Just as cooler weather and pumpkin-spiced treats usher in the fall, sports fans in Orlando can feel when their favorite season is nearing. Of course, these seasons come with very different climates as well. Some bask in the return of UCF Knights football, some suit up to root on the Orlando Magic, and others bundle up during Orlando Solar Bears games (full schedules below).
Even the solo athletes will have a hard time staying out of the game this fall in Orlando, as it’s our city’s most active season. That could mean taking a dip at weekly Happy Hour Paddleboarding Parties in Maitland (Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays), meeting sports heroes like Olympian Jeff Galloway at Track Shack (Oct. 3), going for a military-style Ruck Sack March (Nov. 16), or simply admiring talent from afar at the Festivals of Speed (Nov. 29-Dec. 1).
We’ve provided a stacked roster of energetic events in this section; now it’s up to you to actively choose how to spend the fall sports season in Orlando. Really, there’s no wrong way to go about it, so pick wisely and then run with it – or skate with it, or wrestle with it, or just full on slam-dunk it.
UCF Knights Football
In their first year as part of the American Athletic Conference, the Knights started off the 2013-14 season with a three-game winning streak, including a shutout against Florida International University in Miami and an impressive road victory at Penn State’s Happy Valley. They suit up for an intense battle against the highly ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (Sept. 28) and then trudge through several conference bouts, before hosting cross-state foes the University of South Florida Bulls (Nov. 29) for a Friday night rivalry week matchup.
The following home games all take place at Bright House Networks Stadium, University of Central Florida; times to be announced; various prices; 407-823-1000; ucfathletics.com
UCF Knights vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
UCF Knights vs. Connecticut Huskies
UCF Knights vs. Houston Cougars Homecoming game for the Knights.
UCF Knights vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights 7:30 pm Thursday
UCF Knights vs. USF Bulls
In his first season as Orlando Magic head coach last year, Jacque Vaughn’s success didn’t quite match up to the initial hype, but we’ll just consider it a warmup. Nevertheless, the Magic are back in action this fall and fans look forward to a season filled with less injuries and more victories.
The team sees a home opener against the New Orleans Pelicans (Nov. 1), and then jumps into Eastern Conference matchups against the Brooklyn Nets (Nov. 3) and Boston Celtics (Nov. 8). Later in November, they’ll need to bring everything they’ve got when state rivals and defending champs the Miami Heat come to town (Nov. 20).
The following home games all take place at Amway Center, 400 W. Church St.; various prices; 407-896-2442; orlandomagic.com
Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers preseason game 7 pm Friday
Orlando Magic vs. Memphis Grizzlies preseason game 7 pm Friday
Orlando Magic vs. Detroit Pistons preseason game 6 pm Sunday
Oct. 25, Nov. 1
Orlando Magic vs. New Orleans Pelicans 7 pm Friday
Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets 6 pm Sunday
Orlando Magic vs. L.A. Clippers 7 pm Wednesday
Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics 7 pm Friday
Orlando Magic vs. Milwaukee Bucks 7 pm Wednesday
Orlando Magic vs. Dallas Mavericks 7 pm Saturday
Orlando Magic vs. Miami Heat 7 pm Wednesday
Orlando Magic vs. Phoenix Suns 6 pm Sunday
Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers 7 pm Wednesday
Orlando Magic vs. San Antonio Spurs 7 pm Friday
Orlando Solar Bears
The Orlando Solar Bears suffered a disappointing inaugural East Coast Hockey League season earlier this year, but they’re putting it behind them and looking forward with a new coaching staff led by head coach Vince Williams, along with a handful of new players. The Bears come into this season ranked fourth in conference standings, and the team will endure a tough season opener against the Florida Everblades (Oct. 19), but we fully trust they should be well-equipped come time for their double-header against the Toledo Walley (Nov. 10-11).
