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Most families don’t need a reason to make a special trip to the Walt Disney World Resort; with the world-class attractions, shows and the characters that make Disney famous, there are an infinite number of reasons to make Central Florida your next vacation destination. However, in addition to all the “must-sees” that Disney has to offer, did you know that they also host several special annual events throughout the year? While some of those are centered around holidays and are special-ticket entries, like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom Park, there are others that are included with regular theme park admission. One of those, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, is just right around the corner, and this year, it’s bigger and better than ever.

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is more than just a festival – it’s a celebration of spring, with floral displays and topiaries adorning the park, food from around the world, live music from top bands, and seminars with some of the top names in the home and garden industry. This year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival takes place March 5-May 18, and with 30 million blooms, 700 gardens and over 70 Disney character topiaries that took 400 Walt Disney World horticulturists over a year to prepare, this is one event that is worth a special trip to Epcot.

Highlights from the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival include over 70 Disney character topiaries, more than 10 “Outdoor Kitchens,” gardens that illuminate at night, HGTV and DIY presentations and the return of the popular Flower Power concert series. Every Friday through Sunday at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m., top acts from the 60s and 70s take center stage to spread some peace, love and rock-n-roll. In additions to favorites such as The Guess Who, Paul Revere and The Village People, there are two new acts to this year’s lineup – Gary Lewis and The Playboys (March 14-16) and the Alan Parsons Live Project (May 16-18).    

The musical acts aren’t the only big names that will be making their debut at this year’s festival, however; Kermit the Frog (with a blooming banjo) and Miss Piggy will be introduced for the first time at the Flower & Garden Festival (just in time for their new movie, Muppets Most Wanted, out March 21, 2014,) and all of the topiaries will have a “new, computer-generated look while telling an entertaining story.” In addition to the topiaries, Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House returns, and this year is joined by a new exhibit of a walk-through hummingbird garden presented by the National Audubon Society, which will teach guests on how to attract hummingbirds to their own homes, as well as “Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden” garden/playground.

HGTV will also have a big presence at this year’s festival, with presentations every weekend from on-air personalities and designers. Learn how to design from top names such as Vern Yip, David Bromstad and Genevieve Gorder, and be sure to check out the new stars added to this year’s lineup: handyman Matt Blashaw (March 21-23), renovation experts Matt Muenster (March 28-30) and Amy Matthews (April 11-13) and kitchen makeover queen Alison Victoria (May 16-18).     

Last year’s festival saw another new concept that will be expanded upon this year. Based on the popularity of the fall’s annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, the Flower & Garden Festival now will have 11 booths featuring cuisine from around the world to boost the festival’s offerings. Dubbed as “Outdoor Kitchens,” these booths offer savory dishes, spring-inspired flavors and garden-grown treats in small portions, including tapas in Mexico at Jardin de Fiestas, locally-grown and curated ingredients at Florida Fresh, traditional American flavors at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews, a tropical twist on Canadian flavors at the Pineapple Promenade and the all-new Urban Farm Eats, which will feature an all-natural menu cultivated entirely from the ground!

The 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is going to be the best one yet, and with the new additions to this year’s special event, there’s no better way for your family to kick off the spring season this year!