It’s the start of a new year at Disney and that can only mean one thing: it’s Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts season! Artist palette chocolate chip cookies, anyone?
Returning for its fifth year from January 8 to February 22, 2021, Epcot’s ode to the culinary, visual, and performing arts is swiftly becoming a Walt Disney World fan favorite. With food that’s a feast for both the eyes and mouth, musical acts and other entertainment around every corner, and art sprinkled across the park like pixie dust, we’d tend to agree.
“Another festival?”, you might be thinking. “But Epcot already has so many.” And you, my friend, would be correct. Yes, at four festivals in, you might wonder what makes the International Festival of the Arts worth a visit. The answer is a lot.
So, grab your paint brushes, put on your favorite Figment shirts, and be sure to bring your appetites, folks, as we dig into all you need to know about the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts 2021.
As you’d expect, the International Festival of the Arts looks quite a bit different this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the festival’s most beloved offerings have, unfortunately, had to be nixed. Fortunately, however, the modifications go a long way in creating an environment that feels safe while not making the festival any less fun to experience. Here are a few of the things you can expect:
- Temperature checks – Plan on having your temperature checked before entering any park or Disney Springs. Don’t sweat it (see what I did there?) if your temperature is above 100.4 degrees. You’ll have a chance to bring your temperature down to a Disney-friendly level in a cool-down tent before being checked again.
- Masks and social distancing – This one is a given. Be aware of others’ personal space when walking through the park and waiting in line, and plan to have your mask on unless you’re in one place eating or drinking.
- Park reservations – To help enforce social distancing, once you have your tickets, you’ll need to make a park reservation ahead of time for the day(s) you’d like to attend. Keep in mind that park hopping has made its blissful return to the parks, so if you’re planning on visiting multiple parks, be sure to plan accordingly.
- Character cavalcades – Mickey and Minnie don’t want to get sick either, so expect the character encounters to be further away than normal. Rather than meet-and-greets, catch a photo or two as they parade past in World Showcase or pop up in Future World throughout the day.
- A modified events schedule – To keep both guests and performers safe, many popular event offerings have likely been left off the schedule so far this year including the Disney on Broadway Concert Series, the Community Arts Showcase, living statues, complimentary seminars, and interactive workshops.
For more on what Walt Disney World is like during Covid-19, see our complete Covid-19 guide.
What Is the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts?
The Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts is a celebration of the culinary, performing, and visual arts. Whether dutifully filling in squares at the communal paint-by-number mural, fangirling during the Disney on Broadway Concert Series, eating (and drinking!) your way through the food studios, or admiring the endless pieces of art, the Festival of the Arts truly is a feast for all the senses.
The absolute best part of this festival is that almost everything is included in the price of your park ticket. We’re talking access to:
- More than 15 festival-exclusive food studios (food and beverage costs not included)
- Live visual art and musical performances
- Meet-and-greets with artists
- Interactive art experiences
- Fun photo opportunities
- Exclusive merchandise
- And a veritable gallery’s worth of art pieces throughout the park
In short, if you’re a fan of music, theater, food, or art, this is one festival you do not want to miss.
With so many shows to watch, things to buy, and treats to eat, it can be next to impossible to keep track of everything. Plus, entertainment offerings vary weekly, so remember to grab your Festival of the Arts Passport once you enter the park so you don’t miss anything.
If you’re easily tempted by tasty things or have a nasty habit of buying everything you touch (*raises hand slowly*), you might also want to snag one of Disney’s nifty gift cards you can wear around your wrist to make paying for stuff that much easier.
PRO TIP: We recommend checking out our ticket partner Undercover Tourist for great deals on discounted tickets.
When Is Festival of the Arts 2021?
This year, the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts runs seven days a week from January 8 to February 22, 2021. Epcot is currently open from 11am to 9pm daily, so be sure to plan your time accordingly.
When Is the Best Time to Visit the Festival of the Arts at Epcot?
