By A.D. Thompson
From tried-and-true favorites to artful and exciting new offerings, fans of the festival circuit are going to have a blast park-hopping this spring. In fact, they won't even have to wait until the season's official start to enjoy!
This colorful, musical newcomer is already underway and running for six extended weekends (Friday - Monday) through February 20, enticing both palette and palate! In its inaugural year, "Artful Epcot" showcases the arts on all fronts: visual, musical, theatrical and - as Epcot's gourmand fans are first and foremost - culinary! Food Studios delight with edible art, including dishes and cocktails inspired by artistic techniques and even famed artists. Phenomenal visual artists and stage productions featuring some of Broadway's finest work wonders for your other senses.
Bead-tossing parades and world-class musical acts grace the stage at Universal Studios. This colorful, Cajun-inspired event will run 49 consecutive nights this year - a big extension on last year's 14-day, weekends-only event -- and offer park-goers even more Fat Tuesday-fun for their budget. From Toby Keith to Earth, Wind & Fire, Fifth Harmony to Olivia Newton-John, the concert lineup is as colorful as the celebrations and of course, each is included with park admission.
2017 is a big year for inaugurals - and SeaWorld's newest foodie fest is one of them. Pairing wine and craft beer with international fare from Polynesia to Latin America, Europe to the Middle East and beyond, park guests can eat and drink their way around the park and even take in live performances. The comedy styling of Bill Engvall and the Texas blues of ZZ Top will be on tap, along with the Village People, the Commodores, Styx and many more; concerts are included with park admission.
This gorgeous spring festival keeps growing. Last year it expanded to 60 days and this year two new outdoor kitchens and some fresh faces will be added to the lineup. The Garden Rocks concert series will be getting an extension, as well, to four days a week. Fascinating events and tours, gardening seminars and DIY workshops, and even specially ticketed dinners are available for a deeper experience. As always, there will be plenty of free gardening advice available from myriad experts positioned around the park.
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Amy Drew Thompson has spent more than 20 years as a journalist and roughly two decades as a Floridian. A roller coaster enthusiast, she readily admits there is fun to be had amid the theme-park madness, but has found magic, as well, in the outer-lying reaches of Mickey's long shadow. She is a full-time freelancer, an editorial jack-of-all-trades and the Orlando Local Expert for USA Today's 10Best.com