Orlando: A Sports Fan’s Dream City During the Holidays
Published on Dec 5, 2018 by Lisa Mazza
Living in Orlando is a sports-lover's dream, especially during the holiday season. In America, we love watching sports on our days off with family and home-cooked food. Central Florida is different from other regions, though, because instead of watching sports on TV and hiding from the cold winter storms, residents head outdoors to one of the many major sporting events the city has to offer. From hosting NFL and college bowl games, to local hockey and basketball seasons being in full swing, as well as the United States Tennis Association presenting two elite events, Orlando has become a powerhouse for sports during the holidays. When December rolls in, the sports festivities truly begin!
The holidays, happiness, and football just go together. In Orlando, there’s an overload of all three, where four bowl games are hosted, because one just isn’t enough. The Florida Classic is the biggest in-state rivalry game between two HBCUs, Florida A&M versus Bethune-Cookman University. Every year since 1978, tens of thousands of die-hard college students and alumni come together at Camping World Stadium to attend The Florida Classic in Orlando.
The Camping World Bowl is a postseason marquee matchup. This bowl game has made records with stadium attendance this year will host two Top 20 college football teams. Since being hosted in Orlando, the Camping World Bowl has made a name for itself, and lineups have continued to improve with top selections from the ACC outside of the College Football Playoff series.
Orlando rings in the New Year by hosting the annual Citrus Bowl game. This is one of the major bowl games in the Playoff era of college football’s postseason, and also hosts top Big Ten and SEC teams. Since 1987, Orlando residents have celebrated with this New Year’s Day tradition.
The City Beautiful will close out the month of January 2019 by hosting the NFL Pro Bowl for the third consecutive year. This friendly matchup allows fans both young and old to meet the best players in the league during the week at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, all of which leads up to Sunday’s big game at Camping World Stadium.
The Orlando Magic are Orlando’s hometown basketball NBA team, and going to a Magic game at the impressive Amway Center is always an experience. The atmosphere is energizing, from the Magic Dancers to the production of lights and music. The team is scheduled to play at least two times a week during December, with big-name opponents such as the Miami Heat scheduled the day before Christmas Eve, and the Chicago Bulls on January 2.
Although not an icy city, Orlando is still home to a professional hockey team, the Orlando Solar Bears. And, just an hour’s drive away, hockey fans can also enjoy a Tampa Bay Lightning game at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
The United States Tennis Association has found a home right in Lake Nona neighborhood in south Orlando. The USTA's state-of-the-art facility has 100 courts and hosts the UCF tennis teams and the USTA’s Community Tennis and Player Development divisions. Two major events will be hosted in partnership with the Tennis Channel in December, prior to the official start of the tennis season. The Invesco Champion’s Challenge will kick off the month of December by bringing legendary tennis icons to the court for the ultimate showdown between former world champions while the USTA’s American Tennis Showcase will feature the sport’s up and coming tennis starts toward the end of the month.