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Mount Dora: Eight big weekend festivals plus year-round charm

Last updated on June 4th, 2021 at 03:15 pm

The lighthouse along the lake in historic Mount Dora, near Orlando.

The lighthouse along the lake in historic Mount Dora, near Orlando. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Mount Dora might as well be called Mount Dorable – its popularity has led to a lot of cuteness. Its downtown and historic district have been restored, landscaped and beautified to maximize the inherent charm of this small town 40 minutes northwest of Orlando

Festivals in Mount Dora make it a destination for antique lovers, art lovers and crafters. Many accommodations in town have special rates for “festival weekends,” which includes the three-times-a-year Antique Extravaganzas at sprawling Renninger’s Antique Center.

The Lakeside Inn is a grand old hotel with a porch full of rocking chairs and beautiful view of Lake Dora.

The Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora is a grand old hotel with a porch full of rocking chairs, a beautiful view of Lake Dora and several historic buildings, including this one at the entrance to the complex. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Mount Dora is situated among hills and old oak trees overlooking the lovely Lake Dora. There are restored Victorian houses along brick streets and it actually is built on a “mount” by Florida standards—184 feet above sea level.

Some might have preferred the less perfect Mount Dora of a few decades ago, but there’s no use pining for it. Mount Dora is still a good base for exploring one of the best areas of Florida for outdoor activities.

The historic Donnelly House in Mount Dora.

The historic Donnelly House in Mount Dora. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Mount Dora was a winter resort at the end of the 19th Century, when tourists arrived by train.

There are other smaller weekend celebrations, too, but the busiest weekends and biggest draws are these eight, according to city officials:

2021 festivals in Mount Dora

  • Oct. 7-10, 2021. The 45th Annual Bicycle Festival, which attracts 1,000 cyclists. Here are details from Florida Rambler.
  • Oct. 23-24, 2021. Annual Craft Fair.This is a juried event that attracts top crafters from around the country. It also draws 200,000 visitors.
  • Nov. 13-14, 2021. Plant & Garden Festival. There are garden tours the same weekend. Information 352-729-2170.
  • Nov. 19-21, 2021. Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza. The final major antique event of the year is scheduled to be held.
  • December – January. The annual Christmas lights festival. As if Mount Dora isn’t pretty enough, the city gets decorated with two million lights. They flip the switch the Saturday after Thanksgiving and there are a series of holiday events on the next weekend: the Christmas Walk, a holiday street party, a holiday parade during the day and lighted boat parade at night. The lights stay on through January. Details on the Christmas lights festival are here.
Downtown Mount Dora is lined with shops and cafes.

Downtown Mount Dora is lined with shops and cafes.

2022 festivals in Mount Dora

  • January, 2022. Dates TBA. Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza. More than 800 antique dealers converge on Mount Dora for this big outdoor show. The admission price says it all: $10 on Friday, when you can scoop up the best stuff; $6 Saturday; and then $4 Sunday. The event is repeated three times a year, the third weekend of November, January and February.
  • Feb. 19-22, 2022. Annual Scottish Highland Festival. This gated event with a $10 admission ticket features Scottish bands and musicians all the weekend at Donnelly Park. and an afternoon of Highland Games in Gilbert Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. ot 5 p.m. Details.
  • February 2022. The  Annual Arts Festival spreads out throughout the downtown, attracting 285 artists and thousands of visitors. As of mid-January, this festival is still scheduled.
  • February, 2022. Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza returns for a second winter weekend, with the same abundance of antiques and curiosities, dealers and customers. That weekend is also the Mount Dora Music Festival.
  • There are actually many more smaller festivals. Get the complete updates list here.
One of the booths at Renninger's Antique Center, in Mount Dora near Orlando. The antique center stages several festivals in Mount Dora that are big draws. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

One of the booths at Renninger’s Antique Center, in Mount Dora. Renninger’s stages several festivals in Mount Dora that are big draws. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The boardwalk at Palm Island Park. (Photo courtesy Jared422_0 via Flickr.)

The boardwalk at Palm Island Park. (Photo courtesy Jared422_0 via Flickr.)

Things to do beyond the festivals in Mount Dora

It’s nice to visit on other weekends, too, when it’s less crowded. Mount Dora is a walkable town, full of restaurants and shops and interesting architecture. It’s a great place to explore on foot or by bike (if you don’t mind a few hills.)

Along the lake, be sure to stroll along the boardwalk at Palm Island Park, which offers views over Lake Dora, curtains of Spanish moss hanging from the lakeside cypress trees and good opportunities to spot birds and gators. From the park, you’ll see a 35-foot-high red-and-white lighthouse along the lakefront and you’ll probably assume it’s historic. Nope; it’s cute, but it was built in 1988.

