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~Hoppin'~ Good Guide to EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays 2023

by Mommy Frog on February 27, 2023 28 Orlando

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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. Typically running from mid November to the end of December, 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!

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays - Festival passport

Overview of EPCOT International Festival of Holidays

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Signage at entrance

Formerly Holidays Around the World, the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays typically runs from mid November to the end of the December, providing plenty of time to spread Christmas cheer. And best of all, EPCOT Festival of the Holidays is included with regular park admission!

You'll feel the festive spirit right away as holiday music plays at the front of the park. Enjoy select decorations throughout the park, including a larger-than-life tree at the entrance to World Showcase. Savor holiday food and drink from around the world at more than 15 food booths throughout the park. Enjoy the popular Candlelight Processional, holiday storytellers, ride overlays (including the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind) and more!

Here's everything to know about this wonderful festival. (We won't judge if you're playing Christmas music as you read. Siri, play "All I Want for Christmas is You.")

Entertainment at EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

Candlelight Processional

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Candlelight Processional

The most popular entertainment at the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is the Candlelight Processional. With nightly performances at America Gardens Theatre, a celebrity narrator retells the biblical tale of Christmas along with a live orchestra, Voice of Liberty and the Walt Disney Cast Choir performing inspirational songs of hope and joy. This is the perfect way to remind your tadpoles of the reason for the season as you enjoy gorgeous choral pieces. The Candlelight Processional is back in full glory as the cast choir is joined by guest choirs from around Florida. We are hoppin' with excitement to see who will be in this year's lineup!

Performances are typically held each night at 5:15 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at America Gardens Theatre. The runtime is approximately 50 minutes. The 2023 lineup will be released several weeks prior to the event, but you can get an idea from our 2022 Candlelight Processional Celebrity Narrators list.

Candlelight Processional Narrators - EPCOT Festival of Holidays

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. You'll want to be there at least an hour in advance to join the standby queue, which is located on the side closest to Italy. 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. Restaurants include Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Biergarten Restaurant, Coral Reef Restaurant, Garden Grill Restaurant, Le Cellier Steakhouse, Regal Eagle Smokehouse, Rose & Crown Dining Room and Spice Road Table. Note that most discounts, including Annual Passholder and Tables in Wonderland, do not apply to these packages. Packages usually go on sale mid September and openings may be limited.

We managed to snag a day-of dining package at Garden Grill, so we could enjoy a character meal and receive our seating vouchers. We arrived 30 minutes prior to showtime at the dining package queue, which is located on the side closest to Japan. The front section was mostly already filled, but we still got a centered view in the third row of the main section. They do rope off the front third of the theater for dining packages only, while the standby queue is filled in behind. If you have a dining package voucher, arrive no later than 15 minutes prior to showtime.

Holiday Storytellers and Global Holiday Traditions

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Père Noël storyteller in France

Performers bring local holiday traditions to life in their respective countries around World Showcase during the 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.

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 on the My Disney Experience app for those that you just can't miss! We find that most of the storytellers have at least one performance every hour or so with about a 15-minute runtime.

EPCOT Int'l Festival of the Holidays - Hanukkah Storyteller

Here are the holiday traditions and storytellers, performing daily unless otherwise noted:

  • Mexico: Las Posadas presents dancers, piñatas and Mariachi music (Sundays through Thursdays).
  • 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.
  • Italy: La Befana, the kind-hearted witch who visits children on the Eve of the Epiphany, shares her story.
  • Japan: You can ring in the Japanese New Year with the story behind its good luck charm, the Daruma doll.
  • Hanukkah: Storyteller Zachary shares the legends and songs of Hanukkah celebrations worldwide between the Morocco and France pavilions.
  • 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.

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Santa posing with young girls

  • The Odyssey Pavilion: Enjoy a visit from Santa Claus himself with a grand festive backdrop and PhotoPass photographer. There's plenty of space for everyone to get into the photo with this great new set-up. Tad and Lily had a fun time chatting with Santa — he even taught us how to speak reindeer! He is available intermittently from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 24.

JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Joyful singers

JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season concerts celebrate the joy of Christmas and Kwanzaa. Taking place on the World Showcase Plaza Stage (located next to the Port of Entry store), enjoy a seasonal blend of inspiring gospel, jazz, R&B and more. This wonderful, upbeat performance will surely get your family in the holiday spirit in no time!

Showtimes: 1:15 p.m., 2:20 p.m., 3:25 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

Voices of Liberty

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Voices of Liberty

During the festival, the talented Voices of Liberty perform holiday classics as the Dickens Carolers! We hoppened upon them singing "I Have a Little Dreidel." You can hear them throughout the day inside the American Adventure rotunda. Check the My Disney Experience app for showtimes.