In general, January and February are some of the best months to travel to the Walt Disney World Resort, and that still hasn’t changed with Covid-19. Crowds are much more manageable and temperatures are mild (between about 74 and 53 degrees on average), two winning qualities when visiting somewhere as sticky as Central Florida.
Overall, we’d recommend steering clear of any holidays when schools might be out to avoid a potential onslaught of locals. So, consider giving the extended weekends of January 16-18 and February 13-15 a pass.
Where to Stay for the Festival?
Planning on staying on Disney property while visiting the International Festival of the Arts? Choose an Epcot-area resort to spend less time driving and more time eating your way through your festival bucket list. Because #priorities.
Thanks to the Disney Skyliner, you now have even more places to rest your head, all while staying close to the artsy action and with some breathtaking bird’s-eye views as a bonus.
Walking Distance Resorts in the Epcot Area
Disney’s Beach Club Resort (currently closed)
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn (currently closed)
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (Good Neighbor Hotels)
Resorts With Disney Skyliner Access to Epcot
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Our Top Tips for 2021
Here at Park Savers, we’re all about helping you make the most out of whatever it is you’re trying to do while exploring the Disney parks and resorts, whether that’s your time, money, or trip in general. So, here are our top recommendations for maximizing your Festival of the Arts experience:
1. Visit for a couple of days if you can.
With lighter crowds and pleasant temperatures throughout the festival, Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts can comfortably be enjoyed over a day and evening. However, with so much to see and do, we’d suggest stretching the fun out to two days if you have the time. You’ll get to try more dishes and drinks on your to-do list and not have to rush through all the amazing art and performances there are to see.
Or, if you’d rather not spend two full days at Epcot, capitalize on the return of park hopping (yay!) by splitting your second day at another park and returning to Epcot for the evening. Because I think we can all agree that Epcot nights are the best nights.
2. Steer clear of the weekends.
The rest of the world may not be aware of the awesomeness that is the Festival of the Arts just yet but trust us, the locals are definitely in on the secret. For blissfully light crowds, be sure to plan your visit for the weekdays (minus Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day).
3. Disney PhotoPass Photographers are your friends.
I know, I know – in many cases, when you see someone at a theme park offering to take your picture, you turn away as fast as possible just so you can avoid the inevitable sales push. For the uninitiated, that simply isn’t the case at Disney, and boy, are we glad about that.
Disney PhotoPass Photographers are simply there to help you make some magical memories with your crew. If you buy something, great! And oftentimes, thanks to fun props and magic shots, they’re shots you’d like to keep anyway. So don’t be shy, stop by and say “hello.” You might just leave with your favorite festival souvenir.
4. Plan your food, drink, and merchandise budget (and what you’d like to try) beforehand.
$7 for a plate here, $8 for a cocktail there. A few Wonderground Gallery postcards later and before you know it, you’re fretting over that last avocado margarita you bought during a moment of weakness (it’s just so darn refreshing!). That’s the problem with all of Epcot’s festivals: everything just looks so good!
Add in bunches of festival-exclusive merchandise and access to tons of beautiful, Disney-themed art and you have a disaster just waiting to happen. Save yourself the stress by making a list of your absolute must-try plates and set aside a certain amount of cash specifically for the festival if you’re worried about getting carried away. Disney’s wearable gift cards are great for staying on budget.
5. Divide your dishes and conquer more of your festival bucket list.
Sharing is caring. But in this case, sharing also means getting to try even more delicious bites and yummy drinks than you would have normally and saving money – both huge wins in our books.
6. Take time to connect and explore.
If there’s anything that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that connecting with people and a place is important. Fortunately, one of the beautiful things about Epcot is all the opportunities you have to learn about something new, whether it’s a different culture or some food you’ve never tried. That’s just as true with the Festival of the Arts.