The following home games all take place at the Amway Center, 400 W. Church St.; various prices; 407-951-8200; orlandosolarbearshockey.com
Oct. 19, Nov. 2, Nov. 21
Orlando Solar Bears vs. Florida Everblades 7 pm Saturday, 7 pm Thursday
Oct. 26, Oct. 27
Orlando Solar Bears vs. Gwinnett Gladiators 7 pm Saturday, 3 pm Sunday
Orlando Solar Bears vs. Elmira Jackals 7 pm Thursday
Nov. 10, Nov. 11
Orlando Solar Bears vs. Toledo Walleye 3 pm Sunday, 7 pm Monday
Nov. 26, Nov. 28
Orlando Solar Bears vs. Greenville Road Warriors
7 pm Tuesday, 6 pm Thursday
Happy Hour Paddleboarding Party Bring your own beer and hop on for a paddleboarding trip around the lake. Afterward, join in a post-paddle party at a nearby watering hole and enjoy drink specials and pub grub. You don’t have to be an expert boarder, plus all of your equipment and the paddleboard is included in the fee. 6 pm Wednesday, 6 pm Friday, 6 pm Monday; Fort Maitland Park, 900 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; $25 (includes all equipment and board); 407-252-2611; hauhelewai.com.
Laughter Yoga Local yoga instructor Pat Conklin leads a workshop in yoga-style breathing and laughter exercises. 6 pm Wednesday; South Creek Library, 1702 Deerfield Blvd.; free; 407-835-7323; ocls.info.
Sept. 27-Sept. 28
6th Annual Ranch Rodeo State Finals More than a dozen rodeo teams square off in bronco riding, wild cow milking, calf branding, colt riding and other competitions for the chance to win the championship title. 7 pm Friday-Saturday; Silver Spurs Arena at Osceola Heritage Park, 1875 Silver Spur Lane, Kissimmee; $10; 321-697-3333; ohpark.com.
Sept. 27, Oct. 25, Nov. 8, Nov. 20, Nov. 27
Lunch With George Grab a bite to eat with UCF head football coach George O’Leary and chat about the team and his vision for the season. 12:30 pm Friday, 12:30 pm Wednesday; Bright House Networks Stadium, University of Central Florida; free for first 100 fans; 407-823-1000; ucfknights.com.
108 Sun Salutations This outdoor yoga session, led by local instructors from Ananda Center for Yoga and Massage and also Genetic Fitness, has you practicing as many salutations as you can. They will also hold a book donation drive to benefit the Winter Garden Library. 8-10 am Saturday; Winter Garden City Hall, 300 W. Plant St., Winter Garden; free; 407-877-6061; anandaym.com.
Orlando’s Urban Excursion Bike Race & Series Point-to-point cycling race open to all riders and bicycles – fixies, single-speed, mountain, road and track bikes are welcome to participate. 1 pm Saturday; Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave.; $10, visit Orlando Urban Bike Series on Facebook for more info.
Sept. 28-Oct. 12
Tai Chi Sessions Bill Burnette leads an outdoor workshop in the garden, which focuses on both Yang style Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong. 10-11 am Saturday; Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, 633 Osceola Ave., Winter Park; $60; 407-647-6294; polasek.org.
Galloway Training Kick-Off/Meet n’ Greet with Jeff Galloway The former Olympian and current runDisney coach shares how he goes about training for marathons and half-marathons, plus he’ll tell stories of his impressive running career. 5:30-7 pm Thursday; Track Shack, 1104 N. Mills Ave.; free; 407-898-1313; trackshack.com.
1st Annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Champion’s Challenge Pro rodeo riders compete in this made-for-TV series. 7:30 pm Saturday; Silver Spurs Arena at Osceola Heritage Park, 1875 Silver Spur Lane, Kissimmee; $20; 321-697-3333; ohpark.com.
Test the Waters Fishing Tournament Children and parents are invited to participate in this morning fishing rodeo, plus fishing poles, bait and snacks will be provided to all competitors. 7-11 am Saturday; Lake Island Park, 255 S. Denning Ave., Winter Park; free; 407-599-3203; cityofwinterpark.org.
Oct. 5-Oct. 6
Vintage Venture This annual outdoor car show at the winery showcases a variety of classic models, plus you’ll hear live ’50s and ’60s music on stage and partake in free winery tours and tastings. 10 am-5 pm Saturday, 11 am-5 pm Sunday; Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, 19239 U.S. Highway 27 North, Clermont; $2; 800-768-9463; lakeridgewinery.com.
