EPCOT Festivals at Walt Disney World are one of the best ways to get more bang for your buck from your EPCOT Park Ticket. But how can you make the most of your festival time? We’re sharing the best time to visit EPCOT Festivals, how to budget for all those single-serve dishes at festival kitchens, and the best Epcot Festival tips for adults and families. If you’re battling crowds, blowing your Disney budget, or don’t know the best times to visit, we’re going to break down all the best Disney EPCOT Festival Tips to help you have a better vacation.
EPCOT Festival Calendar and Tips
Visiting Walt Disney World throughout the year, you’ll notice that EPCOT often hosts a festival. While these festivals always include food kitchens, musical performances, and extra activities or games, each has a different theme and happens at different times throughout the year.
There are four Annual Festivals at EPCOT, that take up most of the year at Walt Disney World, with only a few weeks between each one. Here’s the lineup of festivals that happen in winter, spring, summer, and fall. As always check the Disney Events Calendar for the dates of each festival.
Festival of the Arts | mid-January to mid-February
The Festival of the Arts at EPCOT is a newer festival, having first arrived on the scene in 2017, and honors Fine Arts, Culinary Arts, and the Performing Arts. Hosting a variety of artists across disciplines, you can see Disney-themed fine art, painting of all kinds, drawing, sculpture, metalwork, and more. Also including a wide array of culinary delights at the outdoor kitchens, you can find artistically crafted foods across the World Showcase. The Disney Broadway Concert Series is also part of this event honoring the performance arts, which are represented in other performances throughout the festival. Read the EPCOT Festival of the Arts Guide for all the Details.
Flower and Garden Festival | early March to early July
One of the longest festivals the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival runs several months, showcasing topiaries, gardens of all kinds, fresh foods at outdoor kitchens, and more. The Garden Rocks Concert Series is part of this event and features live music nightly throughout the festival. Other elements of this festival include the Garden Graze Challenge, Spike the Bee’s Scavenger Hunt, and the Butterfly House, among other things. Read the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival Guide for all the details.
Food and Wine Festival | mid-July to mid-November
The best Disney Festival for Adults, the Food and Wine Festival, serves up a variety of craft beers, wines, and cocktails, alongside sweet and savory dishes across the park. Honoring foods from all cultures, the Food and Wine Festival Menus match each country and a variety of themes at EPCOT. This festival also hosts the Eat to the Beat Concert series, the Remy Scavenger Hunt game, and instructional classes. Check out the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival Guide for all the details.
Festival of Holidays | late November to mid-December
Celebrating the most wonderful time of year the EPCOT Festival of Holidays starts just after Thanksgiving and brings cultural holiday cuisine from around the world to the forefront. Hosting culinary holiday kitchens across the World Showcase, you can find Christmas cookies and Thanksgiving dinner as well as babka and zeppole on the menus. Host to the Candlelight Processional, this nativity reading at the festival is held nightly throughout the season and features a celebrity speaker to help ring in the season. Also included in the festival activities are Holiday Storytellers in each World Showcase country weaving tales of holiday stories long past, offering up a variety of cultural traditions to be heard. Check out the EPCOT Festival of Holidays Guide for all the details.
Best Time to Visit an EPCOT Festival
No matter when you visit throughout the year, or which EPCOT festival you attend, the best times to visit EPCOT festivals are during the weekdays, before 4 p.m. While the best time to Walt Disney World may vary throughout the year, depending on the cost and crowds the Cheapest and Most Expensive Times to Visit Walt Disney World stay the same. As such, we always recommend avoiding evenings and weekends if you’re hoping for fewer crowds and shorter lines.
Festival Crowds at EPCOT
Crowds at Walt Disney World can make you crazy. So, if you’re hoping to make the most of your time, aim for visiting during weekdays, before 4 p.m. This helps you avoid the locals heading to the park after work, as well as vacationers visiting on weekend days.
Best Disney Resorts Near Epcot
If visiting Walt Disney World specifically for the festival consider staying at the Disney’s Boardwalk Inn or The Beach Club. Both have walking access to the Epcot International Gateway Entrance and offer a great way to make the most of the festival by avoiding transportation chaos and being able to take breaks throughout the day at leisure. Check out all our best tips on planning an EPCOT Festival Vacation for more resorts to consider.
Disney Pro Tip: We also like the Swan and Dolphin Hotels if you’re looking for something cheaper you can grab on hotels.com and still get close to the action.
Florida Weather in Winter
It’s important to Dress for the Florida Weather. You may not believe it but Florida in the winter gets chilly at night. So bring a lap blanket or a hoodie if you plan to stay for the evening shows. And plan for a cup of hot cocoa or two. Check out our entire Winter Packing Guide for Disney, to get an idea of all the things you may need during the chilly season.
