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There are a lot of fun things to do during the holiday season at Walt Disney World.
In the Magic Kingdom, there’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
And this year, Disney World added another wonderful holiday party, Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios.
But we can’t forget about EPCOT!
That’s because Epcot is home to the International Festival of the Holidays. At this annual event, you can learn about different holidays from around the globe, sample delicious food and drinks, enjoy fantastic performances, and more.
And unlike the holiday parties at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, you don’t need to buy an extra ticket to enjoy the festivities. The Festival of the Holidays is included in park admission! (Speaking of, we recommend getting your Epcot and Disney World tickets here to save money.)
This year’s Festival of the Holidays takes place from November 24 to December 30, 2023. And in this guide, we’ll go over all the activities you can enjoy during the festival!
I love learning about holiday traditions from all over the world. And the World Showcase is the perfect setting for this!
During the Festival of the Holidays, you’ll get to explore different holiday customs in the various pavilions.
- France Pavilion – Pere Noel
- You can rediscover the spirit of Christmas when you meet with Père Noël.
- Between the Morocco and France Pavilions – Hanukkah Storyteller
- Listen to a world traveler tell stories of the traditions and music of Hanukkah from around the world.
- Japan Pavilion – Daruma Storyteller
- Learn about the Japanese customs of the New Year and the Daruma doll.
- Italy Pavilion – La Befana
- Discover the legend of the kindhearted witch La Befana, who visits sleeping kids on the night of January 5 (Epiphany Eve).
- China Pavilion – Chinese Lion Dancer
- Take a look at a vibrant performance meant to bring happiness and good fortune in the Lunar New Year.
- Norway Pavilion – A Mischievous Magical Barn Santa
- During this humorous performance, Sigrid, a Christmas storyteller, is visited by a mischievous Barn Santa.
- Mexico Pavilion – Las Posadas Celebration
- Experience the pageantry and fun of Las Posadas with piñatas, dancers and the music of Mariachi Cobre.
- Canada Pavilion – Canadian Holiday Voyageurs
- Take a musical tour of the Great White North! You’ll find out about holiday traditions from the many regions of Canada.
- United Kingdom Pavilion – Father Christmas
- Learn of the United Kingdom’s holiday traditions from a cheerful Father Christmas.
You can see what Las Posadas Celebration is like in our video from 2023 here:
Please note that these experiences occur daily throughout the festival, with a couple of exceptions. Las Posadas Celebration happens Sunday through Thursday. And the Chinese Lion Dancer performance is only on Saturday and Sunday. You can check the My Disney Experience app to see the day’s showtimes.
Disney’s Candlelight Processional is a tradition that actually originated in Disneyland in 1960 and was started by Walt Disney. It involves a celebrity narrator retelling the nativity story, with a choir that enters one by one, holding a candle.
When Walt Disney World first opened in 1971, their version of the Candlelight Processional was held in front of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, with Rock Hudson being the first narrator. It was relocated a few years later, taking place in front of the train station. In 1994, the Candlelight Processional was moved to Epcot, with Phylicia Rashad being the first Epcot narrator.
Fast forward to 2023, and guests are lucky enough to have 16 narrators! They appear on the following dates:
- Chrissy Metz – November 24-25
- Luis Fonsi – November 26-27
- Ann-Margret – November 28
- Ashley Eckstein – November 29
- Bart Millard – November 30-December 2
- John Stamos – December 3-5
- Neil Patrick Harris – December 6-8
- Marlee Matlin – December 9-11
- Brendan Fraser – December 12-14
- Eva Longoria – December 15-16
- Joey McIntyre – December 17-18
- Sterling K. Brown – December 19-20
- Jordan Fisher – December 21-23
- Steven Curtis Chapman – December 24-26
- Audra McDonald – December 27-28
- Lisa Ling – December 29-30
The Candlelight Processional takes place three times a night: at 5:15 pm, 7:00 pm, and 8:30 pm.
You cannot buy a ticket that guarantees a seat at the Candlelight Processional, which takes place at the America Gardens Theatre in the American Adventure pavilion (part of the World Showcase).
However, you can purchase a dining package, which includes both a meal during the day and then a seat at one of the performances. We go into detail about the Candlelight Processional Dining Packages here.
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season
This performance at the World Showcase Plaza spreads the joy of Christmas and Kwanzaa with inspiring Gospel, holiday and R&B music.
You can watch the JOYFUL! ensemble at the following times:
- 1:15 PM
- 2:20 PM
- 3:25 PM
- 4:30 PM
Voices of Liberty – Dickens Carolers
During the Festival of the Holidays, the Voices of Liberty become the Dickens Carolers, complete with Colonial winter outfits. Their 15 minute performances take place throughout the day in the Rotunda of the the American Adventure Pavilion and feature beautiful holiday songs. You can check the My Disney Experience app for exact times on the day of your visit.
