In 1983, legislation was passed making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday. The first nationwide observance of this day did not happen until 1986. Since then, MLK Day has been a celebration of community and coming together and a day of activism and volunteering. Cities and towns all across the country celebrate this day and Orlando is no different. If you are looking for something to do during the MLK weekend, we have compiled a great list of fun activities in the Orlando area and surrounding cities.
Celebrate Martin Luther King Day in Orlando
Here are 20 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Day in Orlando.
Apopka 4th Annual Dr. Martin Lither King Jr. Parade
Apopka is hosting its fourteenth annual MLK Parade on Monday, January 16. The parade route will begin at 519 South Central Avenue and end at the John H. Bridges Community Center. The theme of the parade this year is “Together, We Can Make a Difference.” All the fun and festivities will begin at 2 pm.
Chasing the Dream 5K – MLK Day Celebration
Don’t feel like attending a parade? Then try the Chasing the Dream 5K MLK Celebration. Register for the race and join plenty of folks from your community on Monday, January 16 to run for equality and unity. The event will be held in real time and virtually for those that want to participate but are unable to make it in person. The race’s starting point will be in Orlando at 2501 General Rees Avenue. Make this a family event and bring the children too!
City of Kissimmee MLK Unity Celebration
Bring your family and join the Kissimmee community as a whole to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. at the Unity Celebration on January 14 from noon to 5 pm. The celebration will feature live performances from local artists as well as food trucks, community vendors, and the KUA Kids Power Zone. The Unity Garden will be there as well. Bring the whole family down to Kissimmee Lakefront Park for a fun-filled day.
City of Lakeland Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade
Every city is having something to honor the memory of Dr. King, and the city of Lakeland is no exception. Join residents and the community at large on Saturday, January 21 for the LMLK Parade. The Lakeland MLK parade starts at 1 pm. The theme this year is “Our History is Our Future” and marching in the parade this year will be community groups like child care centers, local fraternities and sororities, businesses, and others from the area. Follow along the parade route and at the end, enjoy some of the planned festivities in the afternoon.
Great Books for Kids to Learn about MLK
I am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Change the World)
My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Kid’s Book About Advancing Civil Rights With Nonviolence (Mini Movers and Shakers)
Black Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement: A Black History Book for Kids (Biographies for Kids)
Last Stop on Market Street
City of Ocoee MLK Jr. Unity Parade
The city of Ocoee will be hosting their MLK Jr. Unity Parade on January 16. The parade will begin at 10 am, launch from the Citrus Elementary School, and end at the West Oaks Mall. Stay at the mall to hear inspirational speeches and the keynote speaker. After the presentations, Parks and Recreation will provide a shuttle back to Citrus Elementary for vehicle pickup.
City of Sanford Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 2023 Celebration
The theme of this year’s MLK Celebration in Sanford is “Women of the Movement – Hidden Gems of Sanford.” The celebration is a four-day event culminating with a parade and festival in the park on January 16. The parade starts at 10 am on Historic Goldsboro Boulevard. The festival will immediately follow the parade at Fort Mellon Park. There will be food vendors, kid-friendly fun, and music too.
City of Winter Park Unity Heritage Festival MLK Jr. Celebration
The annual two-day event is back! The Unity Heritage Festival MLK Celebration in Winter Park will begin on January 15 at Shady Park in Hannibal Square at 1 pm. There will be special activities for the entire family like children’s games, career booths, food, and vendors, with job training and readiness. On Monday, January 16, there will be more community programs and activities as well as more fun things for the kiddos and family to enjoy.
Downtown Orlando Annual MLK Holiday Parade
Join residents and the Southwest Orlando Jaycees on Saturday, January 14 for the annual Downtown Orlando MLK Holiday Parade. The parade will start at 10 am and will be followed by fun family festivities such as games, comedians, music, and more. The parade route starts downtown Orlando at the Downtown Orlando Courthouse and goes to Lake Eola Park. It is sure to become a family tradition for years to come.
First Annual MLK Car Show in Lakeland
Come out to this free community event in Lakeland on January 22 from noon to 6 pm. The MLK Car Show will be held at the Lakeland Coleman – Bush Building on MLK Boulevard. Bring your cars all decked out and show the community how much work you have put into them! There will be first, second, and third prizes for best paint, interior, and even best stereo. Bring the kiddos out to enjoy this event.
Florida Tech 2023 MLK Commemoration
Florida Tech is hosting its 2023 MLK Commemoration Ceremony on January 19 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. Located in Melbourne in Brevard County, Florida Tech’s celebration is best for older elementary school and high school children. During the evening event, there will be a live rendition of the “I Have a Dream” speech by Leonard Ross as well as a keynote speaker. In honor of Dr. King’s legacy, the school will honor two local community leaders for their commitment to the community, building bridges, and empowering others.
MLK Great Day of Service Volunteer Opportunities
MLK Day is not just a day off, but a time for us to think about our community as a whole. The City of Orlando is offering volunteer opportunities through the Green Up and Keep Orlando Beautiful programs including chances to clean up various areas throughout the city, provide gardening landscaping, even help to beautify homes.
National Parks Free Entrance for MLK Birthday
Enjoy a fun filled day with the kiddos and the entire family at any national park in Florida. On January 16, all national parks in the state of Florida will have free entry. The fee-free day will allow the family to visit one of the eleven national parks in Florida as part of a new family tradition or a continuation of an old one. Choose to visit a park nearby or visit one that was on a list of things to do. The national parks in Florida, Big Cypress, Biscayne, Canaveral, Castillo de San Marcos, DeSoto, Dry Tortugas, Everglades, Fort Caroline, Fort Mantanzas, Gulf Islands, and Timucuan offer a chance for volunteer opportunities as well as help to keep the park beautiful and other projects too.
Orange County Library “I Have a Dream” Event
Visit the Orlando Public Library and attend their annual “I Have a Dream” event. This year, it will be held at the Chickasaw branch on January 12 from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Celebrate the life of Dr. King by making crafts inspired your child’s own dreams all while learning the importance of peace and togetherness. Registration is required for this event which is better suited for elementary school children.
Oviedo Citizens in Action Parade
The city of Oviedo Citizens in Action Parade will take place on Monday, January 16 at 10 am. The parade will start at Oviedo High School and will end at Round Lake Park. Following the parade, the “Fun Day Celebration” will commence at Round Lake Park. Everyone is invited to join the celebration for a fun day of unity and pride in the community.
Town of Eatonville MLK Parade Celebration
What a wonderful place to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King! Eatonville, Florida is the first incorporated all-black city in the nation and they are hosting the forty-sixth annual Eatonville Martin Luther King Jr. Parade Celebration on Saturday, January 14 at 2 pm. After the parade, stay and enjoy music, family-friendly events, food trucks, and other vendors. Make it a full day and take a tour of Eatonville and see some of the historic locations around town.
Winter Garden MLK Parade and Live Concert
The Winter Garden MLK Parade and Live Concert will be held on Monday, January 16. This full-day celebration starts with a parade at 10 am along Plant Street. The music, food, and fun will commence around 10:30 am at the Downtown Pavilion. It will include live performances, kid-friendly activities, and food vendors too.