Throughout the year, there are four festivals that take place at Epcot Center at Walt Disney World. The final festival of the year is the Festival of the Holidays. Taking place from the day after Thanksgiving until December 30th, it’s the perfect festival to get you in the holiday spirit.
As you can imagine Disney definitely goes all out with their holiday decorations and Epcot is no exception. While the Magic Kingdom starts getting all decked out for the holidays at the stroke of midnight on Halloween, Epcot waits until the holiday season officially begins later in November.
As you walk in, you will notice the festival displays both in front and in back of Spaceship Earth. They change from year to year and feature some of you favorite Disney characters in winter and holiday scenes.
Even the rides get into the holiday spirit. When you ride Living with the Land you are treated to the Glimmering Greenhouses Holiday overlay. While this overlay truly shines at night (pun intended) with the lights throughout, it’s also beautiful to see during the day as well. The holiday overlay features lights, holiday displays, snowmen and wreathes made out of produce. There are even signs that note some of the items grown in these greenhouses that are used in some of the food that you can purchase at the festival kitchens (more on these later).
Some of the most impressive decorations though are located within the countries of the World Showcase. They really showcase the different countries and how they decorate for the holidays.
Holiday Traditions Around the World
While you check out the different holiday decorations around the World Showcase, make sure to also learn about the holiday traditions of each country.
Throughout the day, they have scheduled performances by holiday representatives from each country. Learn about the holiday traditions from such people as Father Christmas in the United Kingdom and from La Befana in Italy.
This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the festival. Like most people who love travel, I very much enjoy learning about different cultures and learning how they celebrate the holidays differently than we do here in the US is so interesting to me. It’s a great learning experience for children and adults alike.
The holiday traditions around the world showcase are not just about Christmas. There is also a section outside of Morocco where the story of Hanukkah is told. They also have a Menorah that they light each night of Hanukkah.
Holiday Festival Kitchens
It just would not be a festival at Epcot without festival kitchens! The Festival of the Holidays is no different. You can eat and drink your way around the world experiencing holiday eats and sips from the different countries. While there are not as many festival kitchens as there are at the Food and Wine Festival, there are still many to choose from. Being that it’s holiday food, there are plenty of warm winter foods to choose from like the cheese fondue and turkey poutine below. The holidays definitely aren’t known as a time for healthy eating, but the food is just so good, it’s worth the extra calories.
The drinks are holiday themed as well. From warm drinks like hot cocoa (with or without alcohol) to dark beers like stouts and porters. Like many of the other festivals at Epcot, France also has a delicious martini available for the Festival of the Holidays, the Frozen Hot Chocolate Martini. It was definitely a festival favorite and a must try especially for chocolate lovers. My favorite drink at the festival is the Peppermint Chocolate Stout by Florida’s Playalinda Brewing Company. If you are a big mint and chocolate fan like me, I highly recommend trying it.
Holiday Cookie Stroll
No matter what country you are celebrating the holidays in, chances are that desserts are a big part of the celebration. There are many different treats to buy at the holiday festival kitchens including a cookie stroll.
To participate in the holiday cookie stroll, pick up a festival passport. On the last page of the passport are a list of 8 cookies that are available for purchase at the festival kitchens throughout the park.
Purchase 5 of the 8 cookies and have the cast member stamp the inside of the back cover with each purchase. It’s a lot of cookies and they are pretty large. I recommend sharing them with people you are traveling with, purchasing them over multiple days if you are in the park for more than one day or bring ziploc bags so you can bring some home with you. Cookies make for a great breakfast during the holiday season, especially while traveling!
The cookies are delicious, I purchased the Linzer Cookie, Black and White Cookie, Gingerbread Cookie, Jingle Sugar Cookie (not pictured, apparently I was in a rush to eat this one!) and the Snickers Doodle Cookie.
My favorites were the Linzer Cookie and the Snickers Doodle Cookie.
When you have purchased all 5 cookies, bring your stamped festival passport to the Holiday Sweets and Treats festival kitchen to get your festival treat for completing the cookie stroll. In 2022, the treat was a Festival of the Holidays decorated sugar cookie and a Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Pin. Thankfully this cookie is wrapped, making it easy to take with you and enjoy later.
The star of the show at the Festival of the Holidays is definitely the Candlelight Processional. Three times each night, the America Gardens Theatre comes alive with holiday music and the story of Christmas.
Alongside a 50 piece orchestra, celebrity narrators such as Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg, Josh Gad and Marie Osmond, read the story of Christmas interspersed with songs sung by a choir made up of Disney’s own Voices of Liberty, cast members and local high school students. The choir enters the theatre singing by candlelight. It’s quite the moving experience to see.
The three shows are quite popular with people lining up hours ahead of time. To be guaranteed a seat without having to stand in line for hours, you can reserve a candlelight processional dining package, which will give you a ticket for guaranteed seating with your lunch or dinner but act fast these sell out quickly after they go on sale 60 days ahead. Being that the theater is outside, you can still hear the performance from outside the theater if you are unable to get a seat.
I highly recommend checking out the Festival of the Holidays specifically to see the Candlelight Processional, it’s that good! For a taste of it, check out the video below:
Visiting Epcot during the Festival of the Holidays is a great way to get in the holiday spirit. It’s just one of the many holiday experiences you can have at Walt Disney World during the holiday season. Check out my post on the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll and the Gingerbread Houses at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels to learn about some of the other holiday experiences at Walt Disney World.
As mentioned this is the final festival of the year at Epcot, make sure to check out all