The Complete Guide to Epcot Festivals
Helping you decide which of Epcot's four festivals to plan your Disney World trip around
If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort you have to check out these four outstanding Epcot festivals. EPCOT- Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow…or at least that’s what our revered Disney leader Walt wanted it to be. Unfortunately, he passed before having the opportunity to build his city. The name however has been used to create a theme park representing the planet earth and world travel.
Along with it’s 11 existing countries, amazing restaurants, and earth conscious experiences and rides; 4 times a year EPCOT also becomes the epicenter of Disney World based festivals. Epcot festivals are always a great experience, the question becomes, which one should you plan your trip around? Read on for your guide to four outstanding Epcot festivals.
Epcot Festival of the Arts (mid January – mid February) #artfulepcot
The Epcot Festival of the Arts is relatively new, having run for just 2 years (and counting) and is my personal favourite. This festival celebrates…well….the arts! Everything from food, to painting, to crafts, to music and even Broadway performances are highlighted at the Epcot Festival of the Arts. Of the Epcot festivals, I find that festival is the easiest for guests to enjoy fun interactions with.
Food at the Epcot Festival of the Arts
There are food booths interspersed throughout the world showcase. These venues specialize in serving food and drinks with an artistic spin on them. They are usually plated with extra thought or prepared in a unique way, like sous-vide. While there are less food booths here than at other Epcot festivals, the food served at the Festival of the Arts tend to be a bit more unique and intricate.
Get into the Art at Epcot Festivals
The world showcase also has a few #artfulepcot photo spots where you can really get into the painting. These artful moments are photo sets, boxes of sorts, that you can walk into so that it looks like you are actually in the painting. Now is your chance to be the Mona Lisa.
Broadway at the Epcot Festival of the Arts
On select nights during the Epcot Festival of the Arts, guests have the opportunity to catch up to three performances per day put on by Disney Broadway musical stars. The singers usually have some association to Disney on Broadway. You may see a performer from Mary Poppins, the Lion King, Tarzan or another on stage musical which has a Disney connection. The artists sing songs from a variety of Disney productions and are phenomenal. The line to get into to see the performances at the American Garden Theatre can get long, so if you wish to skip it, you can obtain advanced tickets through a dining package.
Shopping at the Festival
While the festival is taking place, Disney artists set up booths all along the world showcase where they sell their Disney based art pieces. Just walking around and enjoying the fabulous art can make for a fun day. Along with the art from the artists, guests can also purchase Epcot festival specific merchandise which can be very cute.
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Take an Art Class
During the Epcot Festival of Arts, guests can sign up for special art classes which take place at the Festival Center. These classes may involve cartooning, landscape art, painting and so much more. You can sign up for a class and learn to draw like a pro.
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival (start of March – end of May) #Freshepcot
The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is the longest running of the Epcot festivals, having just recently celebrated its 25th year. This is by far the prettiest festival of all, with hundreds of thousands of fresh smelling and brightly coloured flowers being planted all around the park. The smell is just delightful.
Food at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
There are quite a few food booths added to the world showcase for the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. The dishes found at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival tend to be based on the natural side and focus on the agriculture process. Some of the foods available are even local to the area. The tastes are gourmet and the plating is well thought out. The process that creates each component in the dish are featured while still paying serious attention to the final product.
The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Topiaries
I never really appreciated the art of gardening and topiaries until I was exposed to them at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. All around the park there are fabulous examples of topiaries in the form of Disney’s greatest characters. They are truly intricate and detailed…yet partially held together with bobby pins. One could spend all day wandering around Epcot, appreciating these spectacular topiaries.
The Garden Rocks Concert Series
Most nights during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival there are wonderful performances by popular musicians at the American Gardens Theatre. Apparently rock stars love a little Disney as well. There are some big names who play complimentary concerts including The Guess Who, Smash Mouth, Simple Plan, and Survivor. Show up early to get a seat or grab guaranteed seat tickets via dining package as these shows can sell out and are definitely worth it.
Shopping at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Along with very cute Epcot festivals related merchandise, there are also shopping booths placed all around the world showcase which sell garden related products! You can find anything from your garden gnomes, to garden lights and even your own topiary starter kit.
