Orlando Wine Festival moves from downtown to I-Drive, and it may not be the last event to do so


In a surprise move, the Orlando Wine Festival is moving from its downtown home, where it took place for the past two years, to a new "iconic" home on International Drive.

Noting the new venue's larger size, the Orlando Wine Festival will take place at Icon Park (previously known as I-Drive 360). The new site will be able to accommodate 10,000 attendees and a number of new additions.

The "Sangria Island" will return, but will be joined by two new gardens devoted to rosé and beer. Even more exciting than beer and wine are the animals that will be joining the event. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s event benefit the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, and a small meet-and-greet center will be located in back of the festival, where animals can be adopted. (Be careful you don't fall in love after a few glasses of wine.)

Icon Park is building up its events calendar and date nights. The large observation wheel, the second largest in the nation, offers excellent views of the region, especially at sunset, and every ticket to the wine festival includes a ride on the observation wheel. The Wheelhouse, where guests board the wheel and access other attractions like Sea Life and Madame Tussauds, will also host indoor activities for the wine festival.
With more apartment complexes and housing developments continuing to open in the tourist corridor, the area that was once viewed by many locals as a no-go zone is quickly becoming a regular visit for many locals. It's not just residents who are discovering the tourist corridor is offering more than mini-golf and tacky gift shops. In October, Winter Park staple Jillycakes moved from their coveted location near Trader Joe's in Winter Park to Icon Park's Wheelhouse Market. A few blocks north of Icon Park, Nile Ethiopian remains one of the best-reviewed restaurants in all of Central Florida, despite its I-Drive address.

Unicorp, which developed Icon Park, designed the development to host events like the wine festival, and focused on attracting businesses that would appeal to locals and tourists alike. The large central lawn regularly hosts events and acts as a public park for an area of town that, despite thousands of new residents moving in, has yet to see much in the way of new parks. Unicorp looks to be copying their success at Icon Park with their upcoming O-Town West development on Palm Parkway, where they are building on the success of Icon Park by adding residential and office space to the mix.

The Orlando Wine Festival takes place on Feb. 15. Tickets start at $20 and are now on sale.

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