Epcot is the quintessential park for festivals. It wasn’t always that way, but over the last ten years or so, festivals have emerged as the best way to enjoy Epcot in its entirety. Lucky for you, I have visited almost all of the festivals, and I’ve got complete guides on the Food & Wine Festival, Flower & Garden Festival, and now I’m going to share exactly what is Epcot Festival of the Holidays.
What is Epcot Festival of the Holidays? A Complete Guide
First of all, what is Epcot Festival of the Holidays? Is it just like the other festivals at Epcot? Well, sort of. The focus for this festival is, obviously, the holidays. Specifically, the focus is on holiday traditions of the eleven World Showcase nations. What exactly does that mean? It means a whole lot of fun for you and your family, and most of it is included in your Epcot park admission!
Festival of the Holidays Kitchens
The number one thought on everyone’s mind when they visit Epcot is (usually), “What’s good to eat at the festival?” While International Festival of the Holidays is not nearly as vast and expansive as the Food & Wine Festival, it does still have some great offerings. Don’t forget to start your journey around the World Showcase by picking up a festival passport. The passport tells you what is being served in every kitchen, what activities are available, and all the special entertainment options.
Here’s what you need to know about the Holiday Kitchens:
- Holiday Kitchens are open daily from November 29 to December 30 beginning at noon and closing at 8pm.
- Food and beverage purchases are separate from park admission.
- Some kitchen offerings are limited, and the menus are subject to change at any time.
So what kinds of foods are available? I was very surprised at the variety of offerings, especially the amount of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options. I am none of those things, but it is nice to know that if you have an allergy or food preference, Epcot’s got you covered! One of my favorite items from the festival was the chocolate pecan tart with whipped cream and whisky caramel sauce from the American Pavilion. I paired it with the Cocoa Candy Cane drink-milk chocolate gourmet hot cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps. Christmas heaven.
Returning for 2019-The Cookie Stroll
Additionally, one of my favorite experiences at the festival was the Cookie Stroll. As you visit the festival kitchens in the Showcase Plaza, Germany, America, Canada, and between the Morocco and France pavilions, purchase one of five cookies and get your passport stamped. Once you have completed the five stamps, head back to the Showcase Plaza for a complimentary completer cookie. I did not have a bad cookie in the bunch. My favorite was the peppermint sugar cookie in Germany!
Festival of the Holidays Candlelight Processional
Next, you must, must take time to sit, see, and listen to the wonderful Candlelight Processional. Beginning nightly at 5pm, 6:45pm, and 8:15pm, the Candlelight Processional shares the Biblical Christmas Story through the voice of a celebrity narrator and the beautiful music of a massed choir and a magnificent fifty piece orchestra. It truly is a moving way to start the holiday season. If you want to guarantee a seat at the performance in the American Pavilion, dining package reservations can be made ahead of time for an extra cost. Here are this year’s narrators:
- November 29-December 1: Ming-Na Wen
- December 2-5: Neil Patrick Harris
- December 6-7: Whoopi Goldberg
- December 8-10: Isabella Rossellini
- December 11-12: Chita Rivera
- December 13-15: Gary Sinise
- December 16-18: Pat Sajak
- December 19-21: Warwick Davis
- December 21-23: Auli’i Cravalho
- December 22-24: Steven Curtis Chapman
- December 25-26: Edward James Olmos
- December 27-28: Marlee Matlin
- December 29-30: Lisa Ling
Throughout the park, there are various forms of holiday entertainment. On the Future World Fountain Stage, ‘Joyful,’ a Gospel vocal ensemble, shares the joy of the holidays through a capella singing.
In France, enjoy meeting Pere Noel and rediscover the magic of Christmas through the letter of a child.
Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus daily outside the American Pavilion.
Finally, no day at Epcot would be complete without a viewing of fireworks show Epcot Forever.
Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree
Finally, don’t forget about the kids! We loved playing Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak at the Food & Wine festival, so of course we couldn’t pass up a little hunt with Chip and Dale. Grab a map and hunt for Chip and Dale in each World Showcase Pavilion as you eat your way around the world. Unlike other festivals, these guys were really tough to find. In fact, go ahead and ask a Cast Member in each pavilion for help (you’ll need it, trust me).
A little bonus fun we found right outside of Mouse Gears and Test Track was the Family Play Zone. We first experienced a festival play zone when my girls were very small at the Flower & Garden festival. The theme changes based on whatever new movie Disney is trying to promote, but the play structures stay the same,
I hope you found my guide to Epcot Festival of the Holidays helpful! Check out my YouTube video below for more in depth information about the new Cookie Stroll and what we liked and didn’t like about Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree. Happy Holidays!