The Food and Wine Festival is returning to Epcot at the end of this month. It's very exciting, and it's going to be bigger this year than ever. The International Food and Wine Festival is a free event that is part of general admission to Epcot. Guests can purchase small plates and paired beverages at pop up locations spread all over the park. This is a big part of Food and Wine, but that's not all. There are lots of events taking place at the Festival welcome center, including seminars and workshops. Some of which are free, or very inexpensive. Celebrities, Chefs and TV personalities will be present for scheduled events. There are even parties for the festival for an added ticket price. There is so much to cover with this year's Food and Wine Festival. So, let's start with the marketplaces planted around the park.
There are going to be over 30 global marketplaces (food kiosks) for this year's festival. There will be returning favorites like the Cheddar Cheese Soup and the Roasted Duck Bao Bun. Also, there will be new additions like Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak and New Brunswick Sliders.
The marketplaces are planted along the world showcase lagoon and don't necessarily correspond to the permanent pavilions, although China's booth is outside China, and Canada is near the Canada Pavilion. Countries that don't have a permanent pavilion, such as Greece, Hawaii, and New Zealand seem pretty randomly distributed. For the most part, the placement has some geographic continuity, but consult your map to be sure.
Other Festival Locations
Future World has its share of marketplaces too. Returning favorites include Flavors from Fire, the Cheese Studio, Coastal Eats, the Chocolate Studio, and the Almond Orchard. Future World Festival stops also include the Light Lab and Craft Drafts at the Odyssey Center. Marketplaces in Future World are found along the south side of Club Cool and the walkway from Imagination Pavilion toward Canada.
Craft Drafts Can Be Found on the East side of the midway point of the park between the Mexico Pavilion and Test Track. Consult your map to find the locations of your favorite booths so your party can strategize getting several items at once and sit/stand in a central spot between booth clusters. This works best if you bring a tray with you and have someone stake out a spot to enjoy the food.
Brand new Festival additions for kids include a special playground, a dance party, a junior chef workshop every Sunday, and a Ratatouille inspired scavenger hunt.
Table service restaurants will also have their way of celebrating the festival with a new spin on the menu that features specific pairings. This is a great way to enjoy a full meal in the spirit of the festival without paying an extra ticket price for one of the pairing events.
The Festival Welcome Center
A lot of people don't even realize the Festival Center is there, but if nothing else it's somewhere you can go to cool off on a hot day. The center is in the old Wonders of Life building tucked away on the east side of Future World. This is where the seminars, workshops and celebrity appearances mostly take place. You can also purchase Food and Wine merchandise and take a brief tour of how Ghirardelli chocolate is made. This year there will be a mimosa bar. Consult the schedule for excellent tasting opportunities and other experiences at the Festival Welcome Center. Some of them are free or cost very little considering what you get out of it.
Among all of the activity at the Festival Center this year, there will be seven different cheese seminars on cheeses and wines. The seminars will focus on different countries, or regions such as the Mediterranean, France, Italy, and America. Plus, seminars will focus on Old World cheeses and wines, seasonal cheeses and wines and Great Britain's cheeses and ales.
There are also mixology seminars and cooking workshops, but you must reserve any of these in advance like you would a dining reservation. Book online, or call (407)939-3378.
Eat to the Beat Concert Series
Part of the fun of the International Food and Wine Festival is the Eat to the Beat Concert Series. Artists like 98 Degrees, Smashmouth, and Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts are just a few of many performances that will be hitting the stage of the American Gardens Theater in front of the American Pavilion. Nightly performances from August 30 to November 12 are scheduled to take place at 5:30, 6:45, and 8:00.
Party for the Senses
Party for the Senses is a culinary event at the World Showplace Events Pavilion. The party takes place on select Saturdays from 7:00 pm-9:30 pm and includes reserved seating for the 5:30 Eat to the Beat performance at the American Gardens Theater. Tickets start at $229 on top of the general Epcot Admission which is required to attend. The ticket price excludes tax but includes gratuity.
The party includes food and entertainment in a feast that celebrates the sensory arts with TV personalities, entertainers, and acclaimed chefs. This year there are five nights for the party:
- September 22
- October 6, 13, 20
- November 10
Food and Wine Pairings
You can enjoy the Festival Experience even in some of the year-round table service restaurants in Epcot. Special pairing events on select days will treat guests to elevated dining experiences through specific food and drink in Mexico, Italy, France, Japan, and Morocco. See the event calendar for specific dates.
- Mexican Tequila Lunch, 12:00-1:30 at Hacienda De San Angel $85
- Italian Food, Wine VS Beer Pairing, 1:30-4:15 at Via Napoli Restaurant and Pizzeria $88
- Italian Regional Food and Wine Pairing Luncheon, 12:00-2:30 at Tutto Gusto $99
- Parisian Breakfast, 9:15-10:30 at Chefs De France $40
- French Family Meal Traditions, 12:00-3:30 at Monsieur Paul $95
- The Parisian Afternoon, Sandwiches, Macarons, and Bubbles, 1:30-3:30 at Monsieur Paul $55
- The “Hibachi” Experience: Iron Chef, 4:00-6:00 at Teppan Edo $180
- Tokyo Pairing, 4:00-6:00 at Tokyo Dining $160
The pricing for these does not include tax, but gratuity is included. They are experiences guided by master chefs and make a terrific added component to the entire food and wine experience. These events do sell out fast, so be sure to book your reservations well in advance, so you don't miss your chance to attend.