Christmas at Disney World is like no other vacation destination in the world and Epcot Festival of the Holidays adds to that seasonal magic in a big way.
The holidays around the world experience shows you how to enjoy this time of year with cultural traditions and practices from countries across the globe.
And believe me, Epcot does Christmas in Disney the right way!
After reading this guide, you’ll be ready to spend your Yuletide season at Epcot Festival of the Holidays in the best way possible.
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What is the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays?
This Epcot Festival is Disney’s way of introducing you to global celebrations that take place around the world during this time of year.
At the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays you can expect to indulge in sweet and savory treats from the Holiday Kitchens and have the opportunities to hear festive stories from Cast Members represented in each country.
What are the Epcot Festival of the Holidays 2021 Dates?
14 Things to Do for a Disney Christmas at EPCOT
Now let’s get into the good stuff and go over all the spectacular things that you can do to enjoy your Disney Christmas at Epcot.
1. Visit all the Holiday Kitchens
While enjoying the holidays around the world at Epcot, be sure to eat your way through the kitchens.
In case you don’t know, the kitchens are little food booths that give you a sample size of a seasonal dish for the country represented. This is by far the BEST part of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.
2021 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Food Booths:
- American Holiday Table – American Adventure Pavilion (Traditional American dishes)
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen – Germany Pavilion (Classic German holiday dishes)
- Chestnuts & Good Cheer Holiday Kitchen – Near Port of Entry – NEW! (Cinnamon-glazed nuts and holiday beverages)
- The Donut Box – Near Test Track Presented by Chevrolet (Seasonally-themed donuts)
- Holiday Hearth Desserts – Near Port of Entry (Christmas desserts and hot cocoa)
- Holiday Sweets & Treats – Near Port of Entry (Holiday desserts and tantalizing drinks)
- L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen – Between Morocco and France Pavilions (Classic deli goodies)
- Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen – France Pavilion (Delicious wine and specialty cocktails)
- Mele Kalikimaka – Near Port of Entry (Traditional holiday food from the islands of Hawai‘i)
- Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen – Mexico Pavilion (Enjoy delicious Mexican yuletide treats)
- Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen – Japan Pavilion (Indulge yourself in merry delights)
- Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina – Morocco Pavilion (Enjoy kebabs and cocktails)
- Tuscany Holiday Kitchen – Italy Pavilion (Have traditional Italian holiday dishes)
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen – Canada Pavilion (Enjoy hearty options and intoxicating drinks)
- Funnel Cake – Between the American Adventure Pavilion (You can’t go wrong with a Pumpkin Pie Funnel Cake)
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company – Throughout EPCOT (Taste seasonal coffees and treats)
- Refreshment Outpost – Between the China and Germany Pavilions (Don’t miss the Coconut-Pineapple Cake with DOLE Whip)
- Refreshment Port – Showcase Plaza (The winner is the holiday poutine for you to pair with Coquito Soft-serve topped with Spiced Rum)
You can view the FULL menu for the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays here.
2. Watch the Holiday Storytellers
The thing I really love about the holidays around the world at Epcot is listening to the storytellers. Many of the countries inside World Showcase highlights a significant holiday pastime of its culture through oral tradition.
From Santa Claus cheery stories to legends of the Great White North from the Canadian Voyageurs, there’s something you’ll learn from this incredible addition to the event.
2021 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Storytellers and Entertainers
- Mexico (Listen to tunes of the Las Posadas Celebration with the Mariachi Cobre band and dancers)
- Norway (Watch the mischievous Barn Santa try to help tell the Christmas storyteller in Norway)
- China (Watch the Chinese New Year Lion Dance celebrating the Lunar New Year)
- Germany (Listen folk music inspired by the holidays)
- Italy (Learn how Italy celebrates the Eve of the Epiphany through the tale of La Befana)
- The American Adventure (Meet jolly ole St. Nick AKA Santa Claus)
- Japan (Learn about the Daruma doll and Japanese culture for the New Year)
- Morocco (Listen to festive band play their own holiday music)
- Between Morocco and France (Learn about the Hanukkah celebrations across the globe)
- France (Listen to Père Noël speak on the Magic of Christmas)
- United Kingdom (Learn about the holiday traditions of the U.K. from Father Christmas)
- Canada (Learn about the Great White North holiday traditions with the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs)
3. Listen to the Voices of Liberty
During the Christmas season at Epcot, the Voices of Liberty trade their patriotic tunes for holiday classics. This is definitely a must do during the festival and you can catch them inside the American Adventure Theatre.