Just to the south of the city is a beautiful county park for picnics or camping — Trimble Park, located on a peninsula between two small lakes.

A favorite short kayak paddle is the Dora Canal. The Dora Canal is only a one-mile canal linking Lake Dora and Lake Eustis, but some think it’s one of the most beautiful miles you’ll ever experience. Here’s more paddling the Dora Canal.

One of the most popular activities in Mount Dora any weekend is Renninger’s Flea Market and Antique Center. The antique center is in a large building and has 200 booths with everything from vintage made-in-Hawaii Hawaiian shirts to jewelry, furniture and collectibles. On weekends, an adjoining marketplace is a flea market and farmer’s market that draws lots of vendors and visitors.

In addition to the three big Extravaganza weekends, Renninger’s has smaller special events, including a swap meet for guitars, cars and cycles every second Sunday and wide variety of special weekends — military shows, Civil War re-enactments, pow wows, Steampunk gathering, garden shows and more.

Places to stay in Mount Dora

Tremain Cottages in Mount Dora, one of several bed and breakfasts that fill up when there are festivals in Mount Dora.

Tremain Cottages in Mount Dora, near Orlando.

There are at least a dozen bed and breakfasts, at least nine groups of cottages and more than a dozen hotels in and around Mount Dora. For more information, call the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce at 352-383-2165, or visit their web site at for lodging information.

We stayed at Tremain Street Cottages, moderately priced and an easy, picturesque walk from downtown and many restaurants

For a comprehensive list of lodgings in Mount Dora, go to this link: Hotels in Mount Dora,. (Sponsored)

Best camping near Mount Dora

Trimble Park (Orange County), 5802 Trimble Park Road, Mount Dora, FL 32757. This 71-acre park sits beside Lake Beauclaire and has 15 grassy campsites shaded by oak trees. Each site has a 30-amp electric hookup, as well as picnic tables, grill and fire rings. There are no sewer hookups, but a dump station is nearby. Also on site are rest rooms, showers a boat ramp and a playground. Campsites are $23 per night with discounts for seniors and Orange County residents. Call 352-383-1993 for reservations up to 45 days in advance. The park is three miles from Mount Dora. Visit the web site: Orange County Parks

Kelly Park/Rock Springs Park (Orange County), 400 E. Kelly Park Road, Apopka, FL 32712. The focal point of this 245-acre park is Rock Spring, but the campground is one of our favorites. There are 26 campsites, and every one of them is spacious, clean and well-shaded. There is a centrally located restroom with showers, and each site has a fire ring, grill, table, water and electric. No sewer hookups, but a dump station is nearby. Call the park office at 407-889-4179 for reservations up to 45 days in advance. This park is 12 miles from Mount Dora. Read the related Florida Rambler article: Best Camping Near Orland0: Kelly Park hideaway

Wekiwa Springs State Park (Florida State Park), 1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, FL 32712. This beautiful state park has its own spring, which merges with Rock Spring Run to form the Wekiva River. An easy 16-mile drive through Apopka to Mount Dora makes it convenient. There are 60 campsites with water and electric hookups, a fire ring with grill and a picnic table. A dump station is on the premises, and there are two restrooms with showers. Pets are allowed. Reservations can be made online at Wekiva River Basin: A wild and scenic adventure

Lake Griffin State Park. (Florida State Park) 3089 US 441, Fruitland Park, FL 34731. Fishing for bass is the big attraction at this 500-acre oak-covered oasis. The shady full-facility campground features 40 well-buffered sites with electric, picnic table and campfire grills. No sewer hookups, but a dump station is available. Showers, restrooms and laundry facility are in the center of the campground. Pets are allowed. There is a boat ramp, and canoe rentals are available.  Campsites are $18 per night, including water and electric. For reservations, call 800-326-3521.. The park is 21 miles from Mount Dora, near Leesburg. Visit the Florida State Parks web site for more information.

Alexander Springs Recreation Area. (Ocala National Forest), 49525 County Road 445, Altoona, FL. If you are lucky enough to get a campsite here, you will find one of the most pristine sub-tropical environments you may ever experience. This campground is located in Ocala National Forest and worth a few extra (25) miles travel to Mount Dora. There are 66 paved and shady sites, but amenities are limited. There are no electric or sewer hookups, but there are restrooms with showers and a dump station on site. Pets are allowed. The sites are very reasonable $21 per night and reservations can be made by calling 877-444-6777, or you can book online at For more information, visit the Ocala National Park web site.

Resources for planning a visit to Mount Dora:

Things to do near Mount Dora

This region is full of state parks, state and national forests and hiking, biking and kayak trails. Here are a few of our favorites:

A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.

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