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Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2021

by Mommy Frog on November 14, 2021 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’s Festival of Holidays is a multicultural celebration that brings together different holidays and traditions — along with American Christmas traditions — 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.

Pluto at Disney's Festival of Holidays

Our Hoppin' Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2021-Cone tree in Cars Land

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.

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.

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:

  • Design a Christmas ornament
  • Make a Hanukkah dreidel
  • Create a Diwali Akash Kandil (lantern)
  • Make a Mkeka (decorative mat)
  • Color and create a papel picado lantern
  • Color an "Encanto" page in Paradise Gardens Park
  • Do even more crafts during Three Kings Day!

Of course, these crafts from past years are subject to change.

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2021-People do crafts

You’ll hear music played from various traditions and experience live musical acts that represent different ethnic groups. Don't worry — 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 Disney’s Festival of Holidays?

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 runs from Nov. 12, 2021, to Jan. 9, 2022.

Three Kings' Day

Disney’s Festival of Holidays - DCA Tree

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 around the world, but in Central and South America, it's known as El Dia de los Reyes Magos. You can enjoy traditional decor, photo-ops and learn more about the holiday when you visit. Luckily, we don't have to travel far to experience it because Disney's Festival of Holidays brings it to us! Three Kings' Day usually falls three days at the end of the festival. However, the holiday celebration at Disneyland runs later this year as a whole, so we have more time to celebrate Three Kings' Day this season from Jan. 3 to 9 in 2022.

Decorations During Disney’s Festival of Holidays

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

Characters During Disney’s Festival of Holidays

Disney’s Festival of Holidays - Mater Santa hat

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.

Chip 'n' Dale (and the Country Bears) are greeting guests outside the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Inside is where you can meet the big man himself — Santa Claus! — with his elves. You can stand on the other side of a table from Santa this year and get close enough so that everyone can get in the photo and tell Santa what they want. I asked for a new iPhone, but Santa said the data plan is on me! After Christmas Eve, Santa must hop in his sleigh to deliver presents, so Santa Goofy may fill in for the rest of the season (Dec. 25, 2021, to Jan. 9, 2022). When you meet Santa, you can get a free candy cane!

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 also 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. Mirabel of "Encanto" meets guests nearby as well. 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 garland.

Disney’s Festival of Holidays - Jingle JamboreeRide Overlays at Disney’s Festival of Holidays

There are two rides that 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 both 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 Festival of Holidays

You can find exclusive Festival of Holidays merchandise at locations nestled amongst the Festival Booths. There are also plenty of Disneyland Resort holiday souvenirs and clothing in many of the Disney California Adventure shops. We spotted a menorah and Hanukkah gelt and merchandise in Julius Katz & Sons.

Entertainment During Disney’s Festival of Holidays

Disney’s 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 4:55 p.m. It's really quick (and don't trust the entertainment showtimes for it or you'll toadally miss it). There’s a ton of musical entertainment and a fun character experience, Mickey’s Happy Holidays.

Mickey's Happy Holidays

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2021-Chop and Dale dance in Mickey's Happy Holidays

This cavalcade is a little different than it was in 2019 and travels in one direction. 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. Shows are at 12:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. We felt like a great place to watch it was in the middle of Hollywood Land near the entrance of Off the Page. The show does some small dance numbers between Award Wieners and that spot. 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.

Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2021-The Three Caballeros and Minnie celebrate Navidad

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.

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 which have energetic dancers.

Holiday Toy Drummers

Whatever you do, make sure to catch the Holiday Toy Drummers on stage. These living wooden soldiers are delightfully energetic and fun. They have a new location on the main event stage this year!

Musical Entertainment

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2021-Mostly Kosher performs

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. Here are a few must-see acts:

  • Blue 13 – Bollywood dance party for Diwali
  • Mostly Kosher – Yiddish eclectic klezmer music for Hanukkah
  • Mariachi Divas – Bilingual holiday tunes
  • Phat Cat Swinger – Classy, brassy, swinging holiday music
  • The Suffragettes – A mix of holiday and top 40 music
  • Holiday Toy Drummers – An upbeat and entertaining holiday show
  • The Mistletoes

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2021-The Mistletoes perform on stage

Holiday Stunt Show in Avengers Campus

There's a new Avengers Assemble holiday stunt show on select days (Monday through Wednesday) and it's 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. There are new stunts, props and a holiday soundtrack to this show performance.

World of Color – Season of Light (temporarily unavailable)

Finally, put a magical finale on your night (during most seasons, but not this year) with World of Color – Season of Light. The show will put you in an electrifying Christmas spirit for sure. Some nights have two shows.

The World of Color dining packages (temporarily unavailable) 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. You can learn more about getting a good view of Disneyland World of Color and reserving dining packages through Disneyland Dining Reservations.

Food and Dining During Disney’s Festival of Holidays

Disney’s Festival of Holidays - Tots

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 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 Mickey-shaped Reimagined Beef Wellington (so yummy and cute!) and stuffing mac and cheese. There are many nonalcoholic and alcoholic mixed drinks, beers, wines and bubbly drinks for making 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 $57 ($52 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.

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!

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2021-Holiday Shake at Smokejumpers

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. At Schmoozies! get a very fun peppermint Mickey shake. We loved the Holiday Shake at Smokejumpers Grill. It comes with a doughnut with a bit of a hot cinnamon flavor. We added the new jingle bell glow cube for fun (the lights change color!). There are so many treats and festive foods that it's so hard to choose!

Fresh Candy Canes (not yet announced for 2021)

On select days after Thanksgiving, you can line up early to get a wristband to purchase a hand-made candy cane, made that day! Cast members only distribute a certain number of wristbands each day, so you need to arrive before park opening and collect the band at Trolley Treats. The first guests may be able to purchase an already-made candy cane right away. Once those are gone, the wristbands are distributed for the next batch. Pick up the candy cane by the designated time.

Candy Cane dates at Trolley Treats Disney California Adventure for 2019 were:

  • Nov. 30
  • Dec. 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21 and 15

Disneyland has a few candy cane dates, too, if you can’t make any of these dates.

Of course, there are other treats such as cotton candy, holiday popcorn buckets, special churros and more available in both parks.

Tips for Disney’s Festival of Holidays

Hoppin' Good Guide to Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2021-Sip and Savor with reimagined beef welington

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

Sip and Savor pass with guide and passport

  • Check the park hours and showtimes for must-see shows before your visit.
  • Arrive early to maximize your time.
  • Pick up a Tasting Passport, event guide and Sip and Savor Pass.
  • Note the allergy and vegetarian options in the back of the passport.
  • Get some PhotoPass Photos with some magic shots for hoppy holiday surprises (including a special Magic Key PhotoPass photo with Chip 'n' Dale Magic Shot at the winery entrance).
  • 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!
  • There's also a free coloring page in Paradise Gardens Park.
  • Meet classic and new Disney characters in Pacific Gardens Park.

What are you most excited about at Disney's 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 for trying tasty foods and treats and holiday presents! Ribbit, ribbit!

Related: Guide to the Hoppiest Holidays at Disneyland 2021

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

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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