Enjoy interactive art at the Epcot Festival of the Arts

It's time to grab your paintbrushes because the Epcot International Festival of the Arts has returned for its second year. This growing festival – from January 12 to February 19 – is all about bringing together the best in the culinary, performing and visual arts. Unlike last year, you can now experience the festival offerings every day of the week. Here are 5 top ways to celebrate the Festival of the Arts, including some of the best dishes to feast on in 2018.

Artful Cuisine
This year brings more than a dozen food studios located throughout World Showcase, offering a wide selection of culinary delights. One of the new dishes this year is Gallery Bites at The Painter’s Palate. This trio of hors d’oeuvres includes a grilled shrimp with cucumber cream cheese on a crostini, a deviled egg with candied bacon and a crispy risotto ball. It's a great way to sample several delicacies on one plate. Returning again is last year's favorite Almond Frangipane Cake layered with raspberry jam and chocolate from Pop Eats. This delicious slice of cake is a work of art worth hanging on the wall, but it's probably best if you eat it instead. Looking for something heartier? Head over to Cuisine Classique for the incredible red wine-braised short rib served over parsnip puree.

Disney on Broadway
The Disney on Broadway series is a fantastic way to check out some of the best Broadway singers performing songs from award-winning Disney musicals, and it's included in your regular admission to Epcot. This year brings amazing talents like Kara Lindsay and Kevin Massey performing hits from Aladdin, Newsies and Frozen. You can catch Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White singing songs from The Lion King, Aida and The Little Mermaid. And Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland will perform songs from Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan and Mary Poppins. There are three show times every Friday through Monday during the event, but space is limited so be sure to grab your seats early. 

Global Music
Several new and returning acts will take the stage around World Showcase. Matboukha Groove spices things up at the Morocco stage with their entertaining fusion of World Music styles. New this year is Groovin’ Alps, a high-energy percussion band playing Bavarian folk tunes with items found on a dairy farm. And Bodh’aktan returns to the Canada stage with their fantastic rock-style polka music. Plus, the Community Arts Showcase features the best in up-and-coming talent with youth orchestras, chorus groups and marching bands from the Central Florida area. Show times may vary so check the festival guide when you arrive at the park for more details.

Visual Arts
It wouldn't be the Festival of the Arts without the visual arts. The main gallery is located at the Odyssey Festival Showplace and features works from several iconic Disney artists. More galleries are also located within the World Showcase pavilions featuring artworks from their native country. Some highlights to look for include an exhibit at the Mexico pavilion showcasing the traditions of Día de los Muertos and a gallery in the American Adventure that tells the story of 400 years of African-American achievement. Of course you can take home an original piece of art or reproduction from many pop-up galleries around the park or the Art of Disney store in Future World West.

Interactive Fun
Some of the best parts of this young festival are the experiences where you get to join in. Head over to the World Showcase Plaza and grab a paintbrush so you can add to the giant mural being created by guests. Strike a pose and become part of famous paintings in the artful photo ops located around the park. Sign up for seminars and workshops to learn everything from drawing animated characters and floral arranging to calligraphy and abstract painting. And get ready to find that lovable little dragon Figment in the Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt. Search for Figment hiding inside famous works of art at each of the World Showcase pavilions to earn a prize! Plus, catch amazing living statues and much more at the event.

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts runs from January 12 to February 19, 2018. Get your tickets to Walt Disney World on Best of Orlando for the best price guaranteed.

(Photo: Walt Disney World)