The holidays bring out what we think is best about EPCOT — the celebration of different cultural traditions from around the globe. EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays gives you a taste (literally!) of different holiday customs from every corner of the world, from delish dishes to unique festivities. While this year will look a little different due to COVID-19, EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays will be hoppening in 2020, Nov. 27 through Dec. 30! Disney just released details on its Holiday Kitchens, which we'll get to below.
Similar to Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, certain experiences will be modified to keep health and safety procedures in place. While some people have made the decision not to go this year, after a year plus of planning, many others are now wondering, "What are we going to do for Christmas this year?" The answer may very well now be Disney! Unlike in years' past when you needed to book months and months in advance, the silver lining this year is you don't have to. That said, if you're thinking of visiting this year, we highly recommend you get a hop on purchasing tickets and your hotel now!
Formerly Holidays Around the World, EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays toadally immerses you in the sights, sounds, flavors and stories of celebration to remind you of the reason for the season ... no matter what your frog fam's traditions are! The EPCOT festival typically starts at the end of November and runs through December, providing plenty of time to spread Christmas cheer. This festival includes the entertaining (and educational) Holiday Storytellers, star-studded Candlelight Processional (canceled this year) and delectable Holiday Kitchens. Best of all, EPCOT Festival of the Holidays is included with regular park admission!
In addition to new details for 2020, you'll also find that we've left in details from last year so that you can get an idea of what to expect if you're planning ahead for future years. (The core structure of the festival is very similar year after year.) We won't judge if you're playing Christmas music as you read this guide. Petition to play "All I Want for Christmas is You" year round, anyone?
Entertainment at EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
Holiday Storytellers and World Holiday Traditions
Performers bring local holiday traditions to life in their respective countries around World Showcase during EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. These storytellers share the history of their unique, time-honored celebrations from various countries through fun performances. Leap and I jump at any chance to educate our tadpoles while at Walt Disney World, and these performances are an enjoyable way to teach them about other cultures. Sadly, it appears that the storytellers will not return in 2020, as they are not included on the festival's list of holiday entertainment.
The Storytellers are usually something we enjoy in passing, rather than planning specific times to visit them since they take place intermittently throughout the day during the festival. It is nearly impossible to see them all in one day without hopping all over the place! However, it can be fun to seek out a certain country from your heritage to learn more about its traditions. You can find showtimes in the Festival Passport for those that you just can't miss! We find that most of the Storytellers have at least one performance every hour or so.
- Mexico: Las Posadas presents dancers, piñatas and Mariachi music.
- Norway: A hilarious-yet-mischievous Barn Santa visits Sigrid, an unsuspecting Christmas storyteller.
- China: A colorful performance from Chinese lion dancers captures the happiness of celebrating the Lunar New Year.
- Germany: Chilli da Mur, a vocal group who was new to EPCOT at last year's event, fills the holiday marketplace with merriment.
- Italy: La Befana, the kind-hearted witch who visits children on the Eve of the Epiphany, shares her story.
- America: Santa and Mrs. Claus travel from the North Pole to meet all the good boys and girls. Be sure to check out the Voices of Liberty as Dickens Carolers!
- Japan: You can ring in the Japanese New Year with the story behind its good luck charm, the Daruma doll.
- Morocco: A lively band brings the fun of street festivals and Moroccan holidays to life.
- Hanukkah: Storyteller Zachary shares the legends and songs of Hanukkah celebrations worldwide.
- France: Père Noël shares the letter of an adorable child as he explains his own Christmas tradition.
- United Kingdom: Father Christmas shares the traditions of the United Kingdom in his lush holiday garb.
- Canada: The Canadian Holiday Voyageurs will have you rockin' around the Christmas tree.
Unfortunately, Candlelight Processional will not be taking place in 2020, though we are hopful it will return again in future years.
