Festivals. Concerts. Food. Events are some of the biggest reasons to visit the Walt Disney World Resort. While Disney World's special events traditionally have been held during off-peak times in spring and fall, many of them have become very popular. They are a reason to visit in and of themselves!
We created our Guide to Disney World events in 2017 to help you plan when to visit. For those of you who have already picked your dates, this post also serves as a guide of what will be happening while you're there. You'll find all of these special events as well as some of the smaller events on our Crowd Calendar. You can also see crowd levels and park recommendations on the days events are taking place.
We update this post throughout the year as new event details are released and dates are added. Be sure to bookmark this page if you've got a trip coming up!
Guide to Disney World Events in 2017
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend—Jan. 4 - 8
Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Dopey Challenge, Kids Races, Walt Disney World 5K & 10K, Walt Disney World Half Marathon and the headlining race, the Walt Disney World Marathon. Disney's Health & Fitness Expo also takes places throughout the weekend. The courses of the longer races take runners through all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks.
Crowd levels are strongly affected by the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. The event brought in a reported 70,000 runners (not counting spectators) in 2015. Traffic around the theme park area is also affected by the Walt Disney World Marathon. If you visit during this special event, expect travel time between the Disney parks to take longer. We have a separate post on What to Expect at the Disney World Marathon if you want to start planning.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts—Jan. 13-Feb. 20
The festival debuts this year at Epcot and will celebrate visual, performing and culinary arts. Each weekend, there will be gallery exhibits, living statues, artist appearances and much more going on throughout the festival. The Disney on Broadway Concert Series will be visiting the America Gardens Theatre with iconic Disney songs.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts is included with admission to the park, but there are separately ticketed events within the festival.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend—Feb. 24 - 26
Inspired by the Disney Princesses, this event is designed with women in mind. Weekend events include the Disney Royal Family 5K, Disney Enchanted 10K, Disney's Fit for a Princess Expo, and the headlining event, Disney's Princess Half Marathon. The half marathon takes runners through Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and traffic around the parks is affected by this race.
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival—March 1 - May 29
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is an annual event at Epcot each spring. This event features more than 100 topiaries spread throughout the park. In 2017, guests will see new topiaries of Belle from "Beauty and the Beast," a "Cars"-themed area in celebration of the upcoming "Cars 3" and a 6-foot-tall Figment from Epcot's Imagination Pavilion. There are an abundance of food offerings—with tapas-sized dishes and desserts plus drinks!—at the outdoor kitchens scattered around World Showcase. Two new Outdoor Kitchens will be added to the festival's already flavorful outdoor food and beverage marketplaces. Popular kitchens are the Urban Farm Eats, the locally grown Florida Fresh, Japan's Hanami, the Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews, and Bauernmarkt: Farmer's Market featuring organic samplings with a German and Bavarian flare. Check out what delighted diners last year in this recap.
Guests can also delight in the hundreds of butterfly species residing at the festival's screened butterfly house. The festival's concerts take place at America Gardens Theater usually every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the event. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is included with regular admission to Epcot.
Check out the sights and sounds of Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival below!
Garden Rocks Concert Series 2017 Full Lineup
- Mar 3-4: John Secada
- Mar 5-6: Dennis DeYoung
- Mar 10-13 Pointer Sisters
- Mar 17-18 Plain White T's
- Mar 24-27 Night Ranger
- Mar 31-April 3: Blood, Sweat and Tears featuring Bo Bice
- Apr 14-17: Gin Blossoms
- Apr 21-24: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO
- Apr 28-29: Expose
- Apr 30-May 1: Berlin featuring Terri Nunn
- May 5-8: Starship starring Mickey Thomas
- May 12-15: The Guess Who
- May 19-22: Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone
- May 26-27: The Spinners
Star Wars: Galactic Nights—April 14th
Grab your lightsaber, polish your Mandalorian armor and wash your Jedi robes, because you won't want to miss this! Star Wars: Galactic Nights, a one-night-only special ticket event will take place at Disney's Hollywood Studios from 7:00 p.m. until midnight. Mix with your fellow Star Wars fans and enjoy shows, celebrity appearances, photo ops, Star Tours - The Adventures Continue, a viewing of Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular and much more. These separate admission tickets can be purchased here.
Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - The Dark Side—April 20 - 23
You don't know the power of the dark side. Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend is inspired by Darth Vader, Stormtroopers and Sith Lord. Weekend events include the Star Wars 10K, Star Wars 5K, Star Wars Dark Side Challenge and the runDisney Kids Races, as well as the half marathon. Registration is now open, so start perfecting your powers of the force along with your running training.