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Classes and Tours (tea and butterflies)
For those who are interested, you can sign up in the Festival Centre at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival to take classes on agriculture, gardening and farming. These can include specialized classes based on subjects like caring for your cacti, etc.. There also a few tours available including one focusing on the United Kingdom’s tea garden. Some classes and tours will cost a little extra, but if it is within your budget and piques your interest then the tours can be really cool.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (September to mid November)
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is by far the most popular of the Epcot Festivals. Apparently there are many guests out there who love to wine and dine. While there are already quite a few international stops in the park, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival brings in almost 40 extra locations in which to dine including Greece, Spain, India and Australia. If you are into eating….The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is just perfect for you.
The Food and Wine
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a celebration of…well you guessed it…Food and Wine! Up to 40 extra food booths appear in Epcot augmenting the existing countries already fabulous international dining options. This is all for Disney guests dining pleasures. These food and wine booths set out to create an international dining experience, with each country featuring 3-4 dishes of their own as well as their favourite drinks. Eating around the world can be an absolute blast at Epcot festivals! Just remember to drink water and consider your spending….there are so many options.
Special Food Parings and Meals
For the foodies out there, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival showcases a few food and wine pairings that are available to guests willing to pay the price. There are a variety of meals at select countries which take place throughout the festival which are headed by famous chefs. The meal is designed and created just for the event and a drink is paired to each plate. At these events, diners feel nothing short of gourmet.
The Eat to the Beat Concert Series
Head on over to the American Gardens Theatre Stage to enjoy a performance from the Eat to the Beat Concert Series. This may include acts from a variety of popular musicians from Styx to Boys II Men, to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and everything in between. Get in line early or purchase a dining package to assure yourself a seat as the Epcot festivals concerts fill up fast.
Food and Drink Classes
If you are interested in brushing up on your cooking skills, or maybe looking to learn a little bit more about a certain food or drink, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival offers a selection of classes which guests can sign up for in advance! Make sure you check online to see what courses are available on which days and how you can sign up for them!
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Merch
During the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival there are a few merchandise booths set up selling festival themed souvenirs. The merchandise is often sought after, especially items such as handbags and purses from Dooney and Bourke.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (December)
There is no better time to visit Walt Disney World than during the holidays! There are so many extra special events taking place all around the world and one of the best ones is at Epcot! The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays celebrates the holiday seasons of a variety of countries and cultures. Food and drink, stories, and songs fill the park making this one of Epcots festival an amazing month to be at Walt Disney World.
Food and Drink at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
Have you ever wondered what other countries and cultures eat during the holidays? So have I! I mean, of course I have thought about this…I am a travel blogger…but that’s beside the point. During the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays a few extra food booths appear in the world showcase providing us with examples of meals, treats and drinks consumed around the world during this seasonal time. The portion sizes of these samples are a bit larger than at most Epcot festivals and therefore cost slightly more…but they are very good.
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The Candlelight Processional
The Candlelight Processional is the highlight of many festival goers experiences. Every year a selection of A-list celebrities take a few days out of their busy schedules and come to Disney World. They read the story of Christmas supported by a large choir of both professional and student singers. The choir is large enough to take over the majority of the American Gardens Theatre Stage and are accompanied by an 80 piece orchestra. This is one of the most beautiful ways to hear familiar Christmas Carols. This year I was lucky to listen to Whoopi Goldberg’s reading. You may prefer one of many other famous celebrities reading the story of Christmas including Neil Patrick Harris and Kurt Russel. If you are interested in seeing the Candlelight Processional, I would suggest purchasing a dining package to guarantee your seat. The stand by line starts almost 2 hours before the concert and there is no guaranteed seating in stand-by.
Listen to the Stories of Christmas
As there are a variety of countries represented in the Epcot world showcase, one can assume each individual culture has their own unique holiday folklore. During the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, the folklore of each nation is artistically told and performed by the characters whom for which they were written. I had a great time listening to Father Christmas in the UK.
Epcot Christmas Fireworks
If Disney knows how to do anything….they know how to do fireworks. At the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, Disney adds an extra special Christmas ending to their regular fireworks show ‘Illuminations: Reflections of Earth”. Essentially they blast off as many fireworks as possible for the Christmas finale, complete with screamers and all. It blew my mind. If you are a fireworks fan, I am sure you will enjoy it.
So there you have it, the 4 Epcot Festivals in a nutshell! Which of these festivals appeals to you and why?