Festival of the Arts is the newest festival to grace Epcot and has quickly become my favorite. After a successful first year in 2017, Festival of the Arts expanded in 2018 and will continue each winter, covering several weeks in January and February. Festival of the Arts spans the time between Festival of the Holidays (between Thanksgiving and New Years) and Flower & Garden Festival in spring.
The great thing about these festivals is that is takes little advance planning to get full enjoyment out of them. It’s still good to know what to look out for!
This is a banal first step, but picking up a Festival Passport, Times Guide and Park Map are the key to guiding you through the experience. These are most plentifully located in brochure displays next to the Park Maps and Times Guides. They are easy to miss in your excitement entering the park, so stop and look closely after passing through the turnstile.
Use the Times Guide in conjunction with the Festival Passport to get all show and event times for the week you are there.
These unique Photopass photo opportunities are based on famous works of art. They were top on my must-do list for Festival of the Arts and were one of my favorite activities. The locations of these photo ops are listed on the Park Map, if you want to be sure you check out every one.
Aka paint by numbers mural! The hands on nature of this activity makes it one of the most fun at Festival of the Arts, and one of the most Instagrammable. At the beginning of the experience, you’re given brief instructions, a small cup of paint and a foam brush. Find the corresponding number on the mural and paint! Fun for everyone!
Seminars, Workshops, and Animation
All of these take place in the Odyssey building, which is home base for the Festival. Workshops are a paid experience that you can book in advance. These can and will sell out early, so book before you arrive. The topics covered vary widely. We did a workshop on animation cel painting, which I’ll review in more detail later. It was well worth the price and one of the highlights of our trip.
Seminars are free experiences covering topics from photography to jewelry making, watermelon carving to latte art, and lots of artful things in-between.
If you’re like us and miss the Animation Academy at Hollywood Studios, Festival of the Arts presents a new opportunity to showcase your prowess with a pencil. Animation Academy is a free experience that teaches you to draw a Disney character. So maybe your Mickey Mouse looks more like Mikey Mouse, but it’s all for fun!
The Disney on Broadway concert series (not pictured) is another gem in an overflowing mine cart of treasures. These concerts feature Broadway performers singing musical favorites. They occur in the American Gardens Theater on weekends, in the evening. Be sure to come early before showtime to get the best seats.
Art Walk was one of my favorite “slow down and enjoy” aspects of Festival of the Arts. In 2018, the back of the Festival Passport included pages to transfer artful rubbings. There is one per country, with directions on how to find it on each page. Some are easy to find, some require exploring (that’s the point!) They are small setups, so you can also look out for people clumped up at an otherwise inconspicuous wall.
The Odyssey building is the home base for Festival of the Arts. You might already plan to visit it for the food, workshops, or merchandise anyway, but be sure to stop through at least once to see that year’s display of art.
Strolling around Epcot and discovering art is such a simple but rewarding experience of the Festival. There is so much going on in both Future World and World Showcase that there will always be something interesting to stumble upon.
Each year has a new graphic theme with a full line of merchandise. Much of the Festival merchandise is worth a look, but you also have endless opportunity to buy art. You’ll see many of the artists themselves at their booths so you can make that connection between art and those who create it. Many artists also release special artwork for Festival of the Arts.
Lastly, what Epcot festival would be complete without food booths offering unique items inspired by the festival season? There are menus printed in the Festival Passport, but if you’re serious about it we recommend doing a little research on the current year’s items and go in with a plan.
You can easily pass a day in Epcot simply enjoying the atmosphere of Festival of the Arts. Part of the fun is discovering something new, so take your time and soak it all in!