Festival of the Masters Comes To Downtown Disney

Orlando , Disney World , Downtown Disney , annual events , Veness Column
Festival of the Masters Comes To Downtown Disney
By Susan and Simon Veness
It’s too early for Christmas and we’re all exhausted from Halloween here in Orlando, so a slower paced event makes a welcome relief from a month of frights and the intensity of summer crowds. Now that the weather is cooling down slightly and the humidity is a distant memory, it’s time for the big locals’ favourite, Festival of the Masters.

Festival of the Masters returns to Downtown Disney this weekend, from 8 November-10 November, and, while it sounds like a golf tournament, it’s really an open-air juried art show and sale. Now in its 38th year, the Festival takes over Downtown Disney Marketplace and West Side, creating a sea of white-tented booths housing more than 300 award-winning artists. The honour of displaying artworks at the event is by invitation only, so you know each work will be something special.

West Side is the centre of the event and here you’ll find jewellery, photography, sculptures, paintings, woodworking, crockery and glass art, all hand-crafted, all original, some of them one-of-a-kind. While many of the works would need their own seat on the plane to get them home, there is an abundance of ‘small items’ perfect for tucking into a suitcase. And that’s your Christmas shopping sorted!

A popular section of the event is the Disney Artist Village, where artworks are focused on Disney characters and locations. Some 25 artists are on hand to meet and greet you, and are happy to talk about their craft and help you select just the right piece for your Disney collection. With the construction going on in the former Pleasure Island area in preparation for Disney Springs, the Artist Village has been moved to the area between House of Blues and Cirque du Soleil. You can even watch the artists in action, and if you stick around for a bit you may hear one of their formal chats on the ‘art of Disney’.

Festival of Masters

Also in the West Side, families will find the busy hands-on tables hosted by Michael’s craft stores, where children (and their parents, if you ask nicely!) can create their own mini works of art. This year the Make It And Take It crafts are a Mickey-inspired picture frame and a sun visor, but there are colouring pages for younger visitors, too.If the inspiration strikes you, the Michael’s Master’s Mural lets everyone put their hand to a one-of-a-kind mosaic creation.

Separate to the Festival of the Masters, but in keeping with the theme, House of Blues hosts its own Folk Art Festival on the walkwaynext to the restaurant, and while you may be tempted to conclude that ‘folk-art’ is a very loosely defined concept, there are some interesting—and certainly unusual—pieces to be had here. Think found-object art, voodoo inspired paintings, and American south motifs,mostly done in primitive style in keeping with their host restaurant’s décor.

New this year is the Mixers and Masters sip-and-stroll, taking adult beverages to an artistic level. Several of the Downtown Disney restaurants will offer cocktails worthy of the event, and if you’re particularly keen on their creations you can learn how to be your own mixologist at the Waterside stage in the Marketplace, where 10-minute seminars on the Art of Mixology will take place three times daily.

And, if you want to see how inspiration and imagination come to life at the hands of some very talented individuals, don’t miss the chalk-art drawings that will cover the pavement at the Marketplace. It’s astonishing to see these temporary masterpieces come together, and to watch the enthusiasm of the artists as they work together to create some truly astonishingdesigns.

Entertainers from Cirque du Soleil will be on hand, and there will be live music to set just the right tone for this highly-anticipated weekend of creativity. Parking will be at a premium since the locals do tend to flock to this particular festival, but if you get too frustrated trying to find a parking spot, bear in mind you can use the new valet parking service for $15.Festival of the Masters runs from 10am-5.30pm on Friday and Saturday, 10am-5pm on Sunday. Best of all? It’s free.


Four Seasons Hotel

If you were in Orlando this week you may have noticed two spectacularly bright searchlights scanning the sky around Walt Disney World. Some sort of special event, maybe, or a big sale at the World of Disney? Nope. They’re coming from the top of the new Four Seasons Resort being built on Disney property and due to open in 2014. We’re not sure if they will be a permanent feature or not, but they certainly do change the night sky in this part of town.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

And finally, sports fans take note: Orlando City Soccer will play their final season in the U.S. Pro League next year at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports, just off Osceola Parkway and Victory Way. For the start of 2015—when we expect them to be newly-elected to Major League Soccer level—they will play their first few games in the re-built Citrus Bowl stadium in downtown Orlando, before taking up permanent residence in a purpose-built soccer stadium next to the Citrus Bowl, which will begin construction in the new year.

SeaWorld Gets Ready for Christmas:The local supermarkets think it’s never too early to put their Christmas items on display, and the parks are starting to follow suit. SeaWorld has announced dates for their fabulous Christmas events (23 November-31 December), and the front of the park has been decorated already. Watch for future blog updates once Thanksgiving has passed, as we’re not entirely on the bandwagon when it comes to thinking about Christmas this far in advance!

Restaurant Recommendation: BJ’s Brewhouse is this week’s choice, especially since there is a brand new location over in Lake Buena Vista, near Bahama Breeze and just up the road from Orlando Premium Outlets. But don’t take our word for it. We spoke to John and Vera from Hove, who are used to good cafes. John said of BJ’s Brewhouse, “The setting is good, with an excellent looking bar. The variety of beers is a good start, and the portions of food are more enjoyable because they are smaller, especially for lunchtime. The quality is excellent, as is the attention to detail.” Vera, who had the $5 Happy Hour margarita, added, “It was a lovely tasting margarita, and the restaurant is a nice place to be in. We paid $23.50 for two meals and two drinks, which is £14. At home it would have been £25!” We would say that’s a fairly glowing recommendation for one of our go-to places.

Disney's 14 Day Ultimate Ticket will grant you unlimited access to both Disney World's Downtown Disney entertainment district and Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports. Be sure to check out the Attraction Tickets Direct range of Disney tickets for your Disney World holiday.  

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Orlando , Disney World , Downtown Disney , annual events , Veness Column