4. Enjoy the Epcot Candlelight Processional
The Candlelight Processional at Epcot brings you along on the incredible Nativity story. Each year a celebrity narrator takes Disney guests through the journey complete with a mass choir and a 50-piece orchestra.
Each evening the choir, that’s shaped like a Christmas tree, transports you magically into that wonderful night in which the Savior was born.
This year’s festival is bringing back fan favorites such as Lisa Ling and Pat Sajak, but there are also some other good celebrities coming to help make this amazing annual holiday experience even more spectacular!
When is the Epcot Candlelight Processional and what are the times?
This holiday event runs nightly from November 26th through December 30th of 2021 with three showtimes per night (5:00, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m.).
Hipster Power Tip: I’ve found the second and third shows tend to be the best. The narrator is usually warmed up and there’s a better opportunity to get the seat of your choice.
2021 Epcot Christmas Schedule for the Candlelight Processional
You can marvel at the Candlelight Processional in the America Gardens Theatre. Here’s who is scheduled to appear:
- 11/26 – 11/28: Auli’i Cravalho
- 11/29 – 12/1: Chita Rivera
- 12/2 – 12/4: Jodi Benson
- 12/5 – 12/7: Alton Fitzgerald White
- 12/8 – 12/10: Bart Millard
- 12/11 – 12/13: Lisa Ling
- 12/14 – 12/16: Andy Garcia
- 12/17 – 12/19: Ana Gasteyer
- 12/20 – 12/22: Courtney B. Vance
- 12/23 – 12/25: Steven Curtis Chapman
- 12/26 – 12/28: Blair Underwood
- 12/29 – 12/30: Pat Sajak
Dining Packages for the EPCOT Candlelight Processional
You can choose to eat at one of the 4 EPCOT restaurants that are offering the Candlelight Processional Dining Packages for both lunch and dinner. Each option includes:
- An appetizer, entrée and dessert or one full buffet (where applicable), along with a non-alcoholic beverage
- One guaranteed seat per person to the Candlelight Processional held on the same day
Locations for the EPCOT Candlelight Processional
- Biergarten Restaurant – Germany Pavilion: Lunch and Dinner: $62.00 (adult) $35.00 (Child 3-9)
- Coral Reef Restaurant – The Living Seas: Lunch and Dinner: $74.00 (adult) $25.00 (Child 3-9)
- The Garden Grill – The Land Pavilion: Lunch and Dinner: $71.00 (adult) $46.00 (Child 3-9)
- Rose & Crown Dining Room – UK Pavilion: Lunch and Dinner: $63.00 (adult) $25.00 (Child 3-9)
5. Watch JOYFUL! A Gospel Celebration of the Season
This group of gospel singers really know how to bring the house down at Epcot. Each year, this amazing group of talent blesses us with some incredible Christmas songs meant to leave you inspired after each show.
Just know that this group of singers are some of the BEST on Disney property PERIOD!
This year you can catch them on the Showcase Plaza Stage as they honor the holiday traditions of Christmas and Kwanzaa. Check your park map on arrival to see what time they will be performing.
Hipster Power Tip: Look for Epcot SCROLLS that tell the story of each country’s holiday tradition around World Showcase. There are 13 SCROLLS for you to find this year.
6. Get a Photo with Santa
No trip to Disney during Christmastime is complete without a photo with ole Saint Nick. Santa Claus will make a visit to EPCOT to say hello to all of you, so be sure to add this to your EPCOT itinerary. You can find him in the American Pavilion.
So, hurry and see him by December 24, 2021 because he will have to prepare for his busy evening.
7. Go on a Scavenger Hunt with Olaf
This is another Disney scavenger hunt for you to participate while visiting EPCOT during Christmastime. Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt takes you on a quest to hunt for all of his holiday favorites all over Epcot World Showcase!
How does the holiday scavenger hunt work at Epcot?
All you have to do is buy your map and stickers from the Creations Shop, Port of Entry or World Traveler at International Gateway.
Once you find all of Olaf’s holiday favorites on the map, you can bring your completed map back to Disney Traders, Creations Shop or World Traveler at International Gateway to redeem your gift until December 31, 2021. The cost for this experience is $9.99 plus tax.
8. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth on the Holiday Cookie Stroll
Just in case you thought your holiday trip at Epcot couldn’t get any better, you now have a sweet way of incorporating dessert hopping into your worldly adventure.
How does the EPCOT Holiday Cookie Stroll work?
All you have to do is buy a cookie from EACH of the five holiday kitchens notated on the Festival Passport. After you have tasted every cookie listed on your itinerary, you return your stamped passport to the Holiday Sweets & Treats kitchen to receive a special cookie.
2021 Epcot Holiday Cookie Scavenger Hunt Locations:
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen: SNICKERS®-Doodle Cookie made with SNICKERS bar pieces
- L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen: Black and White Cookie (plant-based item)
- American Holiday Table: Chocolate Crinkle Cookie made with DOVE® Dark Chocolate
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen: Linzer Cookie
- Holiday Hearth Desserts: Gingerbread Cookie
9. Ride the Holiday Version of Living with the Land
You may not know this, but each year EPCOT places a holiday overlay throughout the Living with the Land attraction.
Your boat will sparkle and gleam with cheer as you see a Florida snowman smiling as you pass him on your festive adventure!
10. Don’t Miss the Gingerbread House
You’ll get to see the recreated the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and The American Adventure building in miniature gingerbread versions. This will be located in EPCOT’s American Adventure Rotunda.
11. Try New Things
It’s easy to stick with the things most familiar to you, but that’s not what the Epcot Festival of the Holidays is all about!
Stop by and listen to stories you’ve never heard or try food you’ve never dreamed about tasting. Since the portions are smaller, it’s a great way to try something at least once (or twice as Andrew Zimmern states).
It was at the Food and Wine Festival that I learned the art of eating escargot and it was delicious! Or maybe it was tasty due to the fact that the dish was smothered in butter and garlic…
Either way it goes, the Epcot Cast Members definitely understand how to ease Guests, like you and me, into exploring new cultural cuisines and practices.
12. Try the Turkey Poutine from the Refreshment Port
Ever since I went to Canada, I fell in love with Poutine. After all, it combines my love of fries with all things hearty such as deep-flavored cheeses and comforting gravy just to name a few.
At the Refreshment Port near Canada in Epcot, you can expect to see seasonal Poutines come and go through out the year.
But Christmastime is when we get one of the best offerings for the year which is the Turkey Poutine. It comes with French fries with turkey gravy, cranberry relish and crispy onions.
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13. Grab Fireworks Spot Early and Watch the NEW Harmonious Show
After you have indulged in all the seasonal fun at Epcot, it’s time to find your perfect spot for the fireworks show. One of my favorite locations is the quiet area between Germany and the African-inspired Refreshment Post underneath the trees. However, the perfect spot is over the bridge in the Italy Pavilion.
But I recommend getting a reservation closer to the start of the show at Spice Road Table with a window seat. This is the ultimate way to top your day off at Epcot in the most epic way!
WATCH the full show of Harmonious at Epcot here!
14. Have Fun at the Epcot Festival of the Holidays!
You’re really going to have a great time, so try not to stress too much if you find yourself spending too much time at the kitchens or listening to the storytellers.
There’s always something going on in the park that will allow you to have the best time ever!
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13 Easy Tips for Visiting Epcot Festival of the Holidays (Christmas at Epcot)
Now that we have the basic information out-of-the-way, I take it as my honor to give you the best tips to maximize your time and money while doing the Epcot Holidays Around the World Festival!
1. Start Early
Coming early to experience the holidays around the world will give you a chance to pace yourself.
You will be able to enjoy not only the amazing food that’s being offered, but you’ll also get to experience the attractions and seasonal activities in both Future World and World Showcase.
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2. Map Out Your Day
This is another classic tip for any avid Disney traveler. Mapping out your day will save you the headache of missing out on any of your must do items, especially if you’re only able to visit once.
This tip is very important, because it will help guide you on:
- Where to find each kitchen (food booth at Epcot)
- What time the holiday activities will start
- Information regarding speakers, performers, and other special Disney guests
Hipster Power Tip: Do the popular attractions in Future World first such as Soarin Around the World and Test track in the first part of the day, then head over to World Showcase to enjoy the other holiday treats.
