Arts & Culture


Arts and entertainment have always been important to Lakeland residents.

“Lakeland has a thriving arts scene. Unlike any other major city around us, Lakeland is the only city to have every type of arts organization represented by a local company. I’m excited about the programming at our established arts organizations and energized by the grassroots and emerging artists in town. It is a great time to be creative and support the creative industries.” 
— Kerry Falwell, chair of the Mayor’s Council on the Arts and executive director of The Florida Children’s Museum

Calendars: Some good places to find upcoming arts events are the calendars published by LkldNow, the Mayor’s Council on the Arts and Polk Arts Alliance.

Performing Arts

Dance: Florida Dance Theatre offers professional and student productions throughout the year, including “The Nutcracker” and several leading-edge shows. Harrison School for the Arts also has a vibrant dance program that offers several dance concerts open to the public. Florida Dance Arts also offers dance concerts and festivals throughout the year. 

Theater: The RP Funding Center offers a Broadway series each season, offering a stop for contemporary touring shows as well as a venue for beloved classics. Lakeland Community Theatre continues its long run as a hotbed of talent for children and adults, staging musicals with a full orchestra pit, progressive stage reads, children’s productions and a troupe for those with disabilities – all often to a standing-room only audience. Florida Southern College’s Festival of Fine Arts programing offers a wide array of programming including dance, theater and musical recitals. 

Music: If your tastes run to the classical, the Lakeland Symphony Orchestraprovides the community with live symphonic and ensemble experiences, from its popular Cookie Concerts for young children to its opera nights. Whatever sound you’re looking for there is so much happening in Lakeland’s local music scene with live performances happening at so many local venues, we thought about dedicating a whole email to it; but we realized we have a whole calendar already set-up.  For current listings of live music offerings, check out LkldNow’s live music listings.

Visual Arts

Fine art: Lakeland’s fine arts scene includes the 55-year-old Polk Museum of Art, a Smithsonian affiliate with free admission to its two-story facility.  With a variety of permanent and visiting exhibits, the PMA also offers art classes, concerts, lectures and film series. It also is host to the much-loved two-day Mayfaire by-the-Lake art festival over Mother’s Day weekend. Smaller galleries and art exhibitions can be found at Florida Southern CollegeHarrison School for the ArtsPolk State College Gallery and Southeastern University. In addition, the largest collection of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright structuresare found on the Florida Southern College campus and tours are offered.

Fine art: Lakeland’s fine arts scene includes the 55-year-old Polk Museum of Art, a Smithsonian affiliate with free admission to its two-story facility.  With a variety of permanent and visiting exhibits, the PMA also offers art classes, concerts, lectures and film series. It also is host to the much-loved two-day Mayfaire by-the-Lake art festival over Mother’s Day weekend. Smaller galleries and art exhibitions can be found at Florida Southern CollegeHarrison School for the ArtsPolk State College Gallery and Southeastern University. In addition, the largest collection of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright structuresare found on the Florida Southern College campus and tours are offered.

Public art: You’ll see pieces of art dotting Lakeland’s landscape and wonder the back story. In 2004, the “Tribute to the Volunteer Spirit” sculpture by Albert Paley was added to the Lake Mirror landscape. The fiberglass swans you see around town are the result of a successful 2002 fundraiser called Swansation. You’ll also spot aluminum butterflies around the city, the beautiful product of a 2005 park fundraiser called Kaleidoscope Butterflies in Flight. As part of a Community Redevelopment Agency project, 100 murals are being painted and placed throughout the downtown and Dixieland areas. Platform Art, created in 2009, fuses the worlds of fashion, music, fine art and technology to foster exhibits and public art presentations.

Film: The historic Polk Theatre offers several theatrical events throughout the year, as well as classic and first-run films. The Silvermoon Drive-In offers first-run and favorite films throughout the year at one of the state’s few remaining drive-in theaters.

History and Family Friendly Museums

History Museums: Florida Air MuseumLakeland History & Cultural Centerand the Mulberry Phosphate Museum all offer important historical perspectives of Lakeland, as well as exhibits, lectures and events throughout the year.

Family spots: Cultural spots with appeal to young families include Florida Children’s Museum which will be in the soon-to-open Bonnet Springs Park, and Common Ground Playground.

Curious about the Latest on Lakeland’s Art and Culture?
You can find LkldNow’s latest reporting here.

Calling all creatives

If you are an artist or a creative type, you’ll find a vibrant community in Lakeland. From Artifact Studios, a 1924 warehouse turned art collective plus gallery space where local artists can rent space, to Buena Market’s pop-up markets featuring local creative makers, and Lakeland Community Theater’s auditions, there are lots of ways to participate in Lakeland’s art scene. 

Always free. Choose how often.

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