History Of Epcot’s Festival Of The Arts

The Epcot Festival of the Arts is in full swing! Have you had the opportunity to visit the park to stop by the impressive food booths, view the incredible chalk art, or listen to the Disney Broadway singers at the American Gardens Theatre?  If not, there is still plenty of time! The festival offerings are available daily until February 21, 2022 and park reservations for Epcot are available for all days leading up to the closing date!

If you’re wondering how and when the festival got its start, we have all of the information for you! If you didn’t already know, this is only the 5th year of the popular and, in many ways, interactive festival.

epcots festival of the arts
Epcot announces its Festival of the Arts with a bright rainbow of colors!

The Beginning

Epcot’s Festival of the Arts first began in 2017. In its inaugural year, it was only held Fridays through Mondays running January 13 through February 20. Once considered a less popular time to travel to the parks after the holiday happenings, Festival of the Arts was the third annual festival to be added to Epcot’s calendar as a way to entice visitors to come to Walt Disney World in the colder months of January and February. The Flower and Garden Festival and International Food and Wine Festival were already established on the yearly schedule.

Snacks at Festival of The Arts, Epcot
Are the food kitchens your favorite part of Epcot’s Festival of the Arts?

When the festival opened in 2017, it celebrated visual, performing, and culinary arts in many of the same ways as we currently do with art galleries, Disney on Broadway performances, animation classes, and the highly sought-after culinary kiosks. The festival also offered Disney on Broadway Dining packages its first year which are also still offered today. In the inaugural year, Epcot debuted 8 food booths for the festival which over the years has expanded to 15 in 2022. Other elements of the festival that debuted in the first year that still exist today are Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt, the interactive mural wall, and photo opportunities that allow guests to immerse themselves in works of art.

Guests of the festival can paint-by-number and help to create a fun mural!

Because of the festival’s roaring success, the 2nd year of the festival ran 7 days a week in 2018 from January 12 to February 19 while the Disney on Broadway performances still ran only Friday through Monday. The Disney on Broadway Performances did not run daily during the festival until 2019. Also in 2019, chalk art drawings around the World Showcase began to appear at the festival.  In 2020, we saw the addition of the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine where guests are rewarded with a sweet treat after purchasing a rainbow of specified dishes from the festival’s food kitchens.

Changes to the Festival Because of Covid-19

The Epcot Festival of the Arts in 2020 was able to run as normal, as it concluded before the March 2020 shutdown of all Disney parks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  When the festival returned for its 4th year in early 2021, some things looked a little different. Thankfully, most offerings were able to run as normal with only small changes.  Guests and artists were required to wear masks and remain socially distant during meet-and-greets and while making creations like chalk art. Also, the Animation Academy was moved to an open-air location at the American Gardens Theater which is where it is held in 2022 as well. The fun immersive photo opportunities were still in place, however, PhotoPass photographers were not at each station as usual, and guests were sometimes left to take photos using their own device. Artwork created during the festival that is often times displayed near character meet and greets showed up in the UK pavilion since many meet and greets had not yet returned. Finally, the biggest thing lacking from the festival in 2021 was the Disney On Broadway performances. Much to the delight of fans of the festival, those have been reinstated for 2022!

Disney on Broadway
Disney on Broadway has returned for 2022! Catch performances each evening at the American Gardens Theatre. Photo by Theme Park Tourist (CC BY 2.0)

2022 Festival of the Arts

There is so much to do, see, and taste at Epcot’s Festival of the Arts that many guests report attending the festival each year as a “must”. Check out our list of things that you should not miss as well as the food kitchens that are in place this year. They are already getting rave reviews!

Do you usually plan a trip to Epcot during Festival of the Arts? Which part of the festival do you look forward to the most? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Photo courtesy of Disney

Written by

Shelley Wehler

Contributing Writer

Shelley is a stay-at-home mother of two girls living outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Her love of all things Disney has grown even more as she sees the magic come alive through the lens of her young daughters. She spends her free time keeping up with the latest in Disney news and daydreaming of her next trip to the parks!

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