The 21st annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival excitement is building with the 2016 festival taking place Sept. 14 through Nov. 14 with more than 30 global marketplaces filled with fantastic eats and drinks.
Last week, I attended a preview of this year’s festival and it is going to be a great year featuring new marketplace dishes, chefs celebrating their first time at the festival and plenty of new dining experiences.
Here’s a look at what to expect at this year’s 21st Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
New Marketplace Dishes
With more than 30 marketplaces, the official Food & Wine Festival menus are still being finalized. However, during the preview we learned that there half of the menus will include new dishes making their debuts at the festival.
A few of my favorite samplings of the day included the seared scallop (pictured above) found at the Wine & Dine Studio. Another group favorite was The Chew Collective’s grilled beef skewer with romaine, apricots and feta cheese. The Hops & Barley marketplace will be home to the new smoked beef brisket with pimento cheese served on griddled garlic toast.
Classic favorites returning to the festival include the New England lobster rolls and the Korean-style BBQ beef with steamed rice and cucumber kimchi.
New Chefs at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Throughout the festival, you’ll find book signings, meet and greets and for an additional cost – seminars and cooking demonstrations (yes, including food and drink) with some pretty big named chefs. A few of the newbies to this year’s festival include Geoffrey Zakarian, Duff Goldman, Elliott Farmer, Masaharu Morimoto and Graham Elliot.
Other returning festival favorites include Buddy Valastro, Jamie Deen, Cat Cora and Robert Irvine. I’m hoping to make it to see Bryan Voltaggio this year – he was a finalist on season six Top Chef!
New Dining Experiences
As part of this year’s festival, the food fun is expanding to the resorts! Fron hands-on chef’s table events to a look at the making of Disney’s hottest new bar – Trader Sam’s – there’s sure to be great food and drinks. A few of the new dining experiences coming to the resorts include –
** Behind the Scenes at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
** The Secret of Flavor at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
** Culinary Adventures with a Master Chef at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
** Brunch with a Twist at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Also new this year is the “Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!” event that takes place daily at 4 p.m. inside the Festival Center at Epcot. This hands-on workshop allows guests to learn a new skill each day.
From cake decorating to mixing cocktails and more, this activity is taught by the professionals and is $49 per person.
Eat to the Beat Concert Series
The full 2016 Eat to the Beat Concert Series lineup is set to be announced on July 11, 2016. Hanson, Boyz II Men, STARSHIP: featuring Mickey Thomas are all set to return again this year. New performers for 2016 include Wang Chung, The BoDeans, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Living Colour and Delta Rae.
As similar to past years, the shows will take place at World Showcase America Gardens Theatre at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Epcot admission is required for the show. Eat to the Beat dining packages will also be available this year.
Important Festival Dates to Remember
The 21st Epcot International Food & Wine Festival takes place September 14 through November 14 for a record 62 days of great eats. Stay tuned to the hashtag #EpcotFoodFestival for the latest information.
The official website (www.EpcotFoodFestival.com) goes live on July 11th with all of the latest news and information. There you’ll also find detailed information on all of the demos, classes and unique experiences offered as part of this year’s festival.
Get ready to reserve your festival experiences and dining events, when bookings open on Thursday, July 21. For reservations, call 407-WDW-FEST (407-939-3378).
What are you excited to experience at this year’s festival?
** I was invited to this preview event as a guest of Walt Disney World Parks and Resort. Thoughts and opinions here are my own. **