Walt Disney World has announced details and dates for the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, which will be a global celebration of the visual, culinary, and performing arts. In this post, we’ll share everything we know thus far, plus why Festival of the Arts is our favorite event of the year at EPCOT.
For those unfamiliar with it, the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is the newest special event of the year at EPCOT, with 2021 being the festival’s 5th Anniversary. (Time flies!) It literally came out of nowhere in its first year to make a strong debut despite scant details beforehand, and has improved every year since. Well, aside from the crowds–but those aren’t really “part” of the event…they just come with it.
Festival of the Arts immediately became our favorite event of the year at Epcot. It’s not even a close call, either. It cherrypicks the best elements of Flower & Garden and Food & Wine, while also adding elements that are much more interesting and substantive. Most importantly, Festival of the Arts is imbued with the spirit of the original EPCOT Center, and offers an atmosphere, sense of life, and is permeated with the characteristic creativity and curiosity of EPCOT Center.
In the years since, we’ve gone as far as to recommend planning a Walt Disney World trip around Festival of the Arts to some people. While January and February have fallen on our 2020-2021 Best and Worst Months to Visit Walt Disney World, that’s more due to the surge of crowds during those months that has happened over the last couple of years.
The good news for January and February 2021 is that at least some of those crowds probably will not materialize. Weeks around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents’ Day still will almost certainly be busy.
Additionally, all weekends will likely be busy. If you’re thinking about doing EPCOT on a Saturday or Sunday, our EPCOT Photo Report: Stay Away on Weekendsis essential reading. It’s arguably the most important piece of advice for families visiting in the next few months. Those same ‘festival season’ trends apply during this event.
However, much of this year’s January and February crowd spike was driven by international travel, conventions, youth events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, and runDisney offerings. None of that will be happening in January or February 2021, making a visit to coincide with Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts (plus Florida’s best weather of the year, in my opinion) much more attractive!
Anyway, that’s our normal year “pitch” for the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. It is worth noting that the 2021 event will be continue the “Taste of” branding, suggesting that its offerings will be scaled back.
Here’s what we know about the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, which is set to begin on January 8, 2021 and run until February 22, 2021:
Indulge in over 15 Food Studios serving culinary art all around World Showcase
Explore and purchase the brilliant and diverse work of Disney and other invited artists on display in marketplaces encircling World Showcase Lagoon
Step into the scene at special photo locations scattered around the park
Participate in a paint-by-number mural that serves as a collaborative art project for all
Watch as visiting artists create magic right before your eyes
Catch performances by favorite EPCOT musical artists Mariachi Cobre and the JAMMitors.
Join an artful scavenger hunt and search for Figment around World Showcase
Shop for festival-exclusive merchandise
These are just preliminary, partial details. Walt Disney World has indicated it will release more details on the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts in the weeks and months to come.
Honestly, what was announced today sounds like the bulk of the event minus the Disney on Broadway concert series. This is a collaboration with Disney Theatrical that normally brings award-winning music and Broadway talent to the America Gardens Theatre stage in World Showcase.
Given that this is held in the same venue as the previously-cancelled Candlelight Processional and involves singing, our expectation is that this will also be cancelled. However, it is outdoors and crowds are significantly lower for this than Candlelight Processional, so it might be deemed safer. (It’s also less lucrative, so it might still be cut for budgetary considerations.)
In addition to the Disney on Broadway concert series, there are normally other premium events at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts called “Interactive Workshops.” These are usually held at the World Showplace Events Pavilion and are an upcharge.
Given that all of this was cancelled for the Taste of EPCOT Food & Wine Festival–a more popular event–we’re guessing the same will occur for Taste of EPCOT’s Festival of the Arts. That’s probably both a safety and resources issue. Our expectation at this point is that Walt Disney World tries getting the normal festival season back on track in time for the 2021 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival.
Ultimately, we’re pretty satisfied with the tentative lineup for the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. If you asked me two weeks ago whether this event would happen, I would’ve responded, “my bet is that it’s Festival of the Arts in name only, and is more about the food in 2021.” I know that because someone did ask, and that was my reply.
Without question, the 2021 event will be scaled back as compared to this year or any previous incarnation of the EPCOT Festival of the Arts. However, just the fact that it’s still happening and is more than just a rebranding of Food & Wine already is a small victory in my eyes. Walt Disney World is not going to resume normalcy all at once, with the flip of a switch. It’s a long road filled with incremental progress and aspects of the full guest experience gradually being restored. That’s exactly what is happening with the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts.
Did you attend Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts in any of its first few years? Are you excited to experience the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts or will you be sitting this one out? Think the Disney on Broadway concert series will happen? Any tips you want to share to make the most of the experience? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!