The most popular entertainment at the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is the Candlelight Processional. In 2019, performances were held each night at 5 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. at America Gardens Theatre, with a celebrity narrator retelling the biblical tale of Christmas. This is the perfect way to remind your tadpoles the reason for the season as you enjoy gorgeous choral pieces from a 50-piece orchestra, the Voices of Liberty and the Walt Disney Cast Choir, performing inspirational songs of hope and joy.
The 2019 narrators were:
- November 29 to December 1: Ming-Na Wen
- December 2 to 5: Neil Patrick Harris
- December 6 to 7: Whoopi Goldberg
- December 8 to 10: Isabella Rossellini
- December 11 to 12: Alton Fitzgerald White
- December 13 to 15: Gary Sinise
- December 16 to 18: Pat Sajak
- December 19 to 21: Geena Davis
- December 22 to 24: Steven Curtis Chapman
- December 25 to 26: Edward James Olmos
- December 27 to 28: Marlee Matlin
- December 29 to 30: Lisa Ling
The musical pieces are beautifully woven between the narration. You'll recognize some tunes, such as "Silent Night," during which the conductor encourages the crowd to join in singing. We won't spoil the specifics, but we love the beginning and how it starts off with the orchestra, then introduces the Voices of Liberty, followed by the grand entrance of the choir and finally, the narrator.
Seating is first come, first served and can fill up fast. To secure a spot at the Candlelight Processional event of your choice, try booking a dining package in advance. When you reserve a Candlelight Dining Package, you can enjoy a full meal with your frog squad at almost any table-service restaurant in EPCOT, as well as guaranteed priority seating at one of the evening Processional showings. Note that most discounts, including Annual Passholder and Tables in Wonderland, do not apply to these packages.
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season concerts celebrate the joy of Christmas and Kwanzaa. In 2020, JOYFUL! concerts will be taking place at World ShowPlace. Check the daily park guide or Festival Passport for times, and stop by to enjoy a seasonal blend of inspiring gospel, jazz, R&B and more. This wonderful performance is sure to get your family in the holiday spirit in no time!
Likewise, the Voices of Liberty will be performing favorite carols and songs of the season at America Gardens Theatre in 2020. The a cappella group will be alternating showtimes with Mariachi Cobre. JAMMitors will perform at the Mill Stage over in the Canada pavilion. There is plenty of room at these locations and the music can be heard from all around, so don’t worry about posting up early for a spot. This is the perfect entertainment to enjoy with your family (and a perfect place for the tadpoles to get those winter wiggles out!).
Living with the Land Holiday Overlay
In 2019, the ride received a new holiday transformation with sparkling Christmas lights and decor. As we cruised through the EPCOT greenhouses, we spotted a family of snowmen, colorful wreaths and twinkling lights, including a Mickey reindeer head. Our favorite part was traveling through the final tunnel with all of the festive lights on the side! While the decorations were up during the day, we thought it was better to ride at night for the full effect. This fun overlay will return in 2020.
Seasonal Character Greetings
Since Walt Disney World Resort reopened, EPCOT has hosted some adorable character promenades, allowing guests to interact with their faves from a safe distance. This year, expect those promenades to take on a holiday spin — and look out for pop-up visits from Santa Claus (from Nov. 27 to Dec. 24) too! Mickey, Minnie and friends will be in their holiday finest, and Queen Anna and Elsa will help ring in the season between Nov. 27 and Dec. 30.
Gingerbread Capital City
The Deluxe Resort hotels will not have their typical gingerbread displays this year, BUT you will be able to marvel at a realistic gingerbread city created by Disney chefs. This patriotic display pays homage to some of the country's greatest landmarks, including the United States Capitol Building, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and a five-foot-tall Washington Monument! Typically, it can be found at The American Adventure pavilion but it's in a brand-new spot this year: World Showplace.