Projections on Spaceship Earth

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Projections on Spaceship Earth

Beginning after sunset, Spaceship Earth receives a special holiday projection show! This year, the projections feature the song "When We're Together" from "Olaf's Frozen Adventure" holiday short.

Seasonal Activities at EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

Holiday Ride Overlays

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Living with the Land holiday overlay

Since 2019, Living with the Land receives a holiday transformation with sparkling Christmas lights and decor. As you cruise through the EPCOT greenhouses, you can see colorful wreaths, twinkling lights and even a Mickey reindeer head. Our favorite part is traveling through the final tunnel with all of the festive lights on both sides! While the decorations are up during the day, we think it's better to ride at night for the full effect.

Last year, the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction traded out its regular playlist of songs for a holiday mash-up that felt out-of-this-world! This new single featured holiday classics, including some marvelous remixes including "Run Run Rocket." We're so frogcited to see if this will hoppen again this year in 2023!

EPCOT Festival of the Holidays – Winnie the Pooh with Santa hatSeasonal Character Greetings

You'll find that some of the characters around EPCOT have added some festive touches in honor of the holiday season. We just adored seeing Winnie the Pooh in his Santa hat! The princesses are all in their normal outfits as they appear throughout the World Showcase, sometimes with a festive accessory, such as a bow.

Gingerbread Houses

At The American Adventure pavilion, guests can see intricate gingerbread houses. We saw replicas of the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and even the American Adventure Pavilion itself!

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 $9.99 plus tax from Creations Shop, 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!)

EPCOT Festival of the Holidays – Olaf statue

Olaf has been sledding around World Showcase, collecting new and interesting holiday traditions to share with Anna and Elsa, but he 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 Creations Shop or World Traveler in exchange for a gift worth melting for!

Holiday Kitchens at EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Nochebuena Cocina holiday kitchen

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. With 17 Holiday Kitchens to choose from, there is something for everyone on the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays menus! There are lots of returning favorites and a few new dishes, including the new Nochebuena Cocina holiday kitchen. Hop on over to our post with the full menus for all the details!

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — All four donuts from The Donut Box

We tasted a few dishes from around the world, starting off with a great selection from The Donut Box. There are four doughnuts to choose from, or you can purchase a box with all four, getting the full variety and saving a little dough. We tried the Impossible Chorizo Tamale from the new Nochebuena Cocina booth and washed it down with the Chocolate Peppermint Shake from the nearby Holidays Sweets & Treats booth. Later on, we enjoyed the Macaron Lollipop from France. We can't wait to try more as the festival continues!

Holiday Cookie Stroll

EPCOT Festival of the Holidays – Chocolate Crinkle Cookie from America

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 five, bring the stamped passport to the Holiday Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen for a complimentary cookie! With stops located across World Showcase and cookies at about $2.50 a pop, it's a pretty sweet deal, and 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.

The 2022 Holiday Cookie Stroll locations are:

  • Nochebuena Cocina: Alfajores (Vanilla Shortbread Cookie with Dulce de Leche and Coconut)
  • Yukon Holiday Kitchen: SNICKERS-Doodle Cookie made with SNICKERS® Bar pieces
  • L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen: Black and White Cookie (plant-based)
  • American Holiday Table: Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
  • Bavaria Holiday Kitchen: Linzer Cookie
  • Holiday Hearth Desserts: Gingerbread Cookie
  • Sunshine Seasons: M&M’s® Sugar Cookie
  • Connections Café: Sugar Cookie

Tips for EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Garland in France

Here are our favorite top 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 locations 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 it made our lives so much easier. However, be sure to check out the My Disney Experience app for specific showtimes!
  • If you're wanting some individual time with Santa, be sure to catch his set times and try to arrive at or before the start time. He typically stays out for an hour at a time and has lots of great conversations.
  • We found that crowds seemed to grow as the day went on. We arrived right at park opening and enjoyed light crowds for the first couple of hours. We experienced longer lines at the Holiday Kitchens during peak lunch and dinner times.
  • With so much food and drink available, you may want to budget accordingly. To help you do so, you can get a wearable, festival-themed Disney Gift Card featuring Olaf! The gift card is available in amounts of $15 and you can reload as many times as you'd like.
  • We recommend arriving close to park opening to make the most of your day. Once night falls, grab some dinner (if you're still hungry, that is!) and take an evening ride on Living with the Land.
  • A certain purple dragon is dressed in his festive Christmas sweater, which you can spot during his ride, Journey into Imagination with Figment.
  • For Christmas gift inspiration, check out the Holiday Markets throughout World Showcase. The Olaf collection is too cute!
  • 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.
  • There are many photo opportunities throughout the festival. However, you can't miss the iconic tree in the middle of World Showcase Plaza!

