Taking place the last week of January each year in Eatonville and throughout Orange County, Florida, this multi-day, multi-disciplinary event celebrates the life and work of 20th century writer, folklorist and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston, her hometown, Eatonville, the nation’s oldest incorporated African American municipality and the contributions people of African ancestry have made to the United States and world culture.
Attracting thousands of locals and tourists, ZORA! Festival presents an impressive roster of arts, humanities and cultural programming. The event is a nine-day affair, featuring museum exhibitions, public talks, panel discussions, workshops and concerts. It culminates with a three-day weekend Street Festival of the Arts, which features the ZORA! Literacy Initiative, a program offering a new, free, age-appropriate book to children and youths, toddlers to age 17; Children’s Corner, providing space for hands-on activities for youngsters, from Pre-K to grade 5; Words and Voices, where authors and their audiences celebrate the joy of the spoken and written word; Center Stage, featuring performances by local, regional and national acts; Juried Art Lane, presenting fine artists with their original artwork in competition for cash prizes; and an International Marketplace, where visitors may purchase wares from around the world.
The Festival has featured luminaries such as actors, the late Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Cicely Tyson, Danny Glover and Richard Roundtree; vocalists Al Jarreau and Jeffrey Osborne; writer, Alice Walker; poets Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka and Ntozake Shange; distinguished scholars Dr. John Hope Franklin and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
The Festival positions Central Florida as not only an entertainment mecca, but also a viable arts and cultural center. In a city where visitors have countless entertainment options, cultural tourists are choosing ZORA! Festival, where the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau reports over 80% of the out-of-town attendees come to the Orlando area solely for this event.
Voted “One of the 25 Cultural Tourism Success Stories in the United States” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2001 and “One of the Top 100 Events in North America for 2004” by the American Bus Association