Holiday Cookie Stroll
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays has an assortment of different cookies at various locations around the park. If you purchase any five cookies from the Holiday Cookie Stroll locations, collect a stamp for each one in your Festival Passport. Once you have all five, bring the stamped passport to the Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen for a complimentary Peppermint Minnie cookie! With stops located across World Showcase and cookies at about $2.50 a pop, it is a pretty sweet deal, and sweet fun for the tadpoles. Plus, you don't have to get all five in one visit — you can always come back at a later date to complete the stroll if you're able to.
This year's Holiday Cookie Stroll locations are:
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany): Linzer Cookie
- American Holiday Table (The American Adventure): Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada): Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie
- Festival Favorites (World Showplace): Gingerbread Cookie
- L'Chaim! Holiday Kitchen (between Morocco and France): Black and White Cookie
Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition
If your tadpoles are fans of Ratatouille’s Hide and Squeak at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, be sure to check out this scavenger hunt. This activity is a great way to keep little ones entertained while you sip and savor your way around World Showcase. Simply purchase a map and sticker set for $7.99 from Disney Traders, Mouse Gear, Port of Entry or World Traveler on International Gateway. (You can also find them at select Holiday Markets around World Showcase, but these stops are on your way in so you won’t miss a moment of the magic!)
Olaf has been sledding around World Showcase, collecting new and interesting holiday traditions to share with Anna and Elsa, but has experienced a bit of a bumpy ride. Your tadpoles can help Olaf find his misplaced traditions in each World Showcase pavilion. When they spot Olaf, they have to match the tradition on his sleigh to the corresponding sticker on their maps. Once completed, return the map to Disney Traders, Mouse Gear or World Traveler in exchange for a gift worth melting for!
Leap and I can’t be the only frogs whose favorite part of EPCOT festivals is the food, right? EPCOT Festival of the Holidays is loaded with tasty treats sure to delight your taste buds. The wide selection of Holiday Kitchens is our favorite addition to the past Holidays Around the World.
With 16 Holiday Kitchens to choose from in 2020, there is something for everyone among the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays menus!
The 2020 Holiday Kitchens are:
- American Holiday Table (The American Adventure)
- Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Cranberry Sauce
- Holiday Pot Pie with Jackfruit, Mushrooms, Carrots, Peas, Onions and Puff Pastry (Plant-based item) (New)
- Pumpkin Gingerbread Cheesecake with Cranberry Whipped Cream and Candied Pumpkin Seeds (New)
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookie (Cookie Stroll)
- Bell’s Bright White Ale, Comstock, MI
- Shipyard Eggnog White Porter, Clearwater, FL
- Playalinda Brewing Co. Peppermint Chocolate Stout, Titusville, FL
- Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
- Martin Bay Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany)
- Pork Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce, Spätzle and Braised Red Cabbage
- Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes
- Linzer Cookie (Cookie Stroll)
- Possmann Pure Hard Apple Cider, Frankfurt, Germany
- Ayinger Brewery Celebrator Doppelbock, Bavaria, Germany (New)
- Regional Riesling
- Glühwein: House-made Hot Spiced Wine
- Citrus Blossom (Showcase Plaza)
