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Epcot Festival of the Holidays Guide & Tips

Celebrate Christmas and other Winter holidays at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays at Walt Disney World.

Held each year from late November through December, the Epcot Festival of the Holidays brings together holiday customs, like storytelling and music, festive food, and holiday beverages for a lovely celebration.

So come ring in the holiday season and prepare for the new year with my guide to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.

When is the 2023 Epcot Festival of the Holidays?

Photo of Spaceship Earth at Epcot light up at night with palm trees silhouetted against the ball and a large decorated Christmas tree in the foreground.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

The dates for the 2023 Epcot Festival of the Holidays are not available yet. But to get an idea of when it runs, last year the dates were November 25 through December 30, 2022.

The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is the shortest festival at Epcot, running just a few days shorter than the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which starts shortly after.

For more tips planning your trip during November and December, check out these posts:

  1. WDW in November
  2. WDW in December (coming soon)

Before you book, check the Candlelight Processional schedule

Photo of the choir singing at the Epcot Candlelight Processional show.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

One of big draws for the Epcot Festival of the Holidays is the Candlelight Processional show at the America Gardens Theatre.

The Candlelight Processional features a celebrity narrator who tells the story of Christmas, backed up by an orchestra and choir. It runs several times per night at 5:15 PM, 7:30 PM, and 8:30 PM.

I saw the Candlelight Processional narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, who is a regular narrator, a few years back and highly enjoyed it!

Performers and dates for the Candlelight Processional are not yet available for 2023.

However, to get an idea of what kind of celebrities partake, check out this list of narrators from 2022.

  1. Simu Liu, star of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

  2. Chita Rivera

  3. Raul Esparza

  4. Whoopi Goldberg

  5. Isabella Rosselini

  6. Daymond John

  7. Josh Gad, voice of Olaf from Disney’s Frozen franchise

  8. Gloria Estefan

  9. Neil Patrick Harris

  10. Mariska Hargitay

  11. Cal Ripken, Jr.

  12. Marie Osmond

  13. Courtney Vance

  14. Angela Bassett, stars as Queen Ramonda in Marvel’s Black Panther & Wakanda Forever

NOTE: Once the 2023 dates and performers are announced, this post will be updated.

Closeup of Gloria Estefan narrating the Epcot Candlelight Processional show.
Photo by Courtney Kiefer, courtesy of Disney.

Special dining packages are also available, which include a reserved seat at the Candlelight Processional show. If you sign up for the package, you’ll receive a ticket that designates which showtime your seat is for.

Restaurants eligible for the dining package include:

  1. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (my fave!)

  2. Biergarten Restaurant

  3. Coral Reef Restaurant

  4. Garden Grill

  5. Le Cellier Steakhouse

  6. Regal Eagle Smokehouse

  7. Rose & Crown Dining Room

  8. Spice Road Table

NOTE: Restaurant selections for the dining packages are subject to change in 2023. As soon as they are confirmed, we’ll update the post!

Stay at a Walt Disney World resort near Epcot

Photo of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus in tropical holiday attire posing outside the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin hotels.
Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resorts.

Now that you know when you’re going, you need to figure out which Walt Disney World resort you’re going to stay at.

Riding the Skyliner into Epcot would be extra magical, don’t you think?

If that sounds up your alley, I recommend booking Disney’s Riviera Resort or Caribbean Beach Resort. Both of these resorts are on a direct Skyliner route to Epcot.

If you’d rather be within walking distance, spring for Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Beach Club Resort, or Boardwalk Inn and Villas.

Lastly, if you want to snag some late -year Marriott Bonvoy points, book your stay at Walt Disney World Swan or Dolphin resorts. Or perhaps treat yourself at the all-new Walt Disney World Swan Reserve.

All three of these Marriot-affiliated resorts are within walking distance to Epcot’s International Gateway entrance, which will put you right into the World Showcase.

Load up a gift card – and stick to it

Photo of two young adults eating food at a stand-up table at Epcot.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

I usually recommend getting the Disney Dining Plan at Disney World. It’s convenient and helps you stay on budget. Unfortunately it’s on hold still.

Until it returns, I recommend loading up a Disney gift card with your chosen amount. Then, use the gift card for all your food and souvenirs.

We all know the costs at Disney can easily and quickly creep up! Using a gift card to limit your spending will help you not go overboard.

Get a FREE Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Passport

Photo of Spaceship Earth at Epcot with signage for the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays in the foreground.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

When you arrive at Epcot, pick up your Festival of the Holidays passport. It’s free!

