Festivals. Concerts. Food. (That’s our personal fave!) It seems like there’s always one occasion or another to visit. Events are some of the biggest reasons to visit Walt Disney World Resort! While some of Disney World’s special events fall during what was once considered more “off-peak” times in spring and fall, others hoppen during very busy times. Many of the Disney World events have become so popular that they bring more people to the parks! Here is the full schedule of Disney World events in 2021 to help you plan your visit.
For those of you who have already picked your dates, this post also serves as a guide to what will be hoppening while you’re there. You’ll find all of the Walt Disney World events in 2021 and beyond on our Crowd Calendar. You can also see crowd levels and park recommendations on the days that events are taking place. Of course, we know it can be difficult to know what to expect right now due to COVID-19; we have a whole post discussing what the crowd levels at Disney World may be like for 2021 and 2022.
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 to stay up-to-date on all of the exciting events to come!
Full Schedule of Events at Disney World in 2021
JANUARY AND FEBRUARY
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend — Now a Virtual Event: Jan. 6 to 10, 2021
The Walt Disney World Marathon 2021 Weekend will feature Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, Dopey Challenge, runDisney Kids Races, Walt Disney World 5K & 10K, Walt Disney World Half Marathon and the headlining race, the Walt Disney World Marathon. Normally, the courses of the longer races take runners through all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. In 2021, this event has been moved to a virtual race for the health and safety of participants.
If you’re planning a trip that overlaps with a race outside of 2021, you should know that Disney races are some of the Disney World events that will bring in heavy crowds. Crowd levels are usually affected by the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend since the event brings in thousands and thousands of runners and spectators each year. Traffic around the resort is also affected by the Walt Disney World Marathon. When visiting 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. 8 to Feb. 22, 2021
Grab a paintbrush, and let your imagination flow! This EPCOT festival celebrates visual, performing and culinary arts. There are usually gallery exhibits, living statues, artist appearances and much more that take place during the festival. This year, a modified version will be debuting Jan. 8, 2021. Normally, the Disney on Broadway Concert Series offers nightly performances at the America Gardens Theatre, but it has not been announced if it will return.
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is typically included with admission to the park, but there are separately ticketed events within the festival itself if you are looking for additional experiences such as culinary classes or art workshops. Here is our full guide to EPCOT International Festival of the Arts if you’re planning a trip during this time next year.
Disney After Hours
On select nights, guests can stay after park closing in this separately ticketed event to experience Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom after dark. Your event ticket includes admission to the park beginning at 7 p.m., though the events themselves begin a few hours later once the park officially closes. Ice cream, popcorn and select beverages are also included in the cost of admission.
Currently, there are no Disney After Hours events scheduled, but Disney often releases new dates in batches throughout the year. Check back in later to see if dates have been added!
Disney Villains After Hours (Magic Kingdom)
Disney Villains took over Magic Kingdom during this uniquely themed After Hours event last summer, and it made its wicked return in 2020. Guests had exclusive access to Magic Kingdom for three hours after normal park operations. Your favorite fiends plotted to take over the universe during the stage show, Villains Unite the Night, in front of Cinderella Castle, and Maleficent the Dragon made special appearances throughout the evening. There is no confirmation yet that Disney Villains After Hours will be returning in 2021.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend — Now a Virtual Event: Feb. 18 to 21, 2021
Inspired by the Disney Princesses, this event is designed with women in mind. Weekend events will include the Disney Princess 5K, Disney Princess Enchanted 10K, Disney Fairy Tale Challenge and the headlining event, the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Normally, the half marathon takes runners through Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, but the race has been converted to a virtual event for 2021. Traffic around the parks is typically affected by this race every year.
MARCH – JULY
EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival — March 3 to July 5, 2021
As the second event in the lineup of the EPCOT festivals, EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival blossoms each spring. This festival features more than 100 topiaries spread throughout the park. There are an abundance of food offerings at the outdoor kitchens scattered around World Showcase and Future World to enjoy while admiring the character topiaries. Popular kitchens include the locally-grown Florida Fresh, Citrus Blossom and Honey Bee-stro.
Guests can also delight in the hundreds of butterfly species residing at the festival’s screened butterfly house. The festival concerts take place at America Gardens Theatre every night during the event. EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival is included with regular admission to EPCOT. This is one of the most colorful and popular Disney World events!
Check out the sights and sounds of EPCOT’s 2020 Flower & Garden Festival below!
Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon Weekend — Now a Virtual Event: April 15 to 18, 2021
Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon 2021 Weekend features iconic rivalries from “Star Wars.” Weekend events include the Star Wars 5K, Star Wars 10K, Star Wars Rival Run Challenge and the runDisney Kids Races, as well as the headlining half marathon. Registration opened July 14, 2020, and the majority of the races have sold out already. Start perfecting using the Force (maybe it can help you punch it to beat your best race time?). This event has been modified into a virtual event for 2021, and the theming will be imagined for 2022.