- Orange Cream Shake in a Souvenir Orange Bird Sipper Cup (nonalcoholic)
- 81Bay Brewing Co. Cinnamon Cranberry Orange Wheat Ale, Tampa, FL (New)
- Florida Orange Groves Winery Selections
- Festival Favorites (World Showplace)
- Blackened Bass, White Cheddar Grits and Okra with Tomato and Onion Stew, Seasonal Southern Delights
- Duck Confit and Dumplings with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Fig Reduction, Alpine Haus
- Gingerbread Cookie (Cookie Stroll)
- Coquito: Tropical Eggnog (nonalcoholic)
- Frozen S’mores (nonalcoholic)
- Coquito: Tropical Eggnog with Bacardi Gold Dark Rum
- Frozen S’mores with Whipped Cream Vodka
- Holiday Hearth (World Showplace)
- Red Velvet Mini Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Icing (New)
- Salted Caramel Spaceship Earth Cookie (New)
- Snowball Cookies (New)
- Peppermint Bark
- Stollen: Holiday Fruit Cake
- Mouse Crunch (New)
- Gingerbread Milkshake (nonalcoholic) (New)
- Hot Cocoa (nonalcoholic)
- Gingerbread Milkshake with Whipped Cream Vodka (New)
- Cocoa Candy Cane: Hot Cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps
- Holiday Sweets and Treats (Showcase Plaza)
- Peppermint Sundae: Chocolate Ice Cream, Whipped Cream and Peppermint Candy (Gluten/Wheat Friendly)
- Minnie Peppermint Cookie (Cookie Stroll)
- Hot Cocoa (nonalcoholic)
- Chocolate Peppermint Shake featuring Twinings Peppermint Cheer Tea (nonalcoholic)
- Shipyard Eggnog White Porter, Clearwater, FL
- M.I.A. Beer Company Coquito Beer, Doral, FL (New)
- Hot Cocoa with Assorted Alcoholic Cordials (Baileys Irish Cream, Frangelico Liqueur or Fireball Cinnamon Whisky)
- Chocolate Peppermint Shake featuring Twinings Peppermint Cheer Tea and Whipped Cream Vodka
- L'Chaim! Holiday Kitchen (between Morocco and France)
- Pastrami on Rye with House-made Pickles and Deli Mustard
- Smoked Salmon Potato Latke
- Potato Latkes (Plant-based item)
- Sufganiyot: Mini Jelly-filled Donuts
- Black and White Cookie (Plant-based item) (Cookie Stroll)
- Shmaltz Brewing Company Hanukkah Beer: Golden Jelly Doughnut Pastry Ale, Clifton Park, NY
- Blue Cosmo Cocktail
- Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen (France)
- Rillette de Saumon: Salmon Spread with House-made Bread
- Dinde Forestière, Pommes Dauphines: Turkey with Bacon, Mushrooms and Onions in a Mustard Cream Sauce with Puffed Potatoes (New)
- Bûche de Noël au Caramel: Christmas Log with Chocolate Cake and Dark Chocolate Caramel Ganache
- Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc Fruits Rouges Draft
- Rosé Pétillant Méthode Traditionnelle Champenoise: Rosé Sparkling Wine, Pink Flamingo
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Village de France
- Frozen Hot Chocolate Martini: Grey Goose Vanilla, Vodka and Chocolate Milk
- Mele Kalikimaka (Showcase Plaza)
- Kālua Pork with Okinawa Purple Sweet Potatoes and Mango Salad (New)
- Lomi Lomi Salmon with Tomatoes, Onions, Salmon Roe, Yuzu Mayonnaise and Yucca Chips (New)
- Haupia: Hawaiian Coconut Pudding with Candied Macadamia Nuts and Coconut (New)
- Kona Brewing Co. Big Wave Golden Ale, Kailua-Kona, HI
- Florida Orange Groves Sparkling Pineapple Wine, St. Petersburg, FL
- Melon Breeze with Spiced Rum (New)
- Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexico)
- Giant Tostada de Chorizo: Chorizo served on a Giant Tostada with Chipotle Black Bean Purée, Salsa Verde, Queso Cotija, Crema Mexicana and Pickled Onion (Gluten/Wheat Friendly) (New)
- Tamal de Pollo: Braised Chipotle Chicken served in a Corn Masa topped with Mole Verde, Queso Cotija, Crema Mexicana and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (Gluten/Wheat Friendly)
- Dulce de Leche Churros: Dulce de Leche filled Churros sprinkled with Cinnamon-Sugar (New)
- Tulum Mexican Craft Beer with a Blackcurrant and Ginger Liqueur Floater