Oct. 11-Oct. 12
Warrior Martial Arts & BLITZ State Championships Martial arts athletes show off their moves in this competition, which showcases a wide variety of styles and defensive techniques. 5 pm Friday, 8 am Saturday; Exhibition Building at Osceola Heritage Park, 1901 Chief Osceola Trail, Kissimmee; visit website for details; 321-697-3333; warrior-mac.com.
Armageddon Ambush – The Extreme Mud Run Athletes set out on a three-mile obstacle mud race while facing color bombs that will be thrown in their direction along the way. 7:30 am Saturday; Revolution the Off Road Experience, 4000 State Road 33, Clermont; $10-$48; armageddonambush.com.
Orlando’s Urban Excursion Bike Race & Series Hop on a bicycle and join this point-to-point cycling race, which is open to all riders and types of bicycles. 1 pm Saturday; Retro City Cycles, 1806 N. Orange Ave.; $10, visit Orlando Urban Bike Series on Facebook for more info.
The Aqua Run Embark on a 5K race with a water-squirting device in hand, and then enjoy a finish line party with live music and water slides. 8 am Sunday; Florida Citrus Bowl, 1610 W. Church St.; $20-$35; 425-330-5120.
U Can Finish 5 Miler & 2 Mile Runners set out on a timed route throughout the UCF campus, while the little ones participate in the Health 100 Kids’ Run. 7:30 am Sunday; CFE Arena, University of Central Florida; $26-$60; trackshack.com.
Oct. 14, Nov. 11
Good Form Running Clinic First learn about how you can run faster and without injury, and then head out on a group run around town. 5:30 pm Monday; Track Shack, 1104 N. Mills Ave.; free; 407-898-1313; trackshack.com.
Oct. 18-Oct. 19
Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival Teams from all over North America compete in an action-packed paddling race on the lake near downtown Disney, while patrons enjoy a vendor village and food concessions during the races. 8 am-5 pm Friday-Saturday; Downtown Disney, 1478 E. Buena Vista Drive; free for spectators; 416-962-8899; gwndragonboat.com.
Orlando Extreme Watersports Fest Watch as pro wakeboarders, waterskiers, wakesurfers and wakeskaters perform demos and tricks on the lake. Noon-10 pm Saturday; Lake Ivanhoe Park, 57 S. Ivanhoe Blvd.; $10-$15; orlandowatersportsfest.com.
The Neon Run This evening 5K run has participants dashing and diving through glow zones, complete with laser lights, fog, neon glowing water and music. 7:45 pm Saturday; Central Florida Fairgrounds, 4603 W. Colonial Drive; $45; theneonrun.com.
Oct. 20, Nov. 17
I Believe in Wrestling Watch as live pro wrestling matches feature competitors Chico Adams, Donovan Terrell, Gabriel Black and Carlos Rivera bringing everything they have into the ring. 5 pm Sunday; Team Vision Dojo, 6923 Narcoossee Road #620; $10; 407-334-2200; ibelieveinwrestling.com.
Halloween Hustle 5K The Junior League of Greater Orlando hosts a Halloween-inspired kids fun run and 5K run/walk, complete with live music, entertainment, games and more at the finish line party in Baldwin Park. 6-9 pm Thursday; Baldwin Park, New Broad Street and Jake Street; free; 386-216-1602.
Oct. 24-Oct. 27
2013 Collegiate Clay Court Invitational Dual-gender tennis tournament. Various times Thursday-Sunday; ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista; $200-$1,000; 407-939-1500; espnwwos.disney.go.com.
Orlando’s Urban Excursion Bike Race & Series Head out on a point-to-point cycling race around the downtown Orlando area – open to all riders and bicycles. 1 pm Saturday; Nora’s Lake Ivanhoe Wine and Cigars, 1407 N. Orange Ave.; $10, visit Orlando Urban Bike Series on Facebook for more info; 407-447-5885; noraswinecigars.com.
Runnona 5K Set out on a 3.1-mile run throughout Laureate Park, ending with an after-race party to celebrate your finish. 6 pm Saturday; Laureate Park Lake Nona, Tavistock Lakes Boulevard; $26-$35; 407-896-1160.
Florida Citrus Sports Orlando MINI Open This PGA-style mini golf tournament raises funds for FCSports Foundation’s programs, which support disadvantaged youth and families in Central Florida. 6-10 pm Thursday; CityWalk at Universal Orlando, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza; $125-$500; floridacitrussports.com/foundation.aspx.
Nov. 8-Nov. 9
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend Runners from all over the world come to Disney to race around three theme parks, with an evening Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K, runDisney Kids’ Races, a health and fitness expo and a finish line party. Various times Friday-Saturday; Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista; various prices; 407-824-4321; disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Celery City Cruiser’s 30th Annual Antique Car Show The club showcases a variety of makes and models in this outdoor event. 9 am-4 pm Saturday; Museum of Seminole County History, 300 Bush Blvd., Sanford; free; 407-665-2489.
Winter Park Concours d’Elegance This annual juried exotic car show along Park Avenue lines up more than 120 models of cars along the street for auto buffs to ogle. 9 am-4 pm Sunday; Park Avenue, Park and Comstock avenues, Winter Park; free; 407-649-9190; winterparkconcours.com.
Ruck Sack March Feel what it’s like to run or walk a 3-, 6- or 12-mile military-style course with a 35-pound backpack on to benefit the Camaraderie Foundation. 6 am Saturday; University of Central Florida, Memory Mall, 4000 Central Florida Blvd.; $25-$50; 407-841-0071; rucksackmarch2013.kintera.org.
Nov. 16-Nov. 17
The Horrible Hundred 2013 Deemed “Central Florida’s Toughest Ride,” this grueling race invites cyclists to choose between 100-, 70- and 35-mile routes throughout Central Florida, with a two-day cycling and fitness expo for spectators which showcases a bevy of local bike shops and other sports-related vendors, plus enjoy live music in the park and lunch options served up at a food truck fiesta. 10 am Saturday, 6 am Sunday; Waterfront Park, Clermont, East Avenue and State Road 50, Clermont; $40-$50, free for spectators; horrible-hundred.com.
Mylan WTT Smash Hits Musician Elton John and former pro tennis player Billie Jean King host a charity tennis evening event featuring players Venus Williams and Andy Roddick, plus live concerts to raise money and in support of the AIDS Foundation. 4:30 pm Sunday; ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista; $50-$125; 407-574-2599; wttsmashhits.com.
Florida Blue Florida Classic After several decades, two Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University, continue to take the field to battle it out on the gridiron in this annual college football game tradition at the Citrus Bowl. After weathering a suspension last year, the FAMU Marching 100 band returns to center field to put on what will, without a doubt, be a stunning halftime performance. 2 pm Saturday; Florida Citrus Bowl, 1610 W. Church St.; $10.75; floridaclassic.org. Purple Strides 5K Strider Events hosts a fundraising 5K run/walk around the Baldwin Park area to raise money for pancreatic cancer research and in support of cancer survivors. 8 am Saturday; Harbor Park, 4990 New Broad St.; free-$35; 704-408-4996.
Turkey Trot 5K Before gorging on a holiday meal, this annual 3.1-mile run has participants scurrying around downtown Orlando in support of Seniors First. Don’t be surprised to see some feather-filled costumes, as well! Trust us, after participating in this run, you won’t feel as bad as you gobble up a huge holiday meal later in the day. 8 am Thursday; Lake Eola Park, North Eola Drive and East Robinson Street; free; 407-896-1160.
Nov. 28-Dec. 1
Old Spice Classic NCAA college basketball tournament featuring bracket-format games with eight teams, including Butler, LSU, Memphis and others. Various times Thursday-Saturday; ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista; $100; 407-939-1500; disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Nov. 29-Dec. 1
7th Annual Festivals of Speed This three-day high-end car and airplane showcase comes to town toting a swanky jetport reception, a wine dinner and weekend-long luxury motorsports displays. Various times Friday-Saturday; Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes Resort, 4012 Central Florida Parkway; various prices; 352-385-9450; festivalsofspeed.com/orlando.