Epcot International Festival of the Holidays | Magic in the Planning

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (what we know so far!)

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During the holiday season, Walt Disney World becomes a top destination for visitors, offering a range of festive experiences including Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays. In 2023, this event took place from November 24 to December 30, 2023. And while it is the shortest of the Epcot festivals, it truly transforms Epcot into a holiday wonderland. And while we are still waiting for details concerning the 202 festival, activities in 2023 included the iconic Candlelight Processional, the Living with the Land: Glimmering Greenhouses, the World Showcase Storytellers, the beloved Santa Claus, and the popular Holiday Cookie Stroll.

 


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Planning a Disney World vacation in 2024? Be sure to check out our guide to all that the Walt Disney World Resort has to offer this year including the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the return of the Disney Dining Plan, and more!


 

What You Need to Know About All Epcot Festivals

Epcot Festival of the Arts | magicintheplanning.comAll Epcot Festivals feature food and beverage booths throughout the park. You will find temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent booths throughout Epcot that feature exclusive menu items for each festival. Menus are released shortly before each festival and typically offer unique food and drink options that aren’t available at any other time of the year.

Typically, there is a feature show at America Gardens Theatre for each of the festivals, and each show typically has an associated dining package that guarantees admission. (But due to popularity, arriving early may still be your best bet at getting a good seat!)

Every festival offers unique entertainment, activities, and even merchandise throughout the park. Some activities are free, while others do require an additional fee. One activity to take note of is a paid scavenger hunt. Maps can be purchased (usually less than $10), and guests then search the park for items. Your completed map can be exchanged for a small treat or item.

 

Festival Tips and Tricks

Spaceship Earth in Epcot | magicintheplanning.comEpcot festivals are quite popular with the locals, which means that evenings and weekends will be busy. If you want to avoid the crowds, plan to visit Epcot during the week and make the most of your daytime hours. You may also want to avoid the first and last weekends of the event as these tend to be more crowded.

Also, keep in mind that some guests may engage in a bit more alcohol consumption, especially during the Food & Wine Festival, as many of the booths offer unique drinks and wine tastings. For some, this may not be a big deal, but for families traveling with younger children, it may be something you want to consider.

 

Basic Festival Overview

  • Dates for 2023: November 25 – December 30
  • Dates for 2024: TBD
  • Menu for 2023

Have you ever wondered what it was like to celebrate the holidays elsewhere around the world? Featuring traditions from around the globe, including some incredible cuisine and holiday treats, this festival is certainly to put you in the holiday spirit.

 

Festival of the Holidays Menu

It wouldn’t be an Epcot Festival without authentic food and beverages from around the world! While an official detailed menu has yet to be released for 2024, we do have a list of Holiday Kitchens that were featured in 2023.

Holiday Kitchens

  • American Holiday Table – American Adventure Pavilion (traditional dishes reminiscent of “grandma’s cooking”)
  • Bavaria Holiday Kitchen – Germany Pavilion (heartwarming holiday dishes and beverages)
  • Bubbles & Brine – Near Port of Entry (succulent seafood that pairs beautifully with Champagne)
  • Char & Chop – Near Disney Traders (gourmet meats)
  • Holiday Hearth Desserts – The Odyssey Pavilion (holly jolly desserts, hot cocoa, and more)
  • Holiday Sweets & Treats – Near Port of Entry (desserts and festive sips)
  • L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen – Between Morocco and France Pavilions (classic deli noshes with a side of New York flair)
  • Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen – Mexico Pavilion (Mexican-inspired food, drinks, and dancing)
  • Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen – France Pavilion (food, wine, and specialty drinks)
  • Nochebuena Cocina – Near Test Track (dishes packed with bold Latin flavors)
  • Shanghai Holiday Kitchen – China Pavilion (popular plates and potables from the China Pavilion)
  • Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen – Japan Pavilion (festive dishes and drinks)
  • Swirled Showcase – Near Port of Entry (frozen treats and beverages)
  • Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina – Morocco Pavilion (kebabs and cocktails)
  • Tuscany Holiday Kitchen – Italy Pavilion (seasonal Italian food and beverages)
  • Wine & Wedge – Near Disney Traders (artisanal cheeses and wine)
  • Yukon Holiday Kitchen – Canada Pavilion (food and drinks from the Great White North)

Additional Locations

  • Funnel Cake – Between the American Adventure Pavilion and Japan Pavilion (mini funnel cake topped with peppermint ice cream, chocolate whipped cream and crushed peppermint)
  • Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company – Throughout EPCOT (selection of coffees, plus special holiday treats)
  • Refreshment Outpost – Between the China and Germany Pavilions (snacks and beverages to go)
  • Refreshment Port – Showcase Plaza (comfort foods and festival specialties)

 

Candlelight Processional

The Candlelight Processional is a highly renowned event at the Festival of Holidays that attracts families year after year. Located at the outdoor American Gardens Theatre in the World Showcase’s American section, this cherished tradition features celebrity narrators presenting the Christmas Story. Accompanied by a remarkable 50-piece orchestra and a large choir, the performance is truly captivating. Lasting for about 40 minutes, the show typically occurs three times daily at 5:15, 7:00, and 8:30 PM.

While admission is free, obtaining a seat can be challenging due to its immense popularity. If you have your heart set on seeing the show, we strongly encourage you to consider purchasing a Dining Package for guaranteed seating. Without a Dining Package ticket, your only option to attend the show is by trying for a standby seat, which may involve waiting in line for up to 2 hours or even longer. However, even if you have a dining package, during peak times or when popular narrators are scheduled, it is advisable to arrive early since the seating is not assigned with the package.

Here’s a look at last year’s narrator lineup:

  • Chrissy Metz (NEW): November 24-25
  • Luis Fonsi (NEW): November 26-27
  • Ann-Margret (NEW): November 28-29
  • Simu Liu: November 30-December 2
  • John Stamos: December 3-5
  • Neil Patrick Harris: December 6-8
  • Marlee Matlin: December 9-11
  • Brendan Fraser (NEW): December 12-14
  • Eva Longoria (NEW): December 15-16
  • Joey McIntyre (NEW): December 17-18
  • Sterling K. Brown (NEW): December 19-20
  • Jordan Fisher (NEW): December 21-23
  • Steven Curtis Chapman: December 24-26
  • Audra McDonald (NEW): December 27-28
  • Lisa Ling: December 29-30

 

Candlelight Processional Dining Packages

Rose & Crown Dining Room in Epcot | magicintheplanning.com

One of the best ways to make sure you get a seat at the Candlelight Processional is by booking a Candlelight Processional Dining Package. This package includes a delicious meal and a ticket for a guaranteed seat at the show. Depending on where you choose to eat, prices for adults in 2023 ranged from $55 to $104, while children’s prices were between $24 and $53. Here’s a look at what 2023 had to offer:

  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Norway Pavilion) – Adult: $71 (B) $83 (L/D) | Child: $45 (B) $53 (L/D)
  • Biergarten Restaurant (Germany Pavilion) – Adult: $65 | Child: $37
  • Coral Reef Restaurant (The Living Seas) – Adult: $78 | Child: $32
  • Garden Grill Restaurant (The Land Pavilion) – Adult: $63 (B) $78 (L/D) | Child: $40 (B) $50 (L/D)
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse (Canada Pavilion) – Adult: $104 | Child: $42
  • Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue (American Adventure Pavilion) – Adults: $41 (same-day packages only)
  • Rose & Crown Dining Room (United Kingdom Pavilion) – Adult: $66 | Child: $29
  • Spice Road Table (Morocco Pavilion) – Adult: $55 | Child: $24

*Prices listed above do not include tax or gratuity. Child prices are for those ages 3-9. B = Breakfast, L/D = Lunch and Dinner

**Regal Eagle Smokehouse does offer same-day dining packages, but they are subject to availability. Keep in mind that while your seat is guaranteed, your specific seat location is not. You will still want to line up early if you have a specific place you’d like to sit. Also, your performance is determined by the time of day you have your dining reservation, and you aren’t able to use your guaranteed seating privilege at any show other than the one assigned to you.

 

Additional Festival of the Holidays Festivities

Disney has yet to announce everything returning (or being introduced) at this year’s Festival of the Holidays, but here’s a look at some of last year’s festivities.

Living with the Land: Glimmering Greenhouses

The interior of Living with the Land was adorned with decorations in 2023. From November 24 to December 30, visitors can immerse themselves in the festive ambiance. Last year, the ride has a new name, “Living with the Land: Glimmering Greenhouses,” replacing its previous title, “Living with the Land: Merry & Bright Nights.”

Santa Claus

Guests could meet Santa Claus at the Odyssey Pavilion through December 24th, 2023.

World Showcase Storytellers

Returning for 2023, the World Showcase Storytellers proudly presented diverse holiday traditions from around the globe including Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, and more.

Holiday Cookie Stroll

The Holiday Cookie Stroll, first introduced in 2018, returned in 2023. This exciting festivity allows guests to sample delicious cookies from various countries throughout World Showcase. To participate, purchase cookies from designated “Cookie Stroll” spots and receive a stamp for each one. Collect 5 stamps throughout the festival (over multiple days if needed) and receive a complimentary specialty cookie.

Joyful! A Celebration of the Season

This amazing performance combines Gospel and R&B vocals to celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas. It’s been a must-see at the Festival of the Holidays for so long, and being right at the entrance of the World Showcase makes it the ultimate holiday experience for guests.

“Olaf’s Holiday Tradition” Scavenger Hunt

This popular scavenger hunt was back in 2023. To join in the fun, simply purchase a map from various shops like Creations Shop, Disney Traders, and World Traveler in Epcot. As you explore, keep an eye out for iconic traditions and add special stickers to your map. Once completed, return your map to Creations Shop, Disney Traders, or World Traveler at the International Gateway to receive your prize. Remember, you will likely have until December 31 to exchange your map and claim your prize.

 

 

We hope you enjoyed our guide to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays! Be sure to visit my step-by-step guide to start planning your next Walt Disney World Vacation!


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