The passport includes a guide to the event, such as menus for all of the holiday kitchens and performance schedules.

Where to Meet Santa Claus

Closeup of Santa Claus at Epcot.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

Yes, friends, you can meet Father Christmas at Epcot!

In 2022, guests can meet with Santa Claus from November 25 through December 24 at The Odyssey pavilion to relay their Christmas wish and take a photo.

Dates for Santa’s meet-and-greet in 2023 are not yet available.

Enjoy JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season

Photo of 3 women performing on a stage with Christmas decorations.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

Head over to the World Showcase Plaza stage for a joyful musical performance in celebration of Christmas and Kwanzaa.

This show runs multiple times a day, with the schedule subject to change, so it’s best to consult the times posted within the park.

Check out the rides with Holiday makeovers

Photo of Living with the Land ride with the Glimmering Greenhouse holiday makeover.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

Many of the rides at Epcot get a temporary holiday makeover during the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.

For example, Living with the Land transforms into Living with the Land: Glimmering Greenhouse, where it features light displays throughout the ride.

In addition, Epcot’s newest ride, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, also has a holiday overlay and features seasonal music, including a mix custom made by Disney imagineers.

Pick up some holiday gifts

Closeup of a gift package with a sign that says "Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Presented by AdventHealth."
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

The world showcase is a unique spot to shop for holiday gifts.

How about some origami paper from the Japan pavilion? Maybe some beautiful jewelry from the Mexico pavilion? Or perhaps some trinkets from the Morocco pavilion?

The possibilities are nearly endless and you’re bound to find something for everyone – even that person who is notoriously hard to shop for!

Complete Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt

Closeup photo of the map for Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

A fun way to experience the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays with kids is via Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt.

Join everyone’s favorite goofy snowman to learn about holiday traditions around the world.

The game costs $9.99 (plus tax) for the map, which you can trade in at Port of Entry or World Traveler for a Frozen souvenir. The map can be purchased at Creations Shop, Port of Entry, or World Traveler.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to finish the game to get your souvenir!

Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt replaces previous years’ Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree as the holiday scavenger hunt at Epcot.

Watch the World Showcase holiday performers

Explore holiday customs throughout the World Showcase, where holiday storytellers, musicians, and performers will put on special shows about their winter holiday traditions.

Check out these can’t-miss performances:

Between Morocco and France, you can hear the incredible and inspiring story of Hannukah.

Las Posadas Celebration featuring Mariachi Cobre play festive holiday songs at the Mexico pavilion.

The Canadian Holiday Voyageurs play songs and tell stories about interesting holiday traditions across Canada at the Mill Stage in the Canada pavilion.

At the Norway pavilion, hear the story about the Mischievous, Magical Barn Santa from a Norwegian farm girl.

Eat your way around the holiday kitchens

Closeup of the Impossible chorizo tamale and a copper mule mug in the background.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

During the festival, festive dishes are featured at the world showcase pavilions and extra food booths around the park.

Taste testing your way around all the holiday kitchens is one of the best parts of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, in my opinion!

Are you ready to try some delicious holiday food from around the world?

Near Test Track presented by Chevrolet

Near the Test Track is The Donut Box where you can get treats like a chocolate peppermint donut or gingerbread milkshake.

Also nearby is the Chestnuts & Good Cheer Holiday Kitchen which serves cinnamon-glazed almonds, cashews, and pecans, plus fire-roasted chestnuts.

Near the Odyssey pavilion

At Holiday Hearth Desserts at The Odyssey pavilion you can get yummy treats like a salted caramel Spaceship Earth cookie or maple bûche de Noël, which is maple mousse and cranberry rolled in a gingerbread chiffon cake.

Mexico pavilion

At Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen you can get a cranberry margarita, horchata margarita, dulce de leche churros, or a giant tostada de Barbacoa with braised Barbacoa beef, chipotle black bean purèe, salsa verde, queso cotija, crema Mexicana, and pickled onion, amongst other treats.

China pavilion

At Shanghai Holiday Kitchen you can get savory treats like beef and noodle soup bowl with a sweet panda bubble tea.

Or at the Refreshment Outpost between the China and Germany pavilions, you can peanut stew with sweet potatoes, mustard greens, and roasted peanuts or raspberry Dole whip (!!).

Germany pavilion

The Bavaria Holiday Kitchen serves classic German holiday dishes like linzer cookies, pork schnitzel, cheese fondue in a bread bowl, and glühwein, a hot spiced wine.

