Arts & Culture
Visitors and newcomers to Ocala/Marion County will be delighted to discover an exciting variety of entertainment, a vibrant arts community and a deep respect for our unique cultural heritage. From a symphony under the stars to theater productions and local museums, there is no shortage of cultural venues at which to spend the day or evening.
Museums, Galleries & Educational Centers
The Appleton Museum of Art is recognized throughout the world as a vibrant cultural center with its world class permanent collection of European, American and Contemporary art, plus Asian, African, Islamic and pre-Columbian artifacts and antiquities. The Appleton also offers outstanding visiting exhibitions, educational programs and year-round special events.
The Webber Center Gallery, located on the College of Central Florida Campus, hosts many of the traveling collections of the Smithsonian Institute as well as exhibits of its own centered on themes of national or regional interest.
The Florida Carriage Museum located at the Grand Oaks Resort is a national treasure. The museum is home to one of the world’s largest private collections of carriages and equine artifacts. Step back in time and enjoy the elegance and pageantry of over 160 European and American Carriages, including the elaborate 1850 Armbruster Dress Chariot once owned by Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph, and his wife, Elisabeth. The Florida Carriage Museum uniquely offers a glimpse into the history of the relationship between man and horse and clearly defines the manner in which the horse has helped shape the history of man.
With the motto, “Wonder, Explore, Create,” the Discovery Center in Tuscawilla Park offers numerous programs for children to explore their environment. Students and guests enjoy the ongoing programs focused on Florida culture and life at the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center.
The Marion Cultural Alliance operates two community galleries in Marion County. Brick City Center for the Arts in downtown Ocala has hosted exhibits and happenings since 1992 for Ocala Art Group, Fine Art on Broadway, Westport High art students, and Insomniac Theatre. MCA’s gallery in west Ocala, Artful Gifts, is located in Circle Square Commons at On Top of the World. Established in 2010, this gallery serves as one of the first exhibit spaces for the arts community living west of I-75. Vistors to both locations are encouraged to take a piece of art home or just admire the work of artists on display.
Catch the Fever – again! Horse Fever celebrated its 10th anniversary by adding an additional 27 new life-sized horses created with fiberglass forms and designed and decorated by local artists. Each horse “galloped” into the streets of Marion County, joining the original herd of nearly 45 horses that has been decorating the Ocala landscape since 2001. Marion Cultural Alliance developed this program to help support arts in Marion County.
Marion County residents are passionate about the preservation and appreciation of art and culture and encourage involvement in organizations such as the Ocala Film Commission, Fine Arts for Ocala (FAFO), Historic Ocala Preservation Society (HOPS), and the Ocala Model Railroaders’ Historic Preservation Society.
The Ocala Symphony Orchestra averages a dozen concerts throughout the year from Symphony Under the Stars to a Handel’s Messiah holiday concert. Its mission is to play the highest-caliber music performed by skilled musicians.
In 2015, the Symphony completed renovations of the former City Auditorium into the new Reilly Arts Center. This beautiful facility serves the Symphony and numerous other arts groups in the community. With its setting at the end of Tuscawilla Park, it is another jewel in the community's crown.
The all-volunteer Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band offers a wide variety of music including marches, big band medleys, classical, popular music, show tunes, and patriotic tributes. The band performs throughout the year at venues in the greater Ocala/Marion County area.
For more than 50 years, the Ocala Civic Theatre has produced professional-quality, live productions to delight all audiences. This volunteer-based organization is one of the largest community theatres in the state and produces more than 12 fully-staged productions each year. They also have a youth program, a seniors program, and host professional touring companies.
For more light-hearted adult theatrics, check out the Insomniac Theatre. Insomniac Theatre Company is dedicated to enhancing the awareness and appreciation of the fine art of dramatic performance. The company mission is to delight and entertain as well as trying to do its best to reach out to those in the community who have always wanted to be involved in a production, but never had the motivation.
Silver Springs Film Festival
SSIFF provides filmmakers and their audiences a unique, sophisticated and welcoming experience, featuring four full days of screenings, events and professional networking and development opportunities. They make every effort to encourage and facilitate in-person dialog with our featured filmmakers, to provide audiences, artists, and industry professionals with meaningful opportunities to engage, interact, and network.
The Ocala Film Foundation (OFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to leading our community in creative and cultural discovery through the medium of motion pictures. By bringing you projects such as the Silver Springs International FIlm Festival, they seek to engage and encourage independent artists from the United States and around the world, and they strive to build a community among those artists and their audience. By increasing awareness, accessibility and appreciation within our community they endeavor to support the educational, cultural and economic well-being of our region.
Performing Arts Conservatory
The Performing Arts Conservatory (PAC) is a place where students enjoy learning as artists in a professional environment. PAC encourages students to develop an appreciation, if not also to personally explore, all forms of art – from dance and music to acting, voice and art.
Festivals, Special Events & Celebrations
In Marion County, arts, culture and festivals are always in season. Throughout the year more than 250 civic clubs and organizations promote festivals celebrating the cultural variety of Marion County. Major annual events include: Fine Arts for Ocala's Ocala Art Festival; "God and Country Day;" the Ocala Christmas Parade; Ocali-Fest; Light-Up Ocala; the McIntosh 1890 Festival; Boomtown Days in Dunnellon; Belleview Founder’s Day and other smaller festivals and events.
The Ocala/Marion County Visitors & Conventions Bureau offers a detail event listing on their website. Please click here to view their current list of community festivals and events.