A Year-Round Look at the EPCOT Festivals

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TouringPlans is pleased to welcome back guest author Brian McCumsey.

Close your eyes for a moment. Strap yourself in and travel with me in the airplane of your imagination . . .

We lift above the clouds . . . princesses and dragons emerge from the wispy white . . . ever-changing shapes tell endless stories. What if I told you there was a place that can change with the frequency of our firing synapses?

Okay, Okay. So, maybe that’s slightly overdramatic. But, you know what a Walt Disney World vacation feels like, and my overdramatization is not far from the truth.

The place I’m talking about is EPCOT. We may not have gotten Walt’s ideal for the Community of Tomorrow, but what we have is an ever-changing park, always in a state of becoming. If you went to EPCOT four times per year, you could have a vastly different experience.

I’m talking about the festivals! EPCOT is a park all about festivals.

 So, yes, of course I was overly dramatic–but indulge me for a bit–let’s travel together.

Destination #1 (Mid-January through Late February): Festival of the Arts

Festival of the Arts Studio Kitchen – Vibrante

My most recent trip to WDW was late January of 2021 and the Festival of the Arts was in full swing. Well, as full swing as it could be considering the times in which we were living. But, we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about how it has been and typically will be!

This festival reminds me a bit of a trip to visit my parents in Charleston, South Carolina. Take a stroll down Market Street, and you’ll see booths of artists and food vendors. The sights, the sounds, the smells are intoxicating.

At the Festival of the Arts, there are vendors everywhere. It’s like a market in the middle of a theme park. A market with rides? What could be better?!?

Festival Tip: Buy a souvenir from a vendor. How often do you get to go to an open air market in Walt Disney World?

Destination #2 (Early March through May or June):  Flower and Garden Festival

Tinkerbell Topiary and Fairy Garden 2020

My parents recently made a trip to EPCOT during the Flower and Garden Festival. My mom couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful it was! There is not another time when EPCOT is blooming with so much life! Flowers, butterflies, and the ever-popular character topiaries!

Do you have a green thumb? Well, this is the festival for you!

Love flowers but worry you’ll miss out on the food?  Well, worry not, my friend! This festival has beautiful colors and delicious eats!

Festival Tip: Take time to enjoy the beauty. The flowers and topiaries are worth the price of admission alone. Make sure to take time to stop and smell . . . well, the roses!

Destination #3 (Can be as early as mid July through mid-November):  Food and Wine Festival

Now we come to the one festival that rules them all. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, once again, but I feel like I hear more about Food and Wine than the rest of the festivals combined! It makes sense–this is the festival that started it all at EPCOT!

So, why is the Food and Wine Festival so famous?

Easy, it’s all in the name.  Food AND Wine. If either of these get you going, then this is your festival!  Imagine a leisurely stroll while you eat and drink your way around the world. Just make sure that you show up HUNGRY!

Even if you only sort of like food and wine, might I entice you with music? Typically there has been an Eat to the Beat concert series.  Food, wine, and a show? Yes, please!

Festival tip: Don’t make a dinner reservation. Try as many small plates as you can throughout the day. You probably won’t spend that much more, and you’ll get to dine on some of the most creative foods the world has to offer!

Destination #4 (Mid-November — Late December): Festival of the Holidays

Epcot Festival of the Holidays
©Rikki Niblett

The Festival of the Holidays may be the shortest of all the EPCOT festivals, but it is my personal favorite.

Why? Well, allow me to explain . . .

Imagine experiencing holiday celebrations all around World Showcase! Sights, sounds, and stories abound. I especially recommend experiencing this at night; something about slightly crisp air and the lighting of World Showcase at night increase the magic!

And, obviously, you’ll want to catch a showing of the Candlelight Processional! A celebrity narrator gives a retelling of the story of Christmas while a choir (featuring members of the Voices of Liberty and others) sing our favorite Christmas carols! (Note: Disney has not yet confirmed whether the Candlelight Processional will be offered for 2021.)

Festival Tip: Actually stop and listen to the stories about the various holiday celebrations. Unless this is a once in a lifetime trip, one fewer boat ride on Frozen Ever After or flight over the mountains on Soarin’ is a worthwhile cost to feel the ambiance and learn a bit about the rest of the world.

Eventually, it’s time to go home . . .

Four trips to EPCOT and four different experiences. If you live close by and can go all four times in one year (or more) then have at it.  If you’re like me and travel a distance to WDW and have to budget carefully to make it happen, then try planning your vacations at different times of the year. You’ll get a different experience each time you go!

Thanks for joining me on this trip! May the magic of Disney stay with you all throughout the year!

Do you have a favorite festival at EPCOT? Let us know in the comments.

Brian married a Disney-loving princess and quickly became an addict himself. He is a monthly columnist for WDW Magazine and loves attempting to craft the perfect sentence for others, like himself, who can’t simply wake up and drive to Orlando. While not living in a fairytale world, Brian resides with his family near Pittsburgh, PA.


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2 thoughts on “A Year-Round Look at the EPCOT Festivals

  • July 15, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Is there a menu listing equivalent? I thought that there was a lot of over lap in the food choices offered during the events. Maybe remembering wrong. I do know that from year to year, the festival will have returning favorite dishes.

  • July 15, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    Managed to get to all these festivals over the years – loved them all but I think my favourite is the Festival of the Arts which is amazing. We loved standing in famous paintings and having our photos taken. And the food was fabulous. We managed to eat a small plate from each country


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