Italy pavilion

At the Tuscany Holiday Kitchen you’ll find classic Italian food like panettone bread pudding, tortellini in brodo, and a nice selection of wines.

American Adventure pavilion

The American Holiday Table at the American Adventure Pavilion enjoy slow-roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green beans or blackened catfish with hoppin’ John comeback sauce. Plus there’s a chocolate crinkle cookie and a selection of beers available.

At Funnel Cake between the American Adventure and Japan pavilions, you can get a mini funnel cake with peppermint ice cream, chocolate whipped cream, and crushed peppermint candy.

Japan pavilion

The Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen has mochi cake, a sushi tree, and new year celebration soba noodles, plus ichigo milk boba and other beverages.

Morocco pavilion

Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina has chermoula chicken, grilled kebabs with chickpea and carrot salad, lamb kefta, as well as several hard ciders and a fig cocktail.

Photo of people lined up outside the L'Chaim Holiday Kitchen at the Epcot Festival of the Holidays.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

Between the Morocco and France pavilions is L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen featuring Jewish dishes and treats, such as potato latkes, black and white cookies, sufganiyot (kind of like mini jelly-filled donuts), and a pastrami on rye sandwich.

France pavilion

Le Marché de Noël has 2 savory dishes, salmon or ham, plus 3 chocolate-dipped macarons on a stick that resembles a Christmas tree, as well as tasty beverages.

Canada pavilion

At the Yukon Holiday Kitchen, you can get dishes such as beef bourguignon or seared scallops.

Refreshment port

At the Refreshment port by the Canada pavilion, specials include a coquito soft-serve in a waffle cone, which you can get topped with spiced rum, turkey poutine with turkey, gravy, cranberry relish, and crispy onions, and a selection of wintery beverages.

Port of Entry

Photo of people lined up outside Nochebuena Cocina at Epcot.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

Nochebuena Cocina Holiday Kitchen is the newest of the holiday kitchens, debuting in 2022. Here you can get an Impossible chorizo tamale, pernil (mojo pork with tostones and a ketchup-mayo mix), or alfajores (a vanilla shortbread cookie with dulce de leche and coconut). They also have 818 Bay Brewing Co. Horchata Beer and a Chai Ginger Mule.

Also near Port of Entry is Holiday Sweets & Treats where you can get a variety of delicious holiday beverages, like hot cocoa, chocolate peppermint shake, and a variety of Christmas-y beers.

Another holiday kitchen near Port of Entry is Mele Kalikimaka, which serves Hawaiian-inspired dishes like kālua pork with Okinawa sweet potatoes and mango salad and haupia coconut pudding with candied macadamia nuts and coconut shavings.

Connections Café and Connections Eatery

At Connections Café and Connections Eatery, you can get the holiday sugar cookie with sprinkles, holiday sangria, or a coquito milkshake (with or without rum).

Closeup of a Black & White cookie on a plate.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

In addition to meals, appetizers, and drinks, the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays features a Holiday Cookie Stroll.

Christmas cookies are one of my favorite traditions, so I love that they feature this!

Try at least 5 of the designated cookies and get a stamp for your Epcot Festival of the Holidays passport for each one. Then trade it in for a special treat (spoiler: it’s another cookie!).

Closeup of the alfajores vanilla shortbread cookies with a dulce de leche and coconut cream filling.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

This year, the holiday cookie stroll cookies are:

  1. American Holiday Table: Chocolate crinkle cookie

  2. Bavaria Holiday Kitchen: Linzer cookie

  3. Connections Café: Holiday Sugar Cookie

  4. Holiday Hearth Desserts: Gingerbread cookie

  5. L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen: Black and White cookie

  6. Nochebuena Cocina: Alfajores vanilla shortbread cookie sandwich (as seen above)

  7. Sunshine Seasons: M&Ms sugar cookie

  8. Yukon Holiday Kitchen: Snickers-doodle

Don’t forget your Epcot Festival of the Holidays merchandise

Closeup of a store display with Epcot Festival of the Holidays merchandise.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

Snag some fun souvenirs before you go so you can always remember your time at the Epcot Festival of the Holidays.

Look out for a new spirit jersey, Dooney & Bourke tote, MagicBands, pins, Christmas decorations, and other holiday merchandise.

Or snag some Epcot Festival of the Holidays merchandise from shopDisney in the shopping widget below.

Have you been to the Epcot Festival of the Holidays yet?

Let us know what your favorite part of the festival is in the comments below.

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