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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?

This year the Epcot Festival of the Holidays will run from November 24 through December 30, 2023.

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

Before you book, check the Candlelight Processional schedule

Photo of the symphony performing during the Candlelight Processional at Epcot Festival of the Holidays.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

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, 7:00 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! I can’t wait to see it again this year.

Here’s the list of narrators and schedule for the Candlelight Processional in 2023:

  1. November 24-25: Chrissy Metz
  2. November 26-27: Luis Fonzi
  3. November 28: Ann-Margret
  4. November 29: Ashley Eckstein
  5. November 30-December 2: Bart Millard
  6. December 3-5: John Stamos
  7. December 6-8: Neil Patrick Harris
  8. December 9-11: Marlee Matlin
  9. December 12-14: Brendan Fraser
  10. December 15-16: Eva Longoria
  11. December 17-18: Joey McIntyre
  12. December 19-20: Sterling K. Brown
  13. December 21-23: Jordan Fisher
  14. December 24-26: Steven Curtis Chapman
  15. December 27-28: Audra McDonald
  16. December 29-30: Lisa Ling
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.

Dining packages must be reserved in advanced, with the exception of Regal Eagle Smokehouse.

Reservations for this package start October 17, 2023, but you can only book 60 days ahead of your visit or later.

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

Stay at a Walt Disney World resort near Epcot

Photo of a tall Christmas tree lit up at night outside the BoardWalk Inn nearby Epcot's International Gateway entrance.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

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 until January 2024.

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 the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays festival passport for 2023.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

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

Photo of Pere Noel telling a story at the France pavilion during the Epcot Festival of the Holidays.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

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

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

The meet-and-greet times include 11 AM, 12:30 PM, 2 PM, 3:30 PM, 5 PM, and 6:30 PM.

Times can always change, so be sure to double check the My Disney Experience app on the day of your visit.

Enjoy JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season

Photo of a group of singers performing Joyful! A Celebration of the Season at Epcot.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

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 at 1:15 PM, 2:20 PM, 3:25 PM, and 4:30 PM.

Check out Living with the Land: Glimmering Greenhouse

Living with the Land gets a nighttime makeover with holiday decor and twinkling lights throughout most of the slow boat ride. You can find this ride on the opposite side of the Land pavilion from Soarin’.

Last year, Epcot also had holiday music and decor for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, but it fell flat with guests and won’t be back this year.

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 & storytellers

Photo of a storyteller telling the story of the Daruma doll at Epcot's Japan pavilion.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

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 and holiday storytellers:

  1. Canada: Listen to the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs and learn about holiday traditions from around Canada
  2. China: Watch the lion dancer performance in honor of the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday
  3. France: Meet Perè Noël and listen to a story about Christmas as told by a young girl in a letter to him
  4. Italy: Hear the story of La Befana, a witch who visits children on the night before Epiphany
  5. Japan: Learn about the Daruma doll and New Year’s traditions from Japan
  6. Mexico: Las Posadas celebration with music, piñatas, and dancing
  7. Norway: Learn about Barn Santa from Sigrid
  8. United Kingdom: Meet Father Christmas and learn about Christmas traditions in the United Kingdom

In addition, between the Morocco and France pavilions, you can hear the incredible and inspiring story of Hannukah, as well as learn about different Hannukah traditions around the world.

Eat your way around the holiday kitchens

Photo of a banner for the 2023 Epcot Festival of the Holidays at Disney World.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

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!

Ok, moving on – Are you ready to try some delicious holiday food from around the world?

Joffrey’s Coffee

There are several Joffrey’s Coffee locations at Epcot where you’ll be able to get a horchata cold brew, with or without spiced rum, during the festival.

World Celebration

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

World Discovery

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

Nochebuena Cocina Holiday Kitchen moves over to the Test Track area in 2023.

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.

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.

World Showcase

The majority of holiday kitchens are located around the World Showcase. Let’s take a walk around to see what will be available this year, starting with Mexico.

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

Photo of the cheese fondue with bread and veggies from the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen at Epcot.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

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.

There’s always a long line at this booth, but from personal experience, it moves pretty fast!

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

Photo of the New Year Celebration Noodles with tempura shrimp at Epcot.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

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

It was sooo cold the day I tried the new year celebration soba noodles and they were so tasty! They did a good job a filling me up and keeping me warm before watching Luminous.

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.

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.

Near Disney Traders

There will be two holiday kitchens nearby Disney Traders: Char & Chop and Wine & Wedge.

Char & Chop will have a menu filled with a few different meat cuts.

Wine & Wedge will have an assort of wine and cheese pairings, though the exact menu hasn’t been shared yet.

Near Port of Entry

Photo of the snack sized chocolate peppermint shake from Epcot.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

At Port of Entry, you can find three holiday kitchens: Bubbles & Brine, Holiday Sweets & Treats, and Swirled Showcase.

Bubbles & Brine has jumbo shrimp, Jonah crab claw, and several different types of champagne.

Holiday Sweets & Treats is your go-to spot for delicious holiday beverages, like hot cocoa, chocolate peppermint shake, and a variety of Christmas-y beers.

Swirled Showcase will feature cold treats and beverages. Crossing my fingers for pineapple Dole whip!

Closeup of a Black & White cookie on a plate.
Black & White Cookie – Abigail Nilsson/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!).

In 2023, the holiday cookie stroll cookies to try are:

  1. American Holiday Table: Gingerbread cookie

  2. Bavaria Holiday Kitchen: Linzer cookie

  3. Connections Café: Holiday Sugar Cookie

  4. Holiday Hearth Desserts: Peppermint pinwheel cookie

  5. L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen: Black and White cookie (plant-based)

  6. Nochebuena Cocina: Spiced chocolate cookie

  7. Sunshine Seasons: Jingle sugar cookie with M&Ms

  8. Yukon Holiday Kitchen: Snickerdoodle cookie with Snickers crumble

Download the WDW Food & Wine app

Before you head over to Epcot, be sure to download the WDW Food & Wine app to get a glance at the menu, make a wish list, rate your faves, and upload photos.

This brilliant app is a must-have when visiting Epcot during any festival, not just Food & Wine!

The best part? It’s free!

Download the WDW Food & Wine app: iOS / Android

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.

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.

For more Disney vacation tips, check out these posts next:

About the author

Photo of Meg Frost on Buzz Lightyear: Space Ranger Blast at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Meg Frost is the creator of The Park Pixie, where she covers Disney World, Disney+, and Disney fandom.

She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and B.S. in Communication & American Studies from University of Miami in Florida.

Read more →

This post was originally published January 6, 2023. It was last updated December 20, 2023.

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