While most of the international cast members have, unfortunately, had to return to their home countries due to Covid-19, you are still able to talk to one of the many artists visiting the festival. So, don’t just look then leave when visiting their booths. Spend a few minutes getting to know them and how Disney inspires them. And while you’re at it, why not try that dish you’ve been eyeing up, or surprise yourself! It’s sure to make your festival visit one you won’t forget.
Culinary Arts: Festival of the Arts 2021 Food Studios and Menus
As with Epcot’s other festivals, one of the biggest draws of the Festival of the Arts is the amazing food. At this festival, however, next-level plating makes dishes almost too pretty to eat. Seriously, these are some very ‘grammable plates, so get your filters ready. Unfortunately, with great beauty comes a bigger price tag. Expect to pay between $5-$9 for food and $4-$10 for drinks.
This year, guests can choose from 16 different “food studios”, as well as other festival-exclusive snacks and treats, spread throughout the park, including the new Vibrante & Vívido Food Studio. Tucked between France and Morocco, this booth serves up eats as colorful as the Latin flavors featured.
Ready to start planning your culinary hopes and dreams for the festival? (We won’t judge, pinky promise.) Read on for the complete list of Festival of the Arts 2021 food studios and menus.
Festival of the Arts 2021 Menus
The Artist’s Table – Near The American Adventure
Beef Wellington, Pan-Seared Scallop, Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate-Chip Cookie
Sipping Chocolate Flight, Symphony in Chocolate Flight, assorted beers and wines
Citrus Blossom – Near Showcase Plaza
Orange Cream Shake (non-alcoholic), fruit-forward assorted beers and wines
Cuisine Classique – Near Germany
Red Wine-braised Beef Short Rib, Coq au Vin, Opera Cake, Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate-Chip Cookie
Assorted beers, wines, and ciders
Decadent Delights – Near Promenade Refreshments
Raspberry Soft-serve Ice Cream, Lemon Soft-serve Ice Cream, Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine Redemption Cookie
Assorted beers (flight available)
The Deconstructed Dish – Near Showcase Plaza
Deconstructed Reuben, Deconstructed BLT, Deconstructed Strawberry Cheesecake
Rainboba, Deconstructed Breakfast (with and without alcohol)
El Artista Hambriento – Near Mexico
Chile Relleno, Pork Belly Pastor, Taco de Chocolate
Mexican Craft Beer, Diego Pomegranate Margarita, Frida Carrot Margarita
Festival Favorites – World Showplace
Remy’s Ratatouille, Charcuterie with Meats and Cheeses, Lemon Blood-Orange Tart, Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate-Chip Cookie
Blue Sky Black Cherry Boba Freeze (non-alcoholic), assorted beers (flight available), Cold Fashioned Coffee Cocktail
Goshiki – Near Japan
Stone Garden (Red Bean Mousse), Sushi Donut, Vegetable Gyoza
Pink Snow, Masu Sake in a Traditional Personalized Wooden Cup, Haiku Draft Lager
L’Art de la Cuisine Francaise – Near France
Warm Creamy Brie in a House-made Bread Bowl, Black Winter Truffle Croissant, Molten Chocolate and Raspberry Cake, Trio de Macarons
Frozen French Martini, assorted wines
L’Arte di Mangiare – Near Italy
Sweet Sausage Fried Risotto Balls, Lobster Ravioli, Cream-filled Italian Doughnut
Italian Margarita, Amaretto Bellini, Bergamotto, assorted wines and beer
Masterpiece Kitchen – Near Canada
Wild Mushroom Risotto; Salmon and Cream Gâteau; Vanilla, Rose Water and Pistachio Panna Cotta
Classic Sidecar with a Chocolate Twist, assorted wines and beer
Mosaic Canteen – Near Morocco
Mediterranean Flatbread, Harissa-roasted Rack of Lamb, Orange Cake with Cinnamon-Chocolate Mousse
Assorted beer and hard cider
The Painted Panda – Near China
Pork and Water Chestnut Meatballs, Sichuan Red Hot Mala Shrimp
Fortune Cookie, Kung Fu Punch, Sea Butterfly, bubble tea, jasmine draft beer
Painter’s Palate – World Showplace
Prime Steak Tartare, Salt-roasted Beet Tartare (plant-based), Pistachio Cake
