When it comes to putting on spectacular events, Universal Orlando Resort doesn't hold back. Universal Studios Florida has long been home to one of the nation's premier events — Halloween Horror Nights (which unfortunately has been canceled this year).
If scary isn't your style, you'll find other year-round, family-friendly Universal Orlando events such as Mardi Gras and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Our frog family leaps at the chance to experience as many of the annual events as we can, and we know yours will too!
You'll find all of the Universal Orlando events listed on our Crowd Calendar, which is the easiest way to see the best times to visit. Note: These Universal Orlando Resort events appear in the order that they are held throughout the year. We don't yet have confirmed dates for all of the 2020 and 2021 events, but we'll be adding them to this page as soon as they become available!
Complete Guide to Universal Orlando Resort Events in 2020 and 2021
Rock the Universe (Universal Studios Florida) — Postponed Until January 2022
A separately ticketed special event, Rock the Universe is Florida's biggest Christian music festival. Universal moved the dates of this event from September to February for 2019, and it will once again return January 2022 (the 2021 event has been canceled). Universal Studios Florida closes at 6 p.m. for the event, but guests with concert tickets are able to enter the park starting at 4 p.m. The 2020 Friday lineup included performances from Switchfoot, Newsboys United, Tenth Avenue North, Tauren Wells and Tedashii and The Afters, and the Saturday lineup included performances from Chris Tomlin, TobyMac, Bethel Music, We Are Messengers, Unspoken and I Am They.
FEBRUARY - MAY
Running Universal (Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure)
Universal Orlando Resort hosted its first-ever Epic Character Race 5K and 10K weekend in 2020. We ran through the theme parks, met our favorite characters along the way and earned a toadally awesome medal! Check out our review of the first race weekend at Universal Orlando. No future races have been announced quite yet, but we're hopful there are more to come in 2021!
Mardi Gras (Universal Studios Florida) — February to April 2021
This Universal Orlando rite of passage takes place each spring on select dates at Universal Studios. Highlights of this family-friendly event include the Mardi Gras parade through the park and live concerts. With flashy floats created by Kern Studios, the company that has created Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans since 1947, this event is as authentic as it gets (while still remaining kid-friendly)! You can check out authentic New Orleans bands. Plus, there are Universal Studios concerts from big names in rock, pop, country and more! There are always plenty of Cajun food and drinks to fill you up too. Check out our tips for Mardi Gras at Universal Studios so you can start planning for next year's event. Note that event dates and hoppenings are subject to change as Universal continues to monitor the current health environment.
Mardi Gras 2020 Lineup
Details about the 2021 concert lineup have not been released yet. But below is the list of performers from the most recent Mardi Gras event:
- Feb. 1: The Roots
- Feb. 8: Karol G
- Feb. 15: Bell Biv DeVoe
- Feb. 16: +Live+
- Feb. 22: Kool & the Gang
- Feb. 29: TLC
- March 7: REO Speedwagon
- March 8: Dustin Lynch
- March 13: Luis Fonsi
- March 14: Flo Rida
- March 15: Sugar Ray
Canceled due to COVID-19:
- March 20: Chris Young
- March 21: Earth, Wind & Fire
- March 22: Marshmello
- March 28: Why Don't We
- March 29: Gavin DeGraw
Mardi Gras at Universal Studios is included with regular park admission. After the fun in the park is done, head over to Universal CityWalk, where the party continues at seven venues, including Pat O’Brien's, CityWalk’s Mardi Gras headquarters.
See all of the partying for yourself!
JUNE - AUGUST
Fourth of July Celebration (Universal Studios Florida) — July 2021
We celebrated Fourth of July at Universal Studios Florida with our favorite Universal characters in 2019. Festivities kicked off at the Music Plaza at 5 p.m. with DJ M-Squared spinning top tunes and live music from Raydio. Characters and stilt walkers joined the dance party and showed off their moves. The pyrotechnics display took place over the Music Plaza once the sun went down. We even got food and drinks delivered right to us on the lawn from the Classic Monster Cafe across the way! We ended the night by watching Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration in Central Park.
Universal Orlando has not announced its return for 2021 yet (and it did not take place in 2020).
SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER
Leap's Note: Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood have made the difficult decision to cancel Halloween Horror Nights for 2020. We are hopful that the event will return in 2021.
Halloween Horror Nights 30 (Universal Studios Florida) — Select Nights in September, October and November
The biggest Universal Studios Florida event of the year is held on select nights every fall. For horror fans, and those of you who just like to be scared, Halloween Horror Nights is not to be missed! The park is transformed from a bubbly theme park into a place of terror. "Scare zones" are set up while creatures roam about. Think you're safe? Ha! You might just find a zombie breathing down your neck. The big lure of the night are the movie set-quality haunted houses themed around popular TV shows, classic and current films and sometimes even video games.
This event is not intended for children and is a separately ticketed event. In fact, you'll probably need our Halloween Horror Nights survival guide just to make it through the night. Tickets go on sale a few months before the event begins, and we highly recommend buying tickets in advance!
Prepare yourself for Halloween Horror Nights with this video of the 2019 event.
Universal Halloween Activities — Select Nights in September, October and November
While the full Halloween Horror Nights experience may not be available for 2020, Universal gave us something to haunt our nightmares until the full event returns. At Universal Studios Florida, guests can experience two brand-new, socially distanced haunted houses using the Virtual Line Experience ... and it's included in your admission! Over at Universal's Islands of Adventure, tadpoles can trick or treat at select retailers. Plus, spooky season merchandise and food is available for everyone to enjoy all around the resort. This limited-time experience will take place Sept. 21 to 22, Sept. 26 to 27 and Oct. 3 to Nov. 1.
NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER
Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort — Nov. 14, 2020, through Jan. 3, 2021
Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure)
Holiday wishes do come true! Muggles are able to experience Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley trimmed with festive holiday decorations. Even the shops of the Wizarding World are trimmed! There are holiday-themed food and drinks, as well as entertainment.
The highlight of Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a holiday show taking place on Hogwarts Castle. This incredible experience uses mapped-projection technology to "cast a spell" onto the castle and features iconic moments from the films. Check out our video of the magical show!
Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's (Universal Studios Florida)
Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's debuted at Universal Studios Florida in 2017. A re-imagining of the park's long-running Macy's Holiday Parade, this extravaganza features Dreamworks favorites. During the parade, guests see the Minions, Shrek, "Madagascar" characters and more. Santa also attends so he can light up the New York Christmas tree!
Grinchmas (Universal's Islands of Adventure)
For those of you Who love the Grinch, there is no finer time to visit Universal's Islands of Adventure than during Grinchmas. Seuss Landing is transformed into the wonderful world of Grinchmas with the heartwarming live show, "Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular." The show features some of your favorite Grinch characters. It's also set to music recorded by Mannheim Steamroller.
Guests can get up close and personal with the Grinch himself for pictures or autographs. You can even have breakfast with him! The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast occurs on select mornings and is a dining experience that requires a reservation booked in advance. Grinchmas, however, is included with regular park admission.
We wanted to provide you this complete guide to Universal Orlando Events in 2020 and 2021 because the Universal Studios concerts, parties, festivals and events are some of the best reasons to visit! You will find more resources and tips for planning your Universal Orlando Resort trip inside our Orlando Planning Guide.
Are you planning on hopping to Universal Orlando Resort this year? Which Universal Orlando events in 2020 and 2021 are you most looking forward to attending? Be sure to stop by the comments to tell us below!