- Pumpkin Spice Margarita: Tomba Blanco Tequila, Ojo de Tigre Mezcal, Nixta Corn Liqueur, Pumpkin Spice Purée and Lime-Agave Juice with Cinnamon-Sugar Rim (New)
- Horchata Margarita: Casa Noble Blanco Tequila, Abasolo Corn Whiskey, Horchata Rum, Agua de Horchata and a hint of Cinnamon-infused Mezcal Liqueur
- Prost! (World Showplace)
- Charcuterie and Cheese Plate
- M.I.A. Beer Company White Christmas IPA, Doral, FL
- 3 Daughters Brewing 70 Degree Winter Weizen, St. Petersburg, FL
- Playlalinda Brewing Co. Gingerblonde House Ale, Titusville, FL (New)
- Ciderboys Mad Bark Apple Cinnamon Hard Cider, Stevens Point, WI (New)
- 3 Daughters Brewing Blueberry Peppercorn Hard Cider, St. Petersburg, FL (New)
- Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards 1911 Honey Crisp Hard Cider, Lafayette, NY (New)
- Sapphire Holiday Kitchen (Morocco)
- Grilled Lamb Kefta Kebab and Grapes with Euro Cucumber, Red Pepper, Pickled Pearl Onions and Harissa-Cilantro Dressing
- Confit of Chermoula Chicken Drum with Cinnamon Granny Smith Apple, Toasted Almonds, Brussels Sprouts and Pinot Noir Glaze
- Sfenj: Warm Beignets with Cream, Cinnamon-Sugar and Chocolate Sauce
- Mediterranean Beer
- Kasbah Prestige Red Wine
- The Andalusian “Poinsettia” Cocktail: Sparking Wine, Orange Liqueur and Cranberry Juice topped with Orange Blossom Water
- Shanghai Holiday Kitchen (China)
- Red-stewed Beef Rice Bowl (New)
- Curry Chicken Rice Bowl (New)
- House-made Crab and Cheese Wontons
- “Panda” Bubble Tea: Classic Milk Tea with Black and White Bobas (nonalcoholic)
- Tsigntao Lager
- Jasmine Draft Beer
- Dragonfly: Jose Cuervo Tequila Gold, Vodka, Mango Syrup and Orange Juice
- Marco Boba: Amaretto, Iced Coffee, Milk and Boba
- The Lucky Mo: Peach Schnapps, Peach Syrup, Orange Juice and Piña Colada Mix
- Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen (Japan)
- New Year Celebration Soba: Buckwheat Soba Noodles in Hot Dashi Soup with Shrimp Tempura, Fish Cake and Chopped Green Onion
- Chirashi Sushi Tree: Sashimi-grade Tuna, Salmon, Ikura and Yellowtail with Vegetables decorated on a bed of Rice
- Ichigo Mont Blanc Tart: Strawberry and Bavarian Cream-filled Tart sprinkled with Konpeito (New)
- Ichigo Milk Boba: Cranberry and Yuzu Cream Drink with Japanese Calpico and popping Strawberry Boba Pearls (nonalcoholic)
- Sapporo Draft Beer
- Tsubaki Whiskey Sour: Plum Wine with Whiskey, Cranberry Juice, Sugar and Lemon
- Tuscany Holiday Kitchen (Italy)
- Biancaneve Italian Flatbread with Mozzarella, Asiago and Parmesan
- Sacchetti alla Boscaiola: Four-cheese Mini Beggar’s Purses filled with Sweet Sausage, Caramelized Onions, Pancetta and Cremini Mushrooms with a Creamy Sauce (New)
- Cannoli Siciliani: Crisp Pastry filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Orange
- Peroni Nastro Azzurro Pilsner
- Pinot Grigio
- Rosa Regale
- Italian White Sangria with Prosecco
- Italian Red Sangria with Cabernet Sauvignon
- Italian Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada)
- Seared Scallops with Parsnip Silk, Apple Chutney and Hazelnut Croquant (New)
- Beef Bourguignon with Crushed Potatoes (New)
- Maple Bûche de Noël: Maple Mousse and Cranberry rolled in Gingerbread Chiffon Cake
- Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie (Cookie Stroll)
- Frozen Coffee (nonalcoholic)
- 81Bay Brewing Co. Maple Cinnamon Coffee Beer, Tampa, FL (New)
- Regional Icewine
- Regional Red Wine
- Frozen Coffee with Tap 357 Whisky
We tried some of the 2019 offerings, including the Smoked Salmon Potato Latkes at the L'Chaim! Holiday Kitchen (which is where the popular Pastrami on Rye with house-made pickles and deli mustard also returned!). The Yukon Holiday Kitchen also featured a new dish — Canadian Wild Rice and Ham Soup with a Pretzel Roll.