3. Get a Festival Passport
Festival Passports are free and available all over Epcot. The passport is a booklet that allows you to personalize it with your name, country, date issued, and date of completion.
It also includes the locations of the cookie trail, detailed food booth dishes, merchandise options, and Epcot Processional information.
Stickers are also included for you to mark off which booth you’ve visited.
4. Go Over the Epcot Festival of the Holidays Menu Before Your Visit
Since you’ll have a new way of celebrating the holidays at Disney World, you should not only have a game plan of what to do, you’ll want to map out all your must try food at Epcot.
You can review the menu here.
5. Go During the Weekdays
For the best time I recommend attending the festival during the weekdays (Monday through Thursday). These days tend to be the least crowded days at Epcot.
This will help you be able to make the most of your time at the festival.
How crowded is Epcot during Thanksgiving and Christmas?
Any major holiday should be avoided at the Disney parks. However, the week of Thanksgiving and the last two weeks of December tend to be the busiest times of the year to visit Walt Disney World.
Read Next: How to Beat the Crowds at Disney World here.
6. Plan to Visit Multiple Times
The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is like no other Yuletide festival out there. That’s why I recommend visit on multiple occasions throughout the season.
You will need a trip to try all the seasonal treats, a trip for participating in each holiday activity, and a trip to retry your favorites.
7. Buy a Disney Wristlet Gift Card
Tasting the many samples without a set budget can turn a fun trip into one of financial regret…
…trust me, I’ve made this mistake a few times.
So, be sure to put buying a Disney wristlet gift card at the top of your priority list. It will prevent unnecessary swiping of your bank card which may lead to a not so magical time at Disney’s Epcot.
8. Remember that the Kitchens Close Before the Park Does
Just to make sure you’re not surprised on your trip; the Holiday Kitchens do close at 9 p.m. which is earlier than the closing time of the park on some nights.
So, be sure to plan out your day with that time in mind that way you don’t miss any of your high priority treats on your list.
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9. Budget for Your Day
Believe it or not, $3 here or $5 there adds up quickly. I recommend budgeting $45-$55 for each person in your party.
And that’s just for food!
Beer and wine samples are poured at about 3 ounces for wine and 6 ounces for beer or cocktails. On average, adult beverage samples usually cost between $3-$9 with cocktails around $10.50.
10. Split the Cost
Going with a friend or two or three lowers your budget and makes the event memorable. You can share multiple dishes without leaving Epcot broke.
Hipster Power Tip: Share a beer or wine flight with a friend. Each flight contains 3 to 4 samples.
11. Share Your Table with Others
It’s Epcot and it’s your home, so why not make new friends by sharing your table. On busy festival days, finding a table can be hard.
If your group is small and you have an extra spot, why not invite someone over who you see searching the area for a place to enjoy their fabulous dish.
12. Plan for A Cab or Have A Designated Driver in The Group
Previewing the festival’s menu gives you an idea of what delicious treats can be expected. There are lots of drinks (mostly adult inspired) that will hopefully leave you balanced and able to walk out.
Be sure to have a plan for this kind of indulgence, it makes for a safe and fun experience at Epcot.
Hipster Power Tip: Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and taking frequent breaks.
13. Book Your Reservations Early
If you want to have a guaranteed seat to see your favorite celebrity narrator, then I recommend booking an Epcot Candlelight Processional Dining Package.
You’ll avoid the extremely long lines and you’ll get to enjoy a delicious 3-course meal or buffet meal to enhance your day at the park.
You can make your reservations by calling 407/WDW-FEST (407-939-3378) and remember to book quickly to guarantee your spot.
Final Thoughts on Doing Christmas at Epcot
As you can see, there are so many things you can do to have fun at Disney’s Epcot for Christmas. From holiday storytellers to a masterfully prepared global cuisine, there’s something perfect just for you to experience.
Some of my must-do festive adventures that I recommend for you are the JOYFUL! show, the Epcot Candlelight Processional, the Cookie Stroll, and eating your way around the world!
Now that you are ready to conquer Epcot Festival of the Holidays, what are you most excited to enjoy? Is it the food, the Candlelight Processional narrators, or the Storytellers? Let us know down in the comments section below.
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Planning a trip soon? If so, read the Disney Vacation Planning Guide for your next dream trip!
Until next time, Happy Holidays Hipsters!
(Original Post Date: December 22, 2017/Updated November 22, 2021)