Epcot’s Festival of the Arts is back, and of course I was there on the first day to see what was new for this year. With amazing art, fantastic food, and performances by Broadway stars, this is one of my favorite Epcot festivals (and the fact that it’s held in winter when temperatures are reasonable makes it even better!) If you’re visiting Epcot Festival of the Arts with kids then read ahead for all you need to know about the best things to do, see and eat with little ones in tow.
For more information on the other Epcot festivals, read through my posts on the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.
Epcot’s Festival of the Arts with kids
The Art at Festival of the Arts
One of the best things about Festival of the Arts is the chance to score unique pieces of Disney art work and actually meet some of the artists whose work you’re purchasing. You can watch some of them at work and sometimes have art work signed.
Festival galleries are spread out around World Showcase, featuring both Disney and non-Disney artists, showcasing a wide variety of talents. There’s art to suite lots of different tastes so be sure to explore all of the different galleries.
There are some really interesting artists showcasing amazing talents and it was amazing to watch them at work. My children loved seeing the art and watching the artists create new pieces. Although some of the original pieces are very expensive, there are prints of many of them for sale that are much more affordable.
There is also an amazing interactive mural being created that we had a great time being part of. Guests are assigned a number, a pot of paint, and a paintbrush, and then instructed to paint five squares (only five!) with their number on – kind of like paint by numbers!
There was a line to participate in this throughout the day so it seems very popular, and I can’t wait to see the finished product when it’s complete (a Cast Member gives you a postcard of what it will look like at the end!)
There were also fantastic pastel chalk paintings, which were being worked on throughout the day. We got chatting to one of the artists who mentioned that she’d actually been terrible at art in school, but had really gotten into it since then and now it was her biggest passion, which I love.
My kids were really interested in watching the artists work and Harrison loved trying to guess what the finished product was going to be. There was even a kids chalk area where kids could play around with sidewalk chalk and be as creative as they like. Grayson was happy to play with this for ages!
The Food at Festival of the Arts
Remember when Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival in the fall always used to be the only place where the portable food kiosks popped up everywhere to offer new culinary delights? Now between all of the Epcot festivals there are food booths up throughout most of the year now, but I always look forward to the food at Festival of the Arts the most.
Why? Because the food at the festival is fabulous! Where the Food and Wine Festival food has gotten a little repetitive over the years, the food here is an absolute standout. Not only are there some new and exciting options, but they are definitely part of the art experience.
The food is beautifully prepared, with lots of really unique creations and some really fun deconstructed dishes. The fact that so much thought goes into the food presentation means that sometimes you do have to wait a little longer at the food booths for everything to be prepared, so do bear this in mind.
These were some of my favorite options as part of the Festival of the Arts this year:
Chorizo and Potato Empanada with Turmeric Aioli and Annatto Aioli from Vibrante & Vivido $6.75 – not only was this my very favorite thing to eat at the festival, but this is one of the best value for money. This is a full sized empanada and it’s packed full of chorizo and potatoes; it’s a great sized portion and could easily be shared. It’s very flavorful and has a bit of a kick to it, it was absolutely delicious.
Cast Iron-roasted P.E.I Mussels with Sautéed Tomatoes, Garlic, and Fresh Herbs from The Craftsman’s Courtyard $7.25 – this was the first thing I tried at the festival this year, and it was easily one of my favorites. The mussels had a great flavor and it was a great portion size. My only complaint was that it got a bit difficult to eat when you had all the empty shells in there, but it was really good otherwise.
Deconstructed Key Lime Pie from The Deconstructed Dish $6.25 – I haven’t always loved dishes from this booth, but I really enjoyed this. All of the elements were delicious on their own, as well as together, and nothing was too sweet. It’s also one of the most beautifully presented dishes!
Tomato Soup with Pimento, Bacon, and Fried Green Tomato Grilled Cheese from Pop Eats! $6.50 – the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich combo has been a popular food item at the Festival of the Arts for years; it’s a familiar dish in a world of sometimes unusual options, it’s great for kids or picky eaters, and it’s great value for money! This year the pimento grilled cheese option is new and was a great addition; there was a little bit of a kick from the pimento cheese but otherwise it was creamy and cheesy and full of flavor.
Decadent Valrhona Chocolate with Dark Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Brownie, and Cassis Mousse from Deco Delights $5.00 – this is a great sweet option. It’s a great price and since it’s so rich, it doesn’t matter too much that it’s not a huge portion. It’s very chocolatey but if you’re a chocolate lover, this is delicious!
The Merchandise at Festival of the Arts
As with any Disney special event, there is some new merchandise released. The merchandise includes all the usual offerings like t-shirts, spirit jerseys, hats, mugs, travel mugs, of course ears!
As well as the official Festival of the Arts merchandise, there are other vendors in the parks with unique offerings as well. I wanted pretty much everything at the Sugarboo & Co. booth, particularly these canvas zip bags.
But I think the best souvenirs from this festival have to be the pieces of art! If the thought of hanging a picture of Mickey Mouse on your wall horrifies you then don’t worry, there is plenty of Disney art that is more subtle and covers all aspects of Disney from the parks to the characters to the movies.
The Music at Festival of the Arts
My very favorite thing about Festival of the Arts (besides the food, of course!) are the concerts featuring Broadway stars. I love musicals of all kinds, but I admit that I have a real soft spot for Disney musicals. In years past, the concerts have featured performers such as Ashley Brown, Josh Strickland, and Kevin Massey (all of who are returning this year) as well as some new artists this year like Mandy Gonzalez.
We always take the time to watch these concerts and they are always absolutely amazing, with stars singing songs not only from the Disney musicals they have been in, but other Broadway shows. Harrison is a huge fan of musical theater so this is one of his favorite things about the festival!
There are three shows a night (at 5.30pm, 6.45pm, and 8pm) and the performers will change over the course of the festival. There is also a dinner package available at a variety of Epcot restaurants. For a list of performers and more information on the dinner package, go to the official Festival of the Arts website.
Overall, this festival is a great addition to Epcot, and something I would highly recommend experiencing if you visit Walt Disney World while it is going on. January and February don’t typically have a lot going on at Walt Disney World, and it’s actually really nice to be able to experience a special event while crowds are a little lower, and temperatures are mostly very comfortable.
There was a lot for the kids to see and do, and they both really enjoyed spending time at the festival. I really hope this is an event Disney continues to put on long into the future.