Kalimotxo, Frozen Rusty Nail Cocktail, wine
Pop Eats – Near Showcase Plaza
Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup with French Onion and Bacon Grilled Cheese, Shrimp Ceviche, Almond Frangipane Cake, Modern-designed Sugar Cookie with Strawberry Filling
#RainbowSherbetGlitterDreamAle, Popping Bubbles Cocktail, Tomato Soup Can Bloody Mary
NEW! Vibrante & Vívido – Between Morocco and France
Chilled Seafood Cocktail, Blue Corn Pupusa, Shrimp Ceviche, Passion Fruit Mousse
Coconut and Passion Fruit Smoothie (non-alcoholic), Frozen Piña Colada, Passion Fruit Daiquiri
Festival exclusives (in addition to the regular menu):
Lobster Poutine, assorted beer and wine
Festival exclusives (in addition to the regular menu):
Plant-based Bratwurst, Warm Brown Sugar-stuffed Pretzel, Frozen Slushy Coca-Cola or Minute Maid Lemonade, assorted beer
Festival exclusives (in addition to the regular menu):
Red Velvet Funnel Cake
Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
Festival exclusives (in addition to the regular menu):
Art-inspired lattes sprinkled with various candy pieces
Too Many Treats to Decide? Try the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine
With so many tempting dishes to try, how is one meant to narrow it down? If you have as much of a problem deciding as I do (they just all sound so good!), let this little culinary scavenger hunt do all the hard work for you. Just open your passport to find the list, and be sure to collect the stamps for each item as you try it. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with a huge chocolate chip cookie as pretty as a piece of art for free!
Performing Arts: Festival of the Arts 2021 Performances
As a proud musical theater nerd (the first step is acceptance), this writer’s favorite part of the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts is without a doubt the musical performances. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the performing arts part of the festival looks a little different from past years, what with the hiatus of the Disney On Broadway Concert Series.
Fortunately, Disney delivered on a replacement that is just as enjoyable. For 2021, listen to all your Disney favorites in beautiful, multi-part harmony with the all-new showcase from the fan-favorite Voices of Liberty: The Disney Songbook.
But, that’s not all you can count on for entertainment this year. Let’s dig into all the thrilling performances you can catch at the 2021 Festival of the Arts.
PRO TIP: Be sure to check out the schedule of events for the day you’ll be visiting and make note of any performances you can’t miss to save yourself lots of time and steps during your visit.
Festival of the Arts 2021 Performing Acts
NEW! Voices of Liberty: The Disney Songbook – American Gardens Theatre
Sit back, relax, and just try to keep yourself from singing along (we bet you can’t do it!) as the Voice of Liberty perform some of your favorite Disney hits.
Art Defying Gravity (daily) – World Showplace
Strength, acrobatics, and imagination combine in this heart-racing, gravity-defying act.
Epcot Pianist (daily) – World Showplace
Hum along to your favorite show tunes as you unwind with a drink and a plate of something tasty.
JAMMitors (daily) – Near Canada at the Mill Stage
Rest your feet and eat to the beat.
Visual Art in Performance (Thursday-Sunday) – World Showplace
Prepare to be amazed as a guest visual artist paints some of the most beloved Disney characters in minutes right before your eyes.
Visual Arts: Festival of the Arts 2021 Interactive Experiences, Photo Ops, and More
Musical performances are nice and cocktails are dandy, but no trip to the Festival of the Arts is complete without enjoying all the visual arts on offer throughout the park. Whether shopping for the perfect artsy souvenir, posing for the camera while recreating one of the world’s most famous paintings, or channeling your inner Van Gogh during the Animation Academy, there’s sure to be something for everyone.