Sounds Like Summer Concert Series (Epcot)
The Sounds Like Summer Concert Series takes place every summer at Epcot. Every night at the America Gardens Theatre, guests can sit back and listen to some of the world's greatest tribute bands. "Don't Look Back" A Tribute to Boston, "Hotel California" A Salute to The Eagles and "Simply Tina" A Tribute to Tina Turner were some of the bands that played last year.
There are typically three performances each night the event takes place. Sounds Like Summer Concert Series is included with regular admission to Epcot.
Sounds Like Summer Concert Series 2017 Full Lineup has not yet been announced.
August - September
Night of Joy— Sept. 8 - 9
This contemporary Christian music festival takes place each September. The event was expanded in 2016. Concerts are held at indoor and outdoor venues at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Last year admission to Saturday's concerts included a day at one of the four theme parks.
Casting Crowns, Stars Go Dim and Matthew West were some of the musical talents present for 2016's event. Night of Joy is a separately ticketed event.
Night of Joy 2017 Full Lineup has not yet been announced.
September - October
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Magic Kingdom)
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place at Magic Kingdom on select nights each fall. The party's biggest highlights are watching Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, Happy HalloWishes Fireworks and Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular, along with trick-or-treating in the park and meeting the Disney characters dressed in Halloween costumes. The party is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom and requires a separate ticket. We recommended purchasing tickets in advance since these parties do sell out. If you're thinking about going, check out our Guide to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
September - November
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival—Aug. 31 - Nov. 13
The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival takes place every fall at Epcot. The festival features more than 25 international marketplace kiosks, which offer tapas-sized portions of regional specialties as well as recommended wine and beer pairings. Guests can also spend time sharpening their culinary and beverage skills in seminars and partake in special dining experiences with celebrity chefs for an additional charge. This a major event, and proper planning can help you make the most of it.
Included with admission to the park is the Eat to the Beat! Concert Series, which features acclaimed artists. Hanson, Boyz II Men and Toad the Wet Sprocket were some of the artists featured in 2016. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is included with regular theme park admission.
Get a taste of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival with our Sights & Sounds video.
Eat to the Beat 2017 Full Lineup has not yet been announced.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend— Nov 2 - 5
The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend combines the magic of a runDisney race with the festivities of the Food & Wine Festival. Races include the Disney Fall Feast 5K, Kids Races and the Half Marathon. The half marathon takes place at nighttime! Registration is not yet available, but you may sign up for a reminder.
November - December
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (Magic Kingdom)
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a special event held on select nights each winter at Magic Kingdom. The party runs from 7 p.m. until midnight. The big highlights from this event are Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes fireworks, Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration Castle Stage Show and a magical snowfall over Main Street, U.S.A.
There are also plenty of opportunities to meet your favorite Disney characters, some of whom are decked out in their holiday finest. Cookies and hot cocoa are included with admission to this separately ticketed event. It is recommended you purchase tickets in advance; it is common for nights to sell out. Check out our Guide to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
While Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate admission event, there are still many festive holiday happenings around the Disney World resort. Each one brings merriment with the right touch of Disney. Let our Complete Guide to Disney World Holiday Events be your holiday planner.
Holidays Around The World - Candlelight Processional (Epcot)
Holidays Around The World - Candlelight Processional takes place each winter in Epcot's World Showcase. Storytellers from many of the countries, such as Father Christmas at the United Kingdom pavilion, recounted holiday customs from their respective countries. Guests could also have their picture made with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the American Adventure Pavilion.
The Candlelight Processional is performed three times nightly and retells the story of Christmas with a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. Holidays Around The World - Candlelight Processional is included with regular admission to Epcot. We have tips on all of these festivities here.
Holidays at Disney Springs
Holidays at Disney Springs is a special event that replaced Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney (the previous name for the entertainment area). It offers live entertainment, festive decor, fun photo ops and the opportunity to meet Santa at a new location across from Ghiradelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. There are holiday carolers, Toy Soldier stilt walkers and street performers and a holiday dance party with a deejay.
Last year's holiday decorations included the Disney Springs' Christmas Trail, a trail of trees decorated and themed as Disney characters. Disney Springs Marketplace was transformed into a winter wonderland with snow fall, toy soldiers and more. Holidays at Disney Springs is free to attend.
The Frog Family is proud to provide you with this Guide to Disney World events in 2017. By now you've realized that the parties, festivals and events are some of the best reasons to visit! If you are looking for more tips, check out the When to Visit Orlando page on our Orlando Planning Timeline!