Planning to be in Florida after the New Year? Then you have to check out the Epcot International Festival of the Arts at Walt Disney World! Fine arts, performing arts, and culinary arts take the stage during this unique festival celebration where nothing is ever ordinary.
I attended the Epcot International Festival of the Arts preview as a guest of Walt Disney World, but all opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands we love that make this blog possible!
If you follow me on social media, then you’ll know how much of a Disney freak I am. I’ve been an annual passholder for many years now, and as much as I try to get it out of my system, I can’t seem to shake my love of The Happiest Place on Earth.
Growing up in Florida, I didn’t get to go to the parks much as a child. My Nana raised me on a retiree’s income, so we couldn’t afford it unless it was a school field trip.
I suppose now, as a 30-something, I’m making up for lost time, going as often as I can manage.
Epcot was the park we usually went to on those field trips, thanks to its educational nature. We enjoyed getting out of class and getting to enjoy a Disney day, but you know – education was involved, so we tended to get bored very quickly.
Ironically enough, Epcot is now my favorite park, and I always look forward to festival season! When summer draws to a close, the Food & Wine Festival kicks off a 9-month whirlwind of different events – the newest of which is the International Festival of the Arts.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of every day life.” Pablo Picasso
If you’ve been to the Festival of the Arts, you know it’s as if the folks at Disney took this quote and applied it directly to it. From the exciting menus to the eclectically gorgeous paintings to the exuberance found in the Disney on Broadway Concert Series, this festival grows and evolves more and more each year.
The International Festival of the Arts picks up where the former Festival of The Masters left off, and then some.
Obviously, the motivator for me personally is the absolutely gorgeous food that can be found all over the park! But as an inherently artsy person, strolling past the tents full of whimsical and stunning paintings, drawings, and photographs while I munch and sip is not lost on me.
When Is The Epcot Festival of the Arts Held?
The dates are different from year to year, but the Festival of the Arts generally takes place between mid-January and late February. Check the official Disney website to see when it’s happening this year!
What To Do at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts
Feast Your Eyes on Some Gorgeous Artwork.
I am a huge Disney fan, but aside from loads of old VHS and DVD cases, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the walls of my house. At least, not until this year. Disney artists from all over the world come to Epcot to display (and sell!) their works along the Art Walk, located around the World Showcase.
With over 100 artists in attendance, I challenge you to not find one thing you wouldn’t love to display in your home.
And when you do find the one, they let you buy it (or a print or poster version of it)!
I snagged a print of the Illuminations-themed painting below, and it’s hanging in my bedroom. The fireworks show is very special to me, and is being replaced this year after over 20 years running. I love that I have a little piece of it forever.
Even the festival merchandise is beautiful! Everything is colorful and branded with the year, to help commemorate your visit.
Get In On the Action.
Have you ever wondered what you would look like in a famous painting or work of art? There are various Artful Photo Ops around World Showcase that invite you to do just that!
Stand next to George Washington as he crosses the Delaware, Scream with Edvard Munch, or become the Mona Lisa. New for 2019 was this Peter Pan storybook scene – I managed to convince my friend Julie from The Little Kitchen to hop in it with me!
In additional to these fun family memories, you can also
- Help complete the paint-by-number Interactive Wall Mural, and then take home a postcard-sized print of the complete work!
- Attend the Animation Academy and brush up on your drawing skills.
- Catch a free artsy seminar or (separate ticketed) workshop.
- Search for everyone’s favorite purple dragon around the park in Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt. Completing it rewards you with one of three limited edition coloring books to take home.
- Pose with the always entertaining Living Statues.
- Meet Celebration Mickey & Minnie! (2019 only – they move to Magic Kingdom after the festival)
Take In a Show.
One of the most dependable aspects of a Disney festival is choice entertainment, and the Festival of the Arts is no exception. Disney musicals captivate on Broadway and around the world, and Epcot brings a little piece of that home with the Disney on Broadway Concert Series.
Featuring show-stopping songs from award-winning musicals, you can catch a performance three times a day, every day during the festival in the America Gardens Theatre.
- Watch in awe as artists create stunning, short-lived Chalk Art on the sidewalks of Epcot!
- The Disney Performing Arts Showcase features marching bands and jazz ensembles from some of Central Florida’s best schools (located in the Fountain View Plaza; see Times Guide for show times)
- The Visual Art in Performance showcases renowned Disney artists, who create works of art right in front of your eyes on the Fountain View Plaza stage!
What To Eat at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts
Maybe the question should be, “How do I make enough time in one day to eat it all?”
The Painted Panda Food Studio
Disney really brought something special to the China Pavilion in 2019!
Master artist Wenbo Zhang joins the festival fun, keeping alive his traditional Chinese heritage through ages-old folk art. You can find him making Dragon’s Beard Candy and Sugar Painting custom lollipops that guests can purchase five days a week (check your Times Guide in the park for appearances).
Artsy Food & Drinks Around The World
There are so many different kinds of food to enjoy at the festival, you’re bound to find something you love! With 14 food studios, plus extra kiosks with tasty nibbles, the Festival of the Arts has really stepped up to its longer-running sister festivals.
The menu changes every year, but a few favorites reappear based on guest demand! These are just a few of my favorites…
L’Art du Cuisine Francaise
The chefs at the France Pavilion never fail to impress with their flavors and artistry! I sampled the entire menu this year, guided by Chef Bruno Vrignon from Chefs de France. That’s one thing about the chefs in France – they are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and the absolutely love what they do!
And it definitely shows when you look at the impeccable attention to detail they put into every dish.
As if warm, melty brie isn’t delicious enough on its own, they present it in the prettiest, most Instagram-worthy bread bowl ever.
This salmon terrine was a first for me, and I had such a hard time ruining the beautiful sun and moon theme they created. It was absolutely to die for, reminiscent of a creamy ratatouille.
The French know their desserts, and when I saw Valrhona lava cake on the menu, I was done for. I’ve made lava cakes before, but this particular one was out of this world! So absolutely molten, and the mixture of chocolate with the lovely dollops of fruit gelee made for some very tasty and surprising bites.
I absolutely failed at taking a post-lava shot, so I snagged this from a boomerang – you get the idea, though. LUSCIOUS.
Make plan to visit this year’s festival, which runs from January 18 through February 25, 2019!