More Things to Do
A fun way to learn about the different holidays represented in the World Showcase is to go on Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt!
First, you’ll need to purchase a scavenger hunt map, which costs $9.99 plus tax. You can get it at Creations Shop or World Traveler. (It may also be available at other merchandise locations in the park.)
Next, you’ll look for the “traditions” that Olaf has found throughout the World Showcase. Whenever you find one, you’ll mark it on your map with one of the stickers that come with the map.
Once you’re done, bring your map to Creations Shop, World Traveler or Disney Traders. And you can redeem it for a special surprise gift! Even if you weren’t able to find all the traditions, you can still get the gift. Please note that you can only redeem it while surprise supplies last, and no later than December 30, 2023.
Meet Santa Claus
In addition to all of the other fun events, the Festival of the Holidays is a great time to get photos with Santa Claus! You can do this at The Odyssey Pavilion (located between the Mexico pavilion in the World Showcase and Test Track in World Discovery).
Santa is available for photos at specific times during the day:
- 11:00 AM
- 12:30 PM
- 2:00 PM
- 3:30 PM
- 5:00 PM
- 6:30 PM
Please note that this photo opportunity only runs through December 24, 2023.
Living with the Land Seasonal Overlay
During the festival, the Living with the Land attraction has a special holiday overlay. It becomes Living with the Land – Glimmering Greenhouses. And you’ll be able to see dazzling lights decorating the greenhouses during the second part of the ride!
Festival Food & Drinks
What’s an EPCOT festival without delicious food? You’ll be able to find seasonal favorites throughout the park.
From Dolce Pizza (fried pizza dough with cinnamon and sugar) to Bûche de Noël au Pain D’Épices, Ganache Chocolat au Lait et Noisettes (a gingerbread Christmas log) to a Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie and much, much more, there are so many fantastic options!
You can see all of the Holiday Kitchens food & drink menus here.
The following is a list of the Holiday Kitchens as well as other locations around Epcot where you can find holiday treats.
- American Holiday Table (American Adventure Pavilion)
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany Pavilion)
- Bubbles & Brine (near Port of Entry)
- Char & Chop (near Disney Traders)
- Connections Café
- Connections Eatery
- Funnel Cake
- Holiday Hearth Desserts (the Odyssey Pavilion)
- Holiday Sweets & Treats (near Port of Entry)
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
- L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen (between the Morocco and France Pavilions)
- Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexico Pavilion)
- Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen (France Pavilion)
- Nochebuena Cocina (World Discovery)
- Refreshment Outpost
- Refreshment Port
- Shanghai Holiday Kitchen (China Pavilion)
- Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen (Japan Pavilion)
- Sunshine Seasons
- Swirled Showcase (near Port of Entry)
- Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina (Morocco Pavilion)
- Tuscany Holiday Kitchen (Italy Pavilion)
- Wine & Wedge (near Disney Traders)
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada Pavilion)
Holiday Cookie Stroll
The Holiday Cookie Stroll is a fun way to get an extra specialty cookie!
First, you’ll want to pick up a Festival Passport, which is a small booklet for the festival located at entrances to the park.
Then, you’ll need to collect 5 stamps in your passport. You can get a stamp each time you buy one of the following cookies:
- Jingle Sugar Cookie made with M&M’S chocolate candies – Sunshine Seasons
- Spiced Chocolate Cookie – Nochebuena Cocina
- Black and White Cookie (plant-based) – L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen
- Holiday Sugar Cookie – Connections Café
- Gingerbread Cookie – American Holiday Table
- Snickerdoodle Cookie made with SNICKERS bar pieces – Yukon Holiday Kitchen
- Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie – Holiday Hearth Desserts
- Linzer Cookie – Bavaria Holiday Kitchen
Finally, you’ll take your stamped passport to Holiday Sweets & Treats and you’ll receive a specialty cookie!
If you love festival merchandise, you’ll want to check out the 2023 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Collection. Choose from accessories to drinkware to trading pins to apparel and more. The merch makes great souvenirs (and maybe fun Hanukkah or Christmas presents, too!).
Speaking of holiday shopping, the World Showcase is full of amazing boutiques and stores with products representing the Pavilion’s country. And if you want Disney-centric items, there are a number of stores, including the large Creations Shop. These would be fun places to purchase some holiday gifts.
Mini Festival Gift Cards
If you’d like to go cashless at the festival (and don’t want to use a MagicBand or credit card), consider buying a mini festival gift card. It has a special Festival of the Holidays design, so it makes a nice souvenir afterwards. You can purchase one at:
- Creations Shop
- Gateway Gifts
- Port of Entry
- World Traveler at International Gateway
- the festival kiosks throughout Epcot
Epcot Vacation Tips
If you’re planning a trip to Disney World to visit the Festival of the Holidays, you might want to consider staying at one of these hotels closest to Epcot. And as we mentioned earlier, it’s a great idea to get your Disney park tickets here in order to enjoy discounted admission.