We are nearing the most wonderful time of the year so I figured I would take the time to write a guide and give you a complete look at Epcot’s Festival Of The Holidays. Let’s take a look at the holiday offerings taking place at Epcot this year.
If you haven’t been to Epcot during the holidays you may be wondering if this is a new event as a lot of folks just haven’t heard of it. Technically, Festival Of The Holidays has been around for a couple of years now. It used to be called Holidays Around The World, but last year it was rebranded to Festival Of The Holidays to fall in line with the other events that take place at Epcot
throughout the year.
For 2019 Epcot’s Festival Of The Holidays will run from November 18th to December 30th. But there are a few offerings that have different start dates. In some ways this is one of the smaller-scale events at Epcot believe it or not, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of additions for the holidays.
The countries in the World Showcase are beautifully decorated for the holidays, there are some really great holiday overlays on some attractions as well. Including some incredibly beautiful lights dressed all over Living With The Land.
But of course, in typical Epcot style tons of food is brought in. The event will feature 12 holiday kitchens serving up classic dishes from around the globe. Festival Of The Holidays will also include tons of entertainment; with 7 holiday storytellers, six musical acts, and so much more.
Food at Festival Of The Holidays
Like all of the other events at Epcot, Festival Of The Holidays includes several pop-up food booths called holiday kitchens. They serve up classic holiday dishes from countries around the globe as which are represented here at World Showcase.
But unlike Food and Wine all of these booths around the World Showcase Lagoon only, but something nice about this event is that the dishes can be a little bit bigger. This is the one festival where the food booths serve a mix of small plates and big plates, so that’s a nice bonus.
Some of my favorite booths include the Yukon Holiday Kitchen in Canada and Las Posadas in Mexico. But many booths will debut new dishes every year. For a full guide to all of the different food booths at Epcot’s Festival Of The Holidays, you should definitely check out Disney Food Blog’s incredibly exhaustive guide!
Last year Epcot dotted cookies around a few holiday kitchens in World Showcase hence the birth and name of the cookie stroll. How this works is that at five-holiday kitchens you can purchase a different holiday cookie; after purchasing it you’ll get a special stamp in your holiday Passport.
Once you’ve collected all five stamps you can head to the holiday sweets and treats booth in showcase Plaza where you can pick up a completer cookie and a cold glass of milk.
Epcot Festival of The Holidays Dining Packages
In case you didn’t know, Epcot has the largest collection of table service restaurants in all of the parks at Walt Disney World. Like other festivals, there are dining packages at some of these restaurants that include reserved seating for the events’ main entertainment offering. In this case, it’s the candlelight processional and since this is perhaps the most iconic aspect of this event I highly recommend it.
If you are used to going to Flower and Garden Festival or Food and Wine, those dining packages might be worth it if you really have a passion for the particular group, band, or singer that is performing. But for candlelight processional, I think this is the one-time that a dining package is crucial if you want to get a prime seat to the show.
This dining package is offered at all the table service restaurants in Epcot both in Future World and World Showcase. The only exceptions are the parks two signature restaurants Le Cellier in Canada and Monsieur Paul in France. Additionally, two locations at the nearby hotels also offer the dining package Trattoria al Forno at the boardwalk and Ale & Compass at Disney’s Yacht Club.
This dining package is offered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner depending on where you go. On average the breakfast package can range anywhere from $38 for adults and $22 for kids, or as high as $65 for adults and $38 for kids. That’s mainly because of the royal banquet hall in Norway, which is a little bit expensive.
The breakfast packages are only available at four locations, but there are a lot more options for lunch and dinner at the Festival of The Holidays. These mealtimes also have a wide range of pricing, from as low as $15 for kids and $50 for adults up to $43 for kids and $80 for adults. One final note on dining packages is if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan this classifies as two table service meal credits, no matter what restaurant you choose.
Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree
The Chip & Dale Christmas Tree Spree is returning from last year. Like all of the other scavenger hunts at Epcot, this is a fun and easy way to keep kids entertained while touring the countries. Chip & Dale can be found in hidden locations throughout World Showcase; collecting various ornaments for their Christmas tree.
Each time you find them you can place a sticker on your scavenger hunt map; at the end no matter how well you did you can pick up a special prize which differs year to year.
This little activity is fairly inexpensive at $6.99., pass holders do get a discount and maps can be purchased usually at the pin trading station in Future World, Disney traders in Showcase Plaza and World Traveler at the back exit of the park. In the past, I’ve even seen this on sale at the pop-up market in America so keep your eyes open. Check with cast members about prize redemption locations as they change year to year.
Meet Santa & Mrs. Claus
Santa will once again be meeting his fans at the American Adventure Pavilion, but this spot is unique in that Mrs. Claus joins the big guy. In fact this is the only location to see both Santa and Mrs. Claus together at Disney World. The holiday couple will be meeting guests throughout the day from November 18th to Christmas Eve only.
There are a few particular Holiday storytellers that will allow guests to experience the depth of other cultures. For example, the Hanukkah storyteller will now be located near the L’Chaim holiday kitchen in between Morocco and France. Also Sigrid and the Christmas Gnome in Norway, the Chinese lion dancers in China, La Befana in Italy, the Daruma Doll Seller in Japan, Père Noël in France and of course, Father Christmas in the United Kingdom. They all have various showtimes, so I recommend you grab a times guide when you visit or refer to the My Disney Experience app.
Joyful! A Gospel Celebration
There are many countries that will have various musical acts as well and they will be performing classic holiday songs from those countries. But there is one key musical act in Future World, Joyful! A Gospel Celebration. This is one of my favorites and perhaps the best daytime musical act for this event. This gospel choir sings fantastic uplifting holiday songs. Check your times guide for details on this.
