Every Disney fan has a dream of visiting the Magic Kingdom at Christmas time, seeing all the festive decorations and watching the parade they remember waking up to see on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, that parade is filmed in segments in early November. There is a wonderful Christmas parade with the gingerbread men, reindeer, and toy soldiers you remember, but if you are visiting in early December you must buy a party ticket to experience it (check out my post Is the Christmas Party Worth It).
If you have been following this blog for any length of time you know I LOVE learning about different cultures, that is why EPCOT has always been my favorite. But during the holidays they kick it up a notch with traditional holiday dishes, storytellers sharing holiday traditions, and retellings of the story of Christmas.
The Festival of the Holidays starts after Thanksgiving and is my favorite of all the festivals that EPCOT hosts on a yearly basis. There is just something about it that captures the magic of the holidays and gets me in the Christmas spirit, unlike the other parks. The best part is that all of the festivities are included in the price of your EPCOT admission.
The Candlelight Processional has been a Holiday staple since the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971. The event moved to EPCOT in 1994 growing from a simple procession of candle-lit carolers into a magnificent classical concert featuring a thousand voice massed choir, “The Living Christmas Tree” made up of cast members, orchestra, fanfare trumpets, bell choir, soloist, sign-language interpreter, guest conductor, and a celebrity narrator. For more history of the event click here.
Some of the popular narrators that seem to return year after year are Neil Patrick Harris, Edward James Olmos, Gary Sinise, and Whoopi Goldberg.
For this year’s narrators keep an eye on this link.
This 40-minute show takes place 3 times a day (5:00, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m.) There is no cost to attend but it is extremely popular (especially if the narrator is well known) and seating can be a challenge. You can be guaranteed seating by purchasing a Candlelight Processional Dining Package which includes a meal at an EPCOT restaurant as well as guaranteed seating for the show.
No EPCOT festival would be complete without outdoor kitchens offering international food in sample sizes. What I love about these booths more than the other festivals is that each dish is rooted in tradition AND the portions are much bigger!
My favorite item that makes an appearance every year is Glühwein from the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen. Glühwein is a staple in German Christmas Markets where each town has their own recipe for this warm, spiced wine. It has been on my bucket list to enjoy a Christmas Market River Cruise, shop for gifts made by local artisans, try the different Glühwein recipes, and collect the different glasses it is sold in.
Holiday Cookie Stroll
If you have a sweet tooth you may want to check out the Holiday Cookie Stroll. In the festival guide, you will find a list of 5 cookies, when you try each of these cookies you receive a special stamp, bring those stamps for a free cookie.
For the latest Festival of The Holidays Food Booths and Menus https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/epcot/holiday-kitchens/.
During my first trip to Walt Disney World in 1994, I fell in love with EPCOT thanks to the cast members who took the time to teach me about their countries and traditions. This takes it one step further to have incredible actors tell you about the holiday traditions in each country.
Mexico: Las Posadas Celebration: Join the fun and pageantry of Las Posadas with dancers, piñatas and the music of Mariachi Cobre
Norway: A Mischievous Magical Barn Santa: Celebrate the season with laughter as a mischievous Barn Santa visits Sigrid, an unsuspecting Christmas storyteller
China: Chinese Lion Dancer: This colorful performance brings good fortune and happiness in the Lunar New Year.
Germany: Chilli Da Mur – NEW in 2019!: Join as this accomplished German vocal group celebrates the season with folk music, pop, and original songs
Italy: La Befana: Listen to the tale of La Befana, a kind-hearted witch who visits sleeping children on the eve of the Epiphany
The American Adventure: Santa and Mrs. Claus: Enjoy a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who have slipped away from their workshop at the North Pole to bring good cheer to you this holiday season.
Japan: Daruma Storyteller: Hear the fascinating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year
Morocco: Join in as a lively band recreates the fun of street festivals and the holiday season across Morocco
Between France & Morocco: Hanukkah Storyteller: Join the storyteller Zachary as he shares legends, tells tales and sings songs, highlighting Hanukkah celebrations throughout the world
France: Père Noël: Visit with Père Noël and rediscover the magic of Christmas through the letter of a delightful child
United Kingdom: Father Christmas: Join Father Christmas as he rings in the season, sharing the traditions of the United Kingdom and good cheer
Canada: Canadian Holiday Voyageurs: Explore holiday customs from across the vast regions of Canada on a musical tour of the Great White North
Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree
If you are concerned about keeping your children engaged as you enjoy eating and drinking around the world you can get them involved in a scavenger hunt. For the holidays, it’s Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree, which is akin to the Figment and Ratatouille ones during other festivals at Epcot. Chip and Dale are collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree, and you go around looking for them as they gather ornaments from holiday decorations in each World Showcase pavilion. Once finished, you receive a festive ‘reward.’
Joyful! A Celebration Of The Season
Located at Showcase Plaza (check the Times Guide for performance times), celebrate Kwanzaa and Christmas through spectacular Gospel and R&B vocals.
Voices Of Liberty
The popular a cappella group becomes the “Dickens Carolers” and can be seen daily performing charming holiday melodies. Check the Times Guide for performance times.
Living With The Land: Merry And Bright Nights
When the sun has set, take a fantastical journey through this fan-favorite all decked out for the holidays with lights galore!
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