- Chalk Art – Future World East
- Art of Disney – American Adventure Pavilion
- Marvel at the colors and traditions of Día de Muertos at the Mexico Folk Art Gallery – Mexico Pavilion
- Set sail with the Vikings at the Stave Church Gallery – Norway Pavilion
- Travel to the Shanghai Disney Resort without ever leaving Epcot at the House of the Whispering Willows – China Pavilion
- Learn about all things “kawaii”, meaning cute, at the Bijutsu-kan Gallery – Japan Pavilion
- Take a trip into our nation’s heritage at Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art (produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian) – American Adventure Pavilion
- Dig into Saharan cultures at Race Against the Sun: Ancient Technique to Modern Competition – Morocco Pavilion
- Explore the story of French theater, dance, music, and movies at Tale as Old as Time: French Storytelling on Stage and Screen – France Pavilion
Art-Inspired Photo Ops
Believe it or not, these creative photo backdrops are one of this writer’s favorite parts of the Festival of the Arts (blame it on all those art history classes in college, or maybe one too many festival cocktails). There are eight of these magical photo ops sprinkled throughout the park, so keep your eyes peeled.
Have your camera ready or grab the nearest PhotoPass Photographer as you and your Disney crew bring some of history’s greatest paintings to life. And if you grab a couple of snaps of your group doing your best Washington Crossing the Delaware or Frieda Kahlo impressions, be sure to tag us on Instagram so we can see!
Merchandise and Artist Galleries
If there’s one thing Disney fans love as much as going to the parks, it’s buying Disney merch. And fortunately, the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts has plenty to go around. Whether you’re looking for a new piece of art for your Disney gallery wall or the perfect Figment souvenir, you’re sure to find something at one of the many booths located throughout the park.
Even if you’re not planning on buying, be sure to check out each of the artist studios. Disney is bringing together more than 100 artists (both from Disney and visiting artists) to share their passion with you. So when you swing by the artist galleries, take a minute or two to talk with the artists about their process. You may just walk away with a personalized piece of art, or be inspired to create your own.
When it comes to art, oftentimes the best part is making it yourself. Luckily, the Festival of the Arts is chock full of opportunities for kids of all ages to unleash their inner Picasso.
The world is your runway. Design your own t-shirt, from color to style, and watch it be printed in front of your eyes.
Expression Section: A Paint-by-Number Mural (Daily, Park Open to 5pm)
Grab a cup of paint and a paintbrush as you join forces with other Epcot guests to complete a paint-by-number mural. Another writer favorite!
Kidcot Fun Stops
Who says Kidcot Fun Stops are just for kids? Roll up your sleeves and get in touch with your inner child as you create your own art-inspired masterpiece.
Figment’s Brush With The Masters
Experience the Festival of the Arts through new eyes with this scavenger hunt through World Showcase with Figment. Just buy a map and the corresponding stickers from Disney Traders or World Traveler at International Gateway, then set out in search of Figment as he hides in famous artworks. When the scavenger hunt is complete, return with the map to wherever you bought it for a surprise.
Chalk Full of Character
While you’re at it, keep a weathered eye open for some of your favorite Disney characters hidden throughout World Showcase.
Animation Academy (Daily, 12:30-1:30pm at America Gardens Theatre)
Another writer favorite! Join a Disney Animation artist for a hands-on drawing lesson. By the end of the step-by-step class, you’ll walk away with a Disney character sketch of your very own.
Well, we hope that you enjoy the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts as much as we do! Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, this inspired festival is filled with things to do, whether you’re an art enthusiast or a family on their first quarantine vacation. And besides, if there was ever a time we needed a bit more color in our lives, it’s certainly now.
Amber is a proud former Walt Disney World Cast Member, an unabashed travel addict, and a hospitality and tourism specialist with over 10 years in the industry. She likes getting her wanderlust fix by sharing her favorite park tips and tricks with other Disney fans. When she isn’t working, you can usually catch her in a hot power yoga class or spending way too much money at Disney Springs.