Walt Disney World has announced details and dates for the 2022 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 dates & details, why it’s our favorite event of the year at Epcot, and potentially higher crowds in January and February 2022 at Walt Disney World.
For those unfamiliar with it, the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is the newest special event of the year at Epcot, even though it’s not really new anymore (2022 will be its sixth year). Despite that, Festival of the Arts is still the least-popular of Epcot’s events, and doesn’t draw nearly as many tourists as the long-running Food & Wine Festival. That’s despite Epcot’s Festival of the Arts being far superior to Food & Wine.
As is probably clear from our effusive praise over the years, Festival of the Arts is 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.
Before we get carried away with praising the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, you should probably be cognizant of crowds. It might seem like an eternity ago now, but they were pretty bad for the first three months of last year before everything fell apart and Walt Disney World closed. (For a refresher, read Peak Crowds in Winter “Off-Season” at Walt Disney World.)
When the 2021 Epcot Festival of the Arts was announced last October, we predicted that those crowds would not materialize. That prediction ended up being incredibly accurate, which we mention here not so much as a victory lap, but because we’re anticipating the opposite of that once again for the 2022 Epcot Festival of the Arts.
The reasons we forecast low crowds for this January and February (save for holiday weekends) was due to the lack of international travel, conventions, youth events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, and runDisney offerings.
Moreover, there was the likelihood that a holiday season spike in cases would have a ripple effect resulting in many cancellations, even as numbers started to subside. All of that turned out to be true, and mid-January through mid-February was the slowest stretch of the year at Walt Disney World–until a similar scenario played out in August and September.
It’s likely that 2022 will be a very different story. As discussed in Reopening of International Travel’s Impact on Walt Disney World Crowds, there’s likely to be a lag between the November lifting of the border closure and significant international travel. I would expect that to start in January and February, with a significant spike in the number of foreign visitors to the parks.
Additionally, runDisney is back with races in January and February. Conventions and youth sporting events are both returning. On top of that, there are domestic guests who haven’t been able to book hotel reservations or score discounts for the first three months of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. Others might remember how attractive January and February were this year, and expect a repeat of that without considering why 2022 will probably be different.
Crowds have been notoriously unpredictable for the last year-plus, but all signs point to January and February 2022 being a reversion to normal at best, and an exaggerated version of early last year at worst. If I had to bet on crowds being bad or good at this point–with no “in between” option or additional nuance–I’d choose bad.
About the only thing that could dampen attendance would be another wave of cases brought on by indoor household gatherings for the holidays. That’s possible and I don’t want to be overly optimistic about something that’s beyond my credentials, but Florida got hit so hard with its late summer wave that things getting really bad yet again seems unlikely. The significant number of natural infections coupled with vaccinations will hopefully form a wall of immunity that results in a less less pronounced—or nonexistent—holiday spike in Florida. (Other states are a potentially different story, but people cancel on headlines about Florida.)
With all of that said, we’ve still gone as far as to recommend planning a Walt Disney World trip around Festival of the Arts to some people. While February has fallen on our 2021-2022 Best and Worst Months to Visit Walt Disney World(and January probably will move down another slot or two in our next update), it’s still a subjectively great time to visit.
The weather tends to be fantastic, there’s a more laid back vibe to the parks, and it can be enjoyable even if attendance is elevated. There are so many good reasons to visit in January and February that we’d recommend strategically picking one of the better weeks (see our January 2022 Crowd Calendaror February 2022 Crowd Calendar) and going. Even with potentially higher crowds, it’ll be a good time!
Anyway, that’s our normal “pitch” for a visit in January or February to enjoy the 2022 Epcot International Festival of the Arts.
Here’s what we know about what’s returning for next year’s Festival of the Arts at Epcot, which is set to begin on January 14, 2022 and run until February 21, 2022:
Culinary delights from Food Studios around World Showcase
The Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine — a fun food stroll featuring five delicious sweet and savory treats
Chalk artists turning walkways into stunning landscapes and portraits
Photo ops where you can step into famous artwork
A paint-by-number mural
Figment’s Brush with the Masters scavenger hunt
Performance and visual artists
Special festival merchandise
These are just preliminary, partial details. Walt Disney World has indicated it will release more info on the 2022 Epcot International Festival of the Arts in the weeks and months to come.
The big change for the 2022 Epcot International Festival of the Arts is that we know the Disney on Broadway concert series is returning after its hiatus this year. Walt Disney World has confirmed this, indicating that entertainers and a schedule will be released at a later date (and, we assume, dining packages).
Here’s what the entertainment page says for the concert series: “Delight in favorite DISNEY ON BROADWAY show tunes performed live–January 14 through February 21, 2022. Get swept away by the songs you love during DISNEY ON BROADWAY performances at EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. Sit back and sing along with show-stopping numbers from legendary Disney musicals. Every 2 weeks, we’ll welcome different pairs of DISNEY ON BROADWAY stars to perform some of the songs they helped make famous, plus other sensational tunes. Check back later for updates.”
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 2021 Epcot Food & Wine Festival–a more popular and higher-revenue event for Walt Disney World–we’re guessing the same will occur for the 2022 Epcot Festival of the Arts. At this point, that’s probably a resources issue more than anything else. Our expectation at this point is that Walt Disney World tries getting the normal festival season back on track in time for the 2022 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
Ultimately, we’re pretty satisfied with the tentative lineup for the 2022 Epcot International Festival of the Arts. This year’s “Taste of” event was really good given the circumstances, managing to work around the sea of construction walls and all of the health safety restrictions to produce an enjoyable event–the best of the modified festivals at Epcot.
Perhaps the 2022 Epcot International Festival of the Arts will prove to be a similar success story–the first fully normal Epcot festival. With the Disney on Broadway concert series already confirmed as returning, that really leaves only the interactive workshops and a handful demonstrations. Ongoing construction in Future World throws a monkey wrench into some of that more than anything health safety or staffing related, but there’s probably enough space for everything to return as normal. Either way, we’re really excited for the Epcot’s 2022 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 2022 Epcot International Festival of the Arts or will you be sitting this one out? Excited that the Disney on Broadway concert series is returning? Think any of the other demonstrations or seminars will return? 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!