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Home / Blog / Theme Park Tips & Planning / Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023

by Mommy Frog on November 10, 2023
Los Angeles

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Disneyland Resort is one of the most festive places on earth with all of the lights, Christmas trees, holiday foods, characters in costume, music and holiday entertainment. But Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated at this time of year! Other holidays celebrated during this season include Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Navidad and Three Kings Day. Disney Festival of Holidays is a multicultural celebration that brings together different holidays and traditions — along with American Christmas traditions — from Nov. 10, 2023, to Jan. 7, 2024, at Disney California Adventure Park. We love getting to add new dimensions to our celebrating and learning to appreciate other ways that people celebrate. It's a small world, after all.

Three Caballeros at Disney's Festival of Holidays

Our Hoppin' Guide to Disneyland Festival of Holidays 2023

The Festival of Holidays at Disneyland Resort is the name of the holiday celebration that takes place inside Disney California Adventure. The celebration spreads throughout the park. It includes festival booths with many tastes of traditional foods, usually with a twist, to delight any foodies. There are also themed and sparkling beverages for toasting the season.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays - Cars Land sign

You’ll be mesmerized by beautiful lights throughout the park at night, a Christmas tree in Carthay Circle and festive décor both day and night. In fact, once the sun goes down, the lights turn on and make the park even more beautiful.

You'll need a few days to get through all the entertainment and foods you want to see. (Not to mention getting on rides and meeting characters.) This park is hoppin' for the holidays!

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays-Concert at Night

What we love the most about this celebration is that Disney California Adventure takes the holiday season and opens it up to include people — and vehicles — who celebrate different holidays outside of Christmas and even different ways of celebrating Christmas. This gives all park guests a chance to see their own holidays get some attention. Plus it's toadally fun to learn about other traditions. Kids can do free crafts and learn about different holidays. We love free souvenirs! Kids of any age can:

  • Go on a Santa-inspired scavenger hunt at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
  • Color and create a papel picado lantern at Paradise Gardens Park
  • Write a letter to Santa on Buena Vista Street
  • Do several holiday crafts in Hollywood Land.
  • Do even more crafts during Three Kings Day!

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - papel picado crafts

You’ll hear music played from various traditions and experience live musical acts that represent different cultures. You'll also get a healthy dose of American Christmas fun with Holiday Drummers, visits with Santa Claus, characters wearing their Christmas best and delicious holiday treats. Cars Land is festively lit and decorated. Be sure to hop by to wish Mater in his Santa hat a Merry Christmas! Can you spot the Cars Land Christmas movie posters when you walk through?

When Is Disneyland Festival of Holidays 2023?

Disney’s Festival of Holidays - Three Kings

The Festival of Holidays usually takes place at the same time as the Holidays at Disneyland, from early to mid-November until early January. This year, the Festival of Holidays is from Nov. 10, 2023, through Jan. 7, 2024. Be sure to check the park hours before you make your theme park reservation. The park can close early for a private event.

Three Kings' Day

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays - Tree on Buena Vista Street

Three Kings' Day in Paradise Gardens brings some special decorations, crafts and traditions to celebrate Epiphany, or the twelfth day of Christmas. This holiday of honoring three wise men is celebrated worldwide, but in Central and South America, it's known as El Dia de los Reyes Magos. You can enjoy traditional decor, and photo-ops and learn more about the holiday when you visit. Luckily, we don't have to travel far to experience it because Disney Festival of Holidays brings it to us! Three Kings' Day usually falls at the end of the festival. Three Kings' Day this season is Jan. 6, 2024.

Decorations During Disneyland Festival of Holidays 2023

As you enter Disney California Adventure, you’ll pass under the Festival of Holidays sign. The park is decorated with greens, bows, poinsettias, lights, signage, toy soldiers and the 50-foot-tall Christmas tree in Carthay Circle. At night, the park is aglow in colorful lights. You cannot help but feel swept away to a winter wonderland.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - cars land decor

Plus, where else can you find Christmas trees made out of hubcaps, traffic cones, tires and license plates than Radiator Springs?

Characters During Disneyland Festival of Holidays 2023

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays - Santa Mater

Many characters are dressed to impress in their holiday best. All of the traditional Disney favorites — Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy — are dressed for the season in their vintage holiday wear in Carthay Circle. Mirabel of "Encanto" will be back in her Casita in Paradise Gardens Park.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2022 - Mirabel greets guests

Chip 'n' Dale (and the Country Bears) usually greet guests outside the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Inside is where you can meet the big man himself — Santa Claus! — with his elves. After Christmas Eve, Santa must hop in his sleigh to deliver presents, so Santa Goofy may fill in for the rest of the season (from Dec. 25 on). When you meet Santa, you can get a free candy cane!

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - Santa at redwood creek challenge trail

When you go to meet Santa, also keep an eye out for Chip 'n' Dale. Be sure to pick up a map to do fun activities in Redwood Creek (such as rubber duck races — "quack quack!").

