By David Sibila
One of the most anticipated events every spring in Orlando is the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. This year, new food, new topiary displays and a new musical play garden will take center stage for this 90-day celebration of all things that bloom, March 2 - May 30, 2016.
Here are a few highlights of what to expect at the 23rd Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Food continues to be a growing trend at the festival. New at the Outdoor Kitchens will be flavors of the Caribbean at La Isla Fresca and locally grown produce at the new Cider House, including heirloom apples grown at Epcot's own The Land pavilion.
Additional new flavors will be featured as well, at the festival's 11 other Outdoor Kitchens:
Urban Farm Eats, Pineapple Promenade, Fleur de Lys, Florida Fresh, Taste of Marrakesh, Hanami, THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews, Primavera Kitchen, Lotus House, Bauernmarkt and Jardin de Fiestas.
The trio characters Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck, nephews to the explosive Donald Duck, will be making their premiere in topiary form inspired by a 1943 Donald Duck comic book called "The Victory Garden" at the Epcot front-entrance garden display with Donald and Daisy.
A new playground will sing with musically themed activities inspired with musicians-in-residence topiaries of Disney's Fab Five characters. The Harmony Gardens musical playground debuts with interactive drums, chimes and xylophones, an area where children can create their own musical sounds and a net climb.
Anna and Elsa topiaries will travel to the Norway pavilion festival landscape following their 2015 debut along World Showcase Plaza in a scene from the blockbuster Oscar-winning animated film, "Frozen."
Special weekend events include:
April 1-3 - Art in the Garden Weekend spotlights nature through the works of plein air artists;
April 8-10 - The new Family Fun Weekend presents outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy and a Festival Center focus on bugs with Disney's Animal Kingdom specialists;
April 22-24 - Earth Day Weekend celebrates our planet with special appearances and activities;
April 29-May 1-Florida Fresh Weekend features the state's edible bounty from Apalachicola to Zellwood.
The Garden Rocks concert series will present pop bands with music spanning four decades. This year's lineup kicks off March 4-6 with The Orchestra starring former members of ELO and will also include new-to-the festival acts like Bad Company.
Each weekend at the Festival Center, guests can dig in for a complimentary hands-on Gardening Seminar experience and create a take-home souvenir or grab a seat to hear tips from experts on a broad range of topics. The center also offers signature festival merchandise, food and beverages.
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Written by David Sibila, Senior Manager of Content and Social Media for Visit Orlando. He's a TV producer turned content and social media strategist, hands-on dad and a casualty of four rescued pets.