Disney Pro Tip: Use the gift shops to get in out of the cold. This will give you time to browse the holiday merchandise and warm up before your next holiday storyteller or show.
EPCOT Transportation Options
EPCOT Park is located within walking distance of BoardWalk Resorts at Walt Disney World and has access to the Monorail and the Disney Skyliner too. As one of the easiest parks to get to if you’re looking for easy transportation, we highly recommend staying close to the park.
Disney Pro Tip: If you’ve booked anything involving a reservation plan to drive yourself or walk if you can. Waits at the bus stops can sometimes be an hour or longer, especially at opening and closing times at the park.
But, if you’re not staying close to EPCOT, then your best bet to get to and from the Festival is to stay at a Disney Skyliner Resort and take the Disney Skyliner to the EPCOT International Gateway. This stop at EPCOT brings you to the entrance near the UK area in the World Showcase. Using the gondolas will keep you out of bus lines, buses, and monorails. While driving to Walt Disney World is always a safe bet this time of year, so you have a little control over your transportation and wait times if staying on-site the Disney Boardwalk Resorts or Skyliner Resorts are a must.
Disney Pro Tip: We LOVE the Caribbean Beach Resort and Pop Century Resort on the Disney Skyliner line. By far two of the most budget-friendly Disney Resorts you can find. Caribbean Beach offers beaches, food, access to Disney’s Riviera Resort and a general sense of calm. While Pop Century Resort has all buildings centrally situation for easy access to the commisary, skyliner, and ARt of Animation Resort next door.
Epcot Festival Budget
When we talk about the importance of Planning a Disney Budget, that becomes double important if you’re visiting during a festival. At Festival of Holidays, there are 15+ food kitchens, and typically one treat at a food kitchen is gonna cost you on average 5 dollars. So, while you may not want a treat at each booth, chances are you will go through money like nobody’s business. So you should definitely have a Festival Food Budget. Your best bet is to decide ahead of time what snacks on the Festival Menus are on your must-try list. And base your budget on that. Maybe it’s 5 snacks per person in your group. Or less or more. Maybe you can skip lunch the day you go to the festival and just have a collection of foods from the kitchens instead.
Disney Pro Tip: We highly recommend loading a Festival gift card with your food budget for the day so you can keep track of your spending along the way. They come in a special Festival edition that has a wrist cord, for easy spending.
Make Time for Fun
As Disney Vacationers, we are often guilty of going with a Disney To-Do List. While planning ahead is great for your budget and sanity, it can also feel like you’re just checking things off. So, to help keep things fun we usually like to play the festival scavenger hunt game, grab a coffee and take a break to find Hidden Mickeys, stroll the gift shops, and watch a performance.
Go with a Plan
Make your Festival Must-Do List ahead of time. Much like the Disney Budget, you’ll need to pull together, knowing what is available during your vacation will make it that much easier to plan out if you want 1 or 2 days at the festival. If you’re eating at the outdoor kitchens throughout the day, or just picking up a few treats. Deciding if you’re going to see the performances, grab souvenirs, or play the scavenger hunt game are all things that you should know before you go!
Ride Attractions at Meal Times
EPCOT festivals can get busy. Very busy. And while you can bet to find lines at the outdoor kitchens you’ll find even longer lines at the rides. So plan to eat at off times and ride while others are eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Key times for low ride lines are 12-1 pm and 5-7 pm and any time there is an event happening like a parade or a performance. Making sure your time isn’t spent waiting in line is key.
Disney Pro Tip: You can use this same strategy to avoid lunch and dinner lines too. Eat at off times- like 2-4 pm or 7-9 pm to make sure you’re not waiting in lines.
Plan Two Days
Sure, an EPCOT ticket is pretty expensive, but if you can swing it, this event- like all EPCOT Festivals– really needs two days. Mainly because the Festival is mostly about food. And it’s difficult to just keep stuffing your face with everything you want to try in one day. Add in the fact that there are things you will want to do and at one point you’ll realize adding 15 more treats to try plus rides, plus performances won’t fit into your one-day plan. While you can smash it all into one day, we prefer to go slower and savor the season, so we can really take it all in.
Disney Pro Tip: If you’re planning lots of things, 2 days can still feel rushed. Grab our Disney Printable Planner to keep track of it all.
Top 10 EPCOT Festival Tips at Walt Disney World
Hopefully, these 10 tips can help you maximize your festival time this year. By far one of our favorite parts of visiting EPCOT are the festivals, so you needn’t be overwhelmed by the extra activities across the park. simply make a plan and enjoy!
Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.