Have no fear — there are tamer global eats around the world, as well, if you or your tadpoles aren’t quite so daring. American Holiday Table offers some classic Turkey Day faves, or how about Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with Fresh Steamed Baby Vegetables from the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen? Tadpoles don't notice veggies when they're paired with melted cheese, right? ;) Menus can be found in the Festival Passport, and a kid-approved icon can be found next to tadpole-friendly items.
My favorite conquest of any EPCOT festival is finding a bit more adventurous fare that I can talk Tad and Lily into trying. In 2019, the La Genovese flatbread with Vidalia onions, white wine braised beef tenderloin tips and mozzarella won my heart (and stomach). The tadpoles deemed it as "fancy pizza."
While there’s already so much to feast on at the Holiday Kitchens, don’t miss out on special seasonal grub at standard food and beverage locations this year! These additional food and drink locations include Funnel Cake (featuring a new Sweet Potato Casserole Funnel Cake), Joffrey's Coffee (Caramel Tinsel Latte and Donut), Refreshment Outpost (Warm Brown Sugar Stuffed Pretzel with soft-serve ice cream and chocolate sauce) and Refreshment Port (T.G. Lee Eggnog with Spiced Rum).
Oh, and one last thing ... Leap and I highly suggest you 21+ froggies indulge yourselves at Prost! in World Showplace. Leap really liked the Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale — it had hints of Christmas spices, as well as toasted caramel and Mexican chocolate.
Tips for EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
- Use the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Passport to keep track of your adventures! This small booklet lets you know what's hoppening around every corner, from entertainment times to menu items and every fun activity in between. This is critical to make sure you don't miss anything during your World Showcase stroll and made our lives so much easier. It may go digital this year, so be sure to check out the My Disney Experience app or keep an eye out for QR codes to scan in the park!
- Keep an eye (and ear!) out for special holiday promenades! If you hear music changing, it's a good indication that characters may be coming, so get your camera ready! The big man himself (Santa, of course) will be making pop-up visits, as well.
- Try to knock out attractions (Soarin’, Test Track, etc.) early in the day and hit World Showcase in the afternoon. It will typically be less crowded around this time, so there will be shorter lines at food kiosks.
- For Christmas gift inspiration, check out the Holiday Markets throughout World Showcase. Last year, one particular Holiday Market hosted master glassblower, Reinhard Herzog. We watched him create unique, mouth-blown glass ornaments on the spot! Lily and Tad were practically glued to the glass display window as they watched him personalize several pieces.
- Keep in mind that Thanksgiving week and the last two weeks of December are the busiest times of the year at Walt Disney World, so crowds will be inevitable then. However, we expect them to be lower this year due to limited park capacity through Disney Park Pass reservations. However, Park Pass reservations are booking up quickly for the holiday season, so the sooner you're able to book, so be sure to hop to it!
- There are many photo opportunities throughout the festival. However, you can't miss the iconic tree in the middle of World Showcase Plaza!
We hope you've found this guide to EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays hopful as you plan your trip. Drop us a line and share a tip for the festival — or your favorite parts of this annual event!