Other Musical Acts
The remaining musical acts are Mariachi Cobre in Mexico, which gets a holiday overlay called Las Posadas Celebration. Also, Durch and Durch, a Bavarian band in Germany, Sahara Beat in Morocco, the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs who are pretty popular, and of course the Voices of Liberty transformed into the Dickens Carolers, which another fantastic musical act.
Disney recently announced that sometime in the fall of 2019 we will get a temporary show called Epcot forever before getting a brand new nighttime spectacular in 2020. I personally like to dine with my fireworks at Epcot and I will be visiting La Hacienda this year with the late-night reservation just to get a nice relaxing view for the Festival of the Holidays.
There are a lot of different places you can do this though. Check out Spice Road Table in Morocco or the Rose and Crown pub in the UK. I think this is the best way to watch the fireworks, but other notable good places to watch the show are in Italy near the gondolas at the lagoon and the island in between France and the UK.
Epcot Candlelight Processional
The candlelight processional is a Disney holiday icon and I know that a lot of people plan their holiday trip to Disney World around this specific performance. This is a one-hour long retelling of the story of Christ and his birth complete with a 50-piece Orchestra, an impressively large choir, and a celebrity narrator. It’s very moving and perhaps the most popular form of entertainment in Epcot’s entire year.
A few more practical details on the show; even though the entire event starts November 18th candlelight processional starts a little bit later. But this year it will start on Thanksgiving November 22nd and run all the way until December 30th.
This is located at the American Gardens Theater at the very back of World Showcase and there are three performances each night at 5 PM, 6:45 PM and 8:15 PM. The first two performances are usually the most difficult to get seats, but I find that the last performance can be somewhat easier.
Here is the list of narrators for the 2019 Candlelight Processionals.
- 11/29-12/1 – Ming-Na Wen
- 12/2-12/5 – Neil Patrick Harris
- 12/6-12/7 – Whoopi Goldberg
- 12/8-12/10 – Isabella Rossellini
- 12/11-12/12 – Chita Rivera
- 12/13-12/15 – Gary Sinise
- 12/16-12/18 – Pat Sajak
- 12/19-12/21 – Warwick Davis
- 12/22-12/24 – Steven Curtis Chapman
- 12/25-12/26 – Edward James Olmos
- 12/27-12/28 – Marlee Matlin
- 12/29-12/30 – Lisa Ling
Reservations for the Candlelight Processional Dining Packages can be made on the Disney World website or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
Tips For Epcot’s Festival Of The Holidays
Before you go I’ve got some tips for your holiday trip to Epcot and how to best experience this year’s Festival of The Holidays at Epcot. This special event does feature some unique little gems and even if you visited the park before during the holidays I’m sure some of these tips will be new and really helpful for you and your family.
Tip 1: Grab a passport
There are three key reasons why this is my first tip today. First of all as you probably know these passports include all of the menus at the holiday kitchens; but the real reason to grab this is because it also features showtimes for holiday storytellers and other added entertainment for the event. The paper park map obviously does feature the locations of everything but it doesn’t include showtimes and menus and most importantly I find that the My Disney Experience app these days can be a little bit glitchy and unreliable. So grab a passport, its small, fits in your pocket, and includes the crucial details you’ll need for the day.
Tip 2: Free Annual Passholder Magnet
If you are an annual pass holder, make sure you pick up your goofy holiday magnet at Mouse gear or Disney traders. This is the only holiday freebie for Annual Pass holders and it’s only available at this park. So if you’re collecting the set make sure you pick this up.
Tip 3: Holiday Characters
Make sure that you try to make time for special holiday character appearances. Hollywood Studios is still the best and easiest place to see a handful of characters in their holiday gear, but Epcot has three unique character meet-and-greets which are only found here just for the holiday season. We, of course, have the return of Belle in her holiday dress at the France pavilion. She can usually be found at the France gazebo, but recent reports suggest that construction walls are up in this area now so she sometimes is relocated a little bit further down the path. Pluto can also be found towards the entrance to the park sporting winter earmuffs and his holiday scarf.
Tip 4: Storytellers
Try to take some time to watch at least one of the holiday storytellers. I specifically suggest you try one from a country or culture you’re unfamiliar with. This is one of the few instances where an Epcot festival keeps the tradition of the park’s original intention alive to educate guests while still being entertaining. I find that kids, in particular, loves Sigrid and the Christmas Gnome in Norway the most.
Tip 5: Enjoy Desserts
Definitely save room for the sweet stuff at the holiday kitchens! If you’ve been spoiled by the dozens of food booths and dishes offered at other festivals like food and wine you may feel that the holiday kitchens at this event don’t offer as much variety. The savory dishes have definitely improved over time, but food doesn’t seem to attract people at this festival in comparison to others. Lines at the food booths here are distinctly short if not empty, but the desserts are nothing short of excellent.
So there you have it, my friends, a complete guide to this year’s festival the holidays at Epcot. If you haven’t seen them already check out my guides for both Flurry of Fun at Hollywood Studios my personal favorite and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom. I will be updating this guide as time goes on. If you think I missed anything please let me know.
Is Santa at Epcot?
Yes, Santa and Mrs. Claus typically greet children during the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays at the American Adventure Pavilion until Dec. 30.
Does Epcot decorate for Christmas?
Yes! Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is the annual event when Epcot decorates for Christmas.
How long is the Candlelight Processional?
The Candlelight Processional is approximately 40 minutes long.
What is Epcot in Florida?
Epcot is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida.