Blues, B.B. Kings Restaurant & Blues Club, The Plaza and Hard Rock Live, which all offer space for group events. And we just broke ground on the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, with an anticipated opening date in early 2014.
Q: What are some signature food items and/or restaurants relating to the spirit of the destination?
A: Orlando provides an extensive menu of fine dining establishments, accessible international eateries, casual cafés and chic wine bars. You can find casual Southern-cooked meals to a luxurious chef’s-table experience. You can also sample cuisine from just about anywhere in the world, including Ethiopian, Cuban, Brazilian, Argentinean, Moroccan, Turkish, Norwegian, Russian, Colombian, Lebanese, Peruvian and Indonesian dishes.
Q: Are there any creative arts/dining districts that attendees should scope out?
A: Yes, if you want to combine cocktails, conversation and culture, there are several areas of town that are must-sees. The neighborhoods of downtown Orlando offer a broad spectrum of culinary and cultural experiences, including the “Mills 50” district with more than a dozen Vietnamese and Asian restaurants. Or check out Winter Park north of downtown, a quaint city known for its tree-lined streets, art museums and fine dining.