EPCOT Int’l Festival of the Holidays — Entrance at night

We hope you've found this guide to the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays 2023 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!

Related: Complete Guide to Disney World Holiday Events

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments
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Nov 17, 2021 at 11:19 p.m. Emily Says...

The holiday festival for this year is listed as starting on the 26th, is there any chance some of it will be available on the 25th? I know there is no guarantee but I've never gone the day before one of the festivals is supposed to start so I don't know if they usually have some of it available early.

Nov 18, 2021 at 12:19 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Emily!

Festival merchandise usually becomes available on the first day of the event.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Dec 12, 2020 at 10:26 p.m. Todd Cadle Says...

Went Fri 11th very confusing getting to world showcase no Christmas decorations just the big tree no music most stores closed nothing to see not like years past I have a pass but if I paid 100 to get in would not be happy

Dec 2, 2020 at 6:58 p.m. Jeri M. Says...

We missed Epcot on our visit. It was out first time to go to Disney and Universal studios. We want to come back and definitely see Epcot.

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. Mike Says...

Love the updates! Keep em coming!!

Oct 21, 2020 at 8:19 p.m. Danielle Says...

When will we know if WDW will do the Cookie Stroll for 2020? And if so, how do we get our passports (will they be digital this year)?

Oct 22, 2020 at 2 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Danielle!

As an update, Walt Disney World has confirmed that the Cookie Stroll will be returning! We've updated this guide with all of the details. The Festival Passport will be a hard copy, like in years past. Have fun!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 20, 2020 at 5:01 p.m. Danielle Says...

Yay! What wonderful news. Thank you for the responses and updates. Hoppy Holidays!

Nov 20, 2020 at 11:28 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

You are so welcome - thank you for hopping by! Hoppy holidays! :)

Mommy Frog

Oct 21, 2020 at 3:28 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Danielle!

We aren't sure just yet - we'll be sure to update you as soon as we have confirmation one way or the other!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 19, 2019 at 3:45 a.m. Art Collier Says...

My understanding is the Fountain of Nations and stage has been demolished. It certainly was walled off and being torn down when I was there in October. That said, is it known actually where Joyful will perform?

Nov 19, 2019 at 11:28 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Art!

Joyful is confirmed for this year's event, but their location hasn't been announced just yet - we'll update as soon as we have this year's confirmed location!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 22, 2019 at 8:44 p.m. Lindsay Ballagray Says...

For the festival food booths, what is an average cost per item?

Oct 23, 2019 at 10:32 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Lindsay!

These are generally about $5-6 per item. Enjoy!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Sep 28, 2019 at 6:58 p.m. Jude Says...

Is there accessible seating at the Candlelight Processional and if so, how early should we get there?

Oct 1, 2019 at 8:34 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jude,

There are benches that have spaces in between for wheelchairs/ECVs along with reserved companion seating. We think a good rule of thumb is about 45 minutes, but it really depends on the popularity of the celebrity narrator (you may see people in place about 1-1.5 hours early), and what day of the week it is (weekends will be more crowded).

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 29, 2018 at 10:26 p.m. Margaret Wiechman Says...

Is there a special showing of Illuminations for New Years Eve?

Nov 29, 2018 at 5:36 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Margaret!

There sure is! It includes the special holiday finale and an additional New Years flair :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 25, 2018 at 11:28 p.m. Cheryl Says...

Where do you get a Festival of Holidays Passport (book)?

Nov 26, 2018 at 2:41 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Cheryl!

You can find them at the front of the park with park maps :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 18, 2018 at 4:42 a.m. Janice Says...

Do any of the food booths take snack credits?

Nov 29, 2018 at 6:13 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Janice!

They sure do! Just keep an eye out for the square, purple dining plan icon next to menu items :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 13, 2018 at 11:38 p.m. Liz Says...

Does Epcot have a daily tree lighting ceremony?

Nov 13, 2018 at 9:13 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Liz!

We don't believe so, but we'll keep this post updated if we hear differently!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Sep 24, 2018 at 3:20 p.m. Michelle Says...

I’m trying to find out if the Festival of Holidays is included with regular park admission?

Sep 25, 2018 at 11:13 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Michelle!

Yes! All of Epcot's holiday fun is included with regular park admission.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Aug 11, 2018 at 2:57 a.m. Lori Says...

Do you think hearing the stories from around the world will spoil things for those little ones who believe in Santa?

Aug 14, 2018 at 10:52 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Lori!

We never had this problem with our little ones. A majority of the concepts are still "Santa", but tell the stories of different traditions. You can explain to your kiddos that Santa celebrates differently in each country.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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