AUGUST – DECEMBER
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Magic Kingdom) — TBD
One of the most popular Disney World events is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It takes place at Magic Kingdom on select nights each fall. The party’s biggest highlights are watching Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular fireworks show and Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. The party features trick-or-treating in the park and Disney characters dressed in Halloween costumes. The party is not included with regular admission to Magic Kingdom and requires a separate ticket. We recommend purchasing tickets in advance since these parties do sell out … but we’re hoppy to say that you can purchase your tickets from your favorite frogs! If you’re thinking about going, check out our guide to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for all of the spooky-fun details.
While the party did not take place in 2020, there was still plenty of Halloween fun hoppening at Magic Kingdom, including special character cavalcades, spooky-good treats and more!
EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival — TBD
The EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival debuted earlier than ever on July 15, 2020, and ran through Nov. 22! If you’re looking for Disney World events with plenty of food and drink, this is one of them! 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. Most years, guests can spend time sharpening their culinary and beverage skills in seminars too. There are also usually opportunities to partake in special dining experiences with celebrity chefs for an additional charge. This a major event, and we recommend using our EPCOT Food & Wine Festival guide to help you make the most of it!
The Eat to the Beat! Concert Series was not held in 2020 due to being unable to accommodate physical distancing, but other musical acts and entertainment, such as Mariachi Cobre and JAMMitors, were available to enjoy. EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is included with regular theme park admission.
Get a taste of the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival with our sights and sounds video below.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend — TBD
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. Half-marathoners and Disney Two-Course Challenge participants can celebrate at an exclusive post-race party at the Food and Wine Festival. You can find more event and registration details on the runDisney site. In 2020, this event took place virtually from Nov. 5 to 8, 2020.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (Magic Kingdom) — TBD
One of our favorite Disney World events, 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, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration castle stage show, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime fireworks and 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 because it is common for nights to sell out. Get your party ticket, and check out our guide to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party so that you can get in on all of the holly jolly fun too!
While Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate event, there are still many festive holiday Disney World events. Each one brings merriment with the right touch of Disney. Let our complete guide to Disney World holiday events be your holiday planner! (Consider it our gift to you.)
While the party was canceled in 2020, Magic Kingdom still decked its halls! Cinderella Castle was wrapped in special rotating overlays, and characters wore their holiday best to give season’s greetings to guests in special seasonal cavalcades.
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays (EPCOT) — TBD
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays takes place each winter; in 2020, the festival ran from Nov. 27 to Dec. 30. Storytellers from many of the countries, such as La Bafena at the Italy pavilion, recount holiday customs from their respective countries. Santa Claus even made special pop-up appearances in 2020. There’s also seasonal food from each country available for purchase. Buon appetito!
The Candlelight Processional is typically performed three times nightly. The show tells the story of Christmas with a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. Much like other EPCOT festivals, EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is included with regular admission to EPCOT. We have tips on all of these festivities (and yes, the food too) in our full guide!
Holiday Celebrations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — TBD
In 2020, Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park put on a modified celebration for the holidays from Nov. 6 to Dec. 30. Guests could wave at favorite characters in their holiday best, as well as Santa, in Festive Flotillas along Discovery River. There were also special seasonal decorations and food to enjoy around the park! We expect that a similar event will return in 2021.
Holiday Celebrations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios — TBD
Share a meal with Santa Goofy, Minnie Mouse and friends at Hollywood & Vine for a Christmas feast. Sunset Season’s Greetings typically lights up Tinseltown as snow falls and dazzling projections light up the Hollywood Tower Hotel to tell special holiday tales from your favorite characters. This show takes place intermittently throughout the night. It was modified in 2020 — while projections still appeared, the storytelling and snowfall were on hold. Plus guests could catch Santa driving by in a special seasonal motorcade! In 2020, this took place from Nov. 6 to Dec. 30, and we expect similar festivities will return in 2021.
Holiday Celebrations at Disney Springs — TBD
Holidays at Disney Springs is a special event that replaced Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney (the previous name for the entertainment area). Holiday decorations include the Disney Springs’ Christmas Trail, a trail of trees decorated and themed as Disney characters. In 2020, the trees were spread out throughout Disney Springs instead of one central location. In the evening, guests visiting areas within Town Center, West Side and The Landing encountered a magical snowfall. Jock Lindsay’s Holiday Bar returned once again with holiday decor and a limited-time menu. Holidays at Disney Springs is a free Disney World event, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2021!
We hope you found this list of Disney World events hopful as you plan your visit. 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!