Even though I’ve only been to a few, if you include ones offered in Disneyland as well as Walt Disney World, I love the special interest festivals held in the parks throughout the year. Maybe it’s because I’m not only indecisive but I also much prefer to eat small bites, making the many food stands at the festivals the ideal way for me to enjoy a meal. I was fortunate enough to be in Epcot on the opening day of their annual Flower & Garden Festival, a fact that frankly took me by surprise. I recovered quickly though and proceeded to enjoy as many of the small bites as I could, wishing I had a few more days on-site to taste everything. Since this is such a popular festival, today I want to offer some insights and provide more information on this beautiful and delicious special event.
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival
Celebrating its 28th year, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is an annual garden festival held in the spring, usually March-May and for many guests is a yearly highlight that’s not to be missed. The 2020 Festival started on March 4 and ends June 1, 2020. During those few months, Epcot will be abuzz (pun intended) with not only vibrant flower and garden displays, but incredible food and a fun lineup of musicians.
Sure, the flowers are nice but I’m mostly there for the food. This year there are 17 Outdoor Kitchen Food Booths, each offering a tasty selection of savory and sweet dishes as well as drinks (alcoholic and non) to accompany them. Since it’s the Flower & Garden Festival, there’s a certain fresh food vibe that forms the common theme throughout all of the booths. There’s far too much to list here, but you can pick up a free Festival Passport as you enter Epcot that lists all of the food offerings as well as special events and even where to find those now famous topiaries. Some of my favorite not-to-miss bites and sips though include:
- Lotus House (China): Bon Bon Chicken Skewer and “Panda” Bubble Tea
- The Honey Bee-stro: Honey Tandoori Chicken Flatbread and a Honey-Peach Freeze in a Souvenir Spike the Bee Sipper Cup
- The Citrus Blossom: Orange Cream Shake in a Souvenir Orange Bird Sipper Cup
- Jardin de Fiestas (Mexico): Chilaquiles con Pollo
- Primavera Kitchen (Italy): Zeppole and Frozen Italian Margarita
- Bauernmarkt (Germany): Toasted Pretzel Bread with Black Forest Ham and Gruyère Cheese
- Magnolia Terrace (USA): House-made Boudin Two Ways
- Hanami (Japan): Menchi Katsu Slider (Panko-breaded Beef Patty with Tonkatsu Sauce
- Taste of Marrakesh (Morocco): Fried Cauliflower
- Northern Bloom (Canada): Griddled Maple Pound Cake
Not listed here are the many vegan options available this year as well as the Garden Graze Challenge. Sample the 5 items listed in the passport (all of which are vegan friendly) and receive a complimentary item from the Pineapple Promenade.
Naturally, since it’s a Flower & Garden Festival, the flora is the star of the show every Spring in Epcot. The Festival adds a lot to the overall Epcot experience, especially now since half of it is a construction zone as Disney reimagines the look and feel of the park. There’s of course no extra fee involved to visit and admire the topiaries and gardens, which together make visiting a lot more fun I think than during other times of the year. It takes a year and 400 Disney horticulturists to prepare for the Festival creating more than 100 Disney character topiaries and dozens of flower gardens and towers as well. The cumulative effect is nothing short of extraordinary and I found myself forgetting (momentarily) about the attractions as I marveled at the displays. Some of the not-to-miss displays include:
- Beauty and the Beast – Located at the France Pavilion
- Pandas – Located at the China Pavilion
- Winnie-the-Pooh & Friends – Located at the United Kingdom Pavilion
- Fantasia – Sorcerer Mickey, Brooms, Ostriches and Hippo – Located near Imagination at Future World West
- The Three Caballeros – Located at the Mexico Pavilion
- Troll – Located at the Norway Pavilion
- Bonsai Collection – Located at the Japan Pavilion
- English Tea Garden – Located at the United Kingdom Pavilion
But wait, there’s more. Given the length and complexity of the Festival, the offerings don’t stop with flowers and food. The Garden Rocks Concert Series is the most notable event to mention. Every night of the Festival there are big name artists performing in Epcot; everyone from The Pointer Sisters to Don McLean to Daughtry and more. There are also special dining packages available that include tickets to the performances.
If you’re really into horticulture, there are also a number of tours available. Gardens of the World is a 3-hour tour that provides a behind the scenes look at how the many displays at the Festival were created. English Tea Garden is a 20-minute tour where guests learn more about the growing and blending of tea. Behind the Seeds explores the future of agriculture and provides special access to the critters of The Land Pavilion.
The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is a beautiful event and even though it was my first time attending, I know it won’t be my last. Even better, since it runs for 3-months I can plan a quick trip back down and experience what I missed on my first trip. Whether it’s the food, the flowers or something else, there’s a lot to love about the event, not to mention everything else that makes Epcot a not-to-miss park in the first place.