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  • Writer's pictureCollin Brazan

Universal Orlando Resort's events: should you plan a trip for them?

Updated: May 16

It has become the standard for theme parks to offer festivals and tickets events, and Universal Orlando Resort is no stranger to it. Though some events, like the Christian music festival Rock the Universe, have been postponed until 2022, many of Universal's regularly scheduled ones have been announced to return in some capacity in 2021. Here's what you can expect, along with some advice on whether or not you should plan a trip around them:

Mardi Gras

Starting Feb. 6th and ending on March 28, 2021, Louisiana's favorite holiday makes its way to Universal Orlando Resort. Marketed as an international food festival, there will be booths representing New Orleans, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico and Germany. Though not with dedicated booths, other countries will have dishes too, including Spain, Belgium, the Bahamas, Brazil, Cuba, Canada, Italy, Columbia, Italy and France.

Though no true parade has been announced for this year, pirate-themed-floats will join Universal's Mardi Gras floats as decorations throughout the parks. Beads will still make an appearance without a parade, as street performers will roam about the parks to still further the party spirit Mardi Gras is known for.

The Music Plaza Stage will feature live music authentic to the holiday. In the past, Universal has held larger concerts during Mardi Gras. Those have been suspended this year, but booked bands in the past have included The Roots, Kool & the Gang, TLC, Marshmello, Dan + Shay, Bazzi, Fifth Harmony and Pitbull.

Why you should book it:This festival is perfect for all guests of all ages, so this is an easy recommendation if you're looking for a trip early this year. It is also perfect for those Louisiana residents who will not get to experience the holiday this year, but would still like to experience a safer, smaller version of the state's most predominant holiday.

Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights is perhaps Universal's biggest event. It is teased and promoted for much of the year before kicking off in the fall. Though it was cancelled in 2020, Universal has stated it intends for the festival to return in some capacity this year. The 2019 festival was held on select nights from Sep. 21 to Nov. 1. This ticketed event is not one for children, as its haunted houses and scare zones—themed locations throughout the park where scare actors interact directly with guests—but is instead built for those young adult and older guests with an affinity for horror.

Exclusive food items and merchandise round out the experience, making for one of the most complete theme park experiences throughout the year.

Why you should book it: If you're a horror fan or are looking for a transformation to the usual theme park experience, Halloween Horror Nights is where you should look. If you are visiting during the fall and not attending Halloween Horror Nights, vacation on the dates that do not offer the party that night.


Scheduled to take place between Nov. 14 and Jan. 3, holiday decorations and food items fill both Universal Orlando Resort theme parks. Both Harry Potter areas see transformations for the season, with their year-round winter theme converting to one designed completely for the holidays. Years in the past have brought character events, parades and nighttime spectaculars (on Hogwarts Castle, no less). While it is too early to know what the end of 2021 will bring, the opportunities for a transformational theme park experience is promising enough to make a worthy trip for any family.

Why you should book it: The holidays are consistently the best times at theme parks, with decorations, exclusive dining and other events filling the experience with more to do and see than most other times in the year. This event is great for all families, and it helps make Universal Orlando Resort a perfect balance for the adults and the children in the same party.

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