You’ll see Mickey and Minnie, along with the Three Caballeros in the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party in their Latin American festival clothes. You can meet them in Paradise Gardens. Goofy is dressed up there too! The Three Caballeros rotate in with Mickey and Minnie and then Goofy, so you never know which character(s) you will actually meet when you hop in line. The Cars in Cars Land are dressed for the holidays too. If you love character spotting, catch Mickey's Happy Holidays cavalcade. Many Disney and Pixar characters dance around in their Santa hats and garlands.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays-Russell waves hello

Keep an eye out for rare characters, such as Carl or Russell from "Up" with a merry holiday backdrop and outfit!

Ride Overlays at Disneyland Festival of Holidays 2023

Two rides will take you for a spin during the holiday season. Both can be found in Cars Land. Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree have holiday music and lighting. The rides are more dramatic at night.

Most of the songs are related to Christmas, but if you wait around Mater’s Jingle Jamboree long enough, you’ll hear Mater’s take on the Dreidel Song (“Oh tractor, tractor, tractor, I love to watch ‘em spin; and when they get all tired, they stop and then I win!").

Merchandise for Disneyland Festival of Holidays 2023

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - festival of the holidays 2023 sweater

You can find exclusive Festival of Holidays merchandise at locations nestled among the Festival Booths. There are also plenty of Disneyland Resort holiday souvenirs and clothing in many of the Disney California Adventure shops and in Disneyland Park as well.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - hanukkah merchandise

We have hoppy news for our Jewish friends. The Hanukkah merchandise expanded. There is a T-shirt, plush Mickey with a menorah, actual dreidels, gelt, ears, a Loungefly backpack, kitchen and home decor, and more. We hope it continues to grow each year!

Entertainment During Disneyland Festival of Holidays 2023

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays - Mickey's Happy Holidays

The musical entertainment, cavalcades, shows and street parties are sure to keep you hoppin’. In Carthay Circle, catch the tree lighting every day at 4:50 p.m. There’s a ton of musical entertainment and a fun character experience, Mickey’s Happy Holidays.

Mickey's Happy Holidays

Mickey and his Disney and Pixar friends dress up for the holidays and dance their way through the festival with the Holiday Toy Drummers. Starting out near The Little Mermaid, they head to Hollywood Land. It’s a fun way to see a lot of characters at once.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays-Mickey and Pluto in Cavlacade

This cavalcade runs three times a day. Check the Disneyland app for show times. The show does some small dance numbers along the way. I don't know about you, but seeing Mr. Incredible in a Santa hat makes me feel jolly. You don't need to invest much time to catch it, which we love.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - Viva Navidad float

Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - Viva Navidad Minnie outfit 2023

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is a colorful street party with lively dancers in colorful costumes, musicians, characters and 12-foot-tall mojiganga puppets of Santa and Mrs. Claus. The shows run from early afternoon into the evening and take place between Silly Symphony swings and Goofy’s Sky School, but some viewing areas are better than others. Look for new outfits on Mickey, Minnie and The Three Caballeros in 2023!

If you want to be right in front of the Three Caballeros float, then hop in place across from the middle entrance to Paradise Gardens about halfway between Jumping Jellyfish and Silly Symphony Swings. Stand across the street from the Paradise Gardens middle entrance to be near the central float. You should see tape on the ground for the side viewing areas that have energetic dancers.

Holiday Toy Drummers

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - toy drummers

Whatever you do, make sure to catch the Holiday Toy Drummers. These living wooden soldiers are delightfully energetic and fun. In 2023, they will be back at their usual location near the obelisk/entrance to Pixar Pier!

Musical Entertainment

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - Mariachi Divas at Paradise Gardens Park

Musical acts celebrate a variety of cultures. Acts may take place on the Paradise Gardens Park Stage, Pacific Wharf Stage and Sonoma Terrace. A few smaller acts also take place in the gazebo of Paradise Gardens in the Viva Navidad area.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - blue13 dance company

Here are a few must-see acts:

  • Blue 13 Dance Company – Bollywood dance party for Diwali at Hollywood Backlot Stage
  • Mostly Kosher – Yiddish eclectic klezmer music for Hanukkah at Studio Catering Co.
  • Mariachi Divas – Bilingual holiday tunes on select days at Paradise Gardens Bandstand stage
  • Phat Cat Swinger – Classy, brassy, swinging holiday music on select days at the main Paradise Gardens Park stage
  • Holiday Toy Drummers – An upbeat and entertaining holiday show by the Obelisk
  • The Mistletoes – Acapella artistry at Sonoma Terrace
  • Tina and The Sounds of Celebration – Holiday tunes with salsa, merengue and cumbias on select days at the main Paradise Gardens Park stage

Holiday Stunt Show in Avengers Campus

The Avengers Assemble holiday stunt show is back in 2023. It is filled with Christmas fun, I mean puns. Clint Barton and Kate Bishop of "Hawkeye," take on the Tracksuit Mafia (villains in the Disney+ show) and appear with other Avengers who arrive just in time for a holiday group photo.

World of Color – Season of Light 

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays-World of Color lights

Finally, put a magical finale on your night with World of Color – Season of Light. The show will put you in an electrifying Christmas spirit for sure. You can typically join the virtual queue for the viewing area at noon each day. The second show is less crowded (and you can view it after the fireworks if park hopping).

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays-World of Color Stitch

The World of Color dining packages give you vouchers for a reserved viewing area. And the World of Color Dessert Party offers the only seated option for viewing the show while you enjoy treats and beverages. In 2023, the dessert party is $89 per guest and includes a wide selection of desserts and cheeses, alcoholic beverages for adults ages 21 and older, unlimited non-alcoholic drinks and reserved seating in the World of Color preferred viewing area at Paradise Gardens Park. Guests attending the dessert party can check in at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. You can learn more about getting a good view of Disneyland World of Color and reserving dining packages through Disneyland Dining Reservations.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays - World of color with MagicBand

If you have a MagicBand+, bring your wrist into view. The band lights up and interacts with the show!

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - kugel mac n cheese and drinks

Food and Dining During Disneyland Festival of Holidays 2023

You’d better put on your stretchy pants because there are so many yummy holiday treats and foods throughout the park at the Festival Booths and restaurants. We have a detailed list of Disney California Adventure Festival of Holidays 2023 foods in our updated guide to the yummiest holiday treats and foods at Disneyland.

First of all, the Festival Booths are open for tasty bites of seasonal favorites and creative twists on tradition, such as the Maple Hazelnut Hot Buttered Rum and the Barbacao Tamal de Res (so yummy!). There are many nonalcoholic and alcoholic mixed drinks, beers, wines and bubbly drinks for making the seasons bright. Add a Mickey Jingle Bell glow cube to make your spirits even brighter! Get the Sip and Savor Pass, which allows you to try up to eight different foods or nonalcoholic drinks for a flat fee of $61 ($56 for Magic Key holders, who also get a special lanyard while other guests receive a plain lanyard). You can also buy items individually. If you have special dietary needs, the tasting passport will help you locate vegetarian, plant-based, kid-friendly and gluten-friendly choices.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - festival of holidays passport and sip and savor pass

Paradise Garden Grill has tasty flavors from Latin America, and most restaurants have seasonal special menu items available. A few other restaurants and food carts accept the Sip and Savor Pass for seasonal items too!

Then there are the yummy holiday treats throughout the park in addition to the festival marketplaces. They're everywhere! At Trolley Treats, you have your festive caramel apples, churro marshmallow wands, pumpkin spice churro toffee, cookies, crispy treats, fudge, cupcakes and cake pops.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - barbacoa tamal de res

Fresh Candy Canes

On select days after Thanksgiving, you can line up early to join a mobile wait list in person to purchase a hand-made candy cane, made that day! Cast members only make a certain number of candy canes each day, so you need to arrive before park opening and join the mobile waitlist at Trolley Treats. The first guests may be able to purchase an already-made candy cane right away. Once those are gone, people will join the queue for the next batch. Pick up the candy cane when called.

Candy Cane 2022 dates at Trolley Treats at Disney California Adventure were Dec. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 21 and 25.

Disneyland has a few candy cane dates, too, if you can’t make any of the Disney California Adventure dates. The 2022 candy cane dates at Candy Palace in Disneyland were Dec. 4, 6, 11, 13, 18, 20 and 24.

Of course, there are other treats such as cotton candy, holiday popcorn buckets, special churros and more available in both parks. You can get a Woody holiday popcorn bucket at select carts at Disney California Adventure.

Treats at the Disneyland Hotels

The lobby of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel has a cookie cart. It has delicious gingerbread, poinsettia cookies and other beautiful treats and drinks. There are even treats for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. We always hop by for cookies and cider we can enjoy in front of the fireplace.

Tips for Disneyland Festival of Holidays 2023

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney Festival of Holidays 2023 - hot buttered rum

Here are a few tips for visiting the Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure:

  • Check the park hours and showtimes for must-see shows before your visit.
  • Arrive early (by park opening) to maximize your time.
  • If you are staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, take advantage of Early Entry to ride a lot of rides in the morning.
  • Pick up a Tasting Passport and Sip and Savor Pass as soon as you arrive, as lines can get long.
  • Note the allergy, kid-friendly, plant-based and vegetarian options in the passport.
  • Get some PhotoPass Photos with some magic shots for hoppy holiday surprises (including a special Magic Key PhotoPass photo).
  • When ordering at the festival booths, order any item you want from the shortest line, even if it’s from a different booth. Then take your receipt to the pick-up window. We love skipping lines!
  • Use Mobile Order at quick-service restaurants to skip long food lines.
  • Hop into Cars Land at night to enjoy the holiday lights and ride overlays.
  • Check out the free holiday crafts. We frogs love free stuff!
  • Meet classic and new Disney characters in Pacific Gardens Park.

What are you most excited about at Disneyland Festival of Holidays? If you are looking for multiday tickets so you can enjoy Festival of Holidays and more holiday time fun at Disneyland Park, your favorite froggy friends can help you save money with discount Disneyland Resort tickets. That means you'll have more money to try tasty foods and treats and holiday presents! Ribbit, ribbit!

Related: Guide to the Hoppiest Holidays at Disneyland

Related: Our Guide to the Yummiest Holiday Treats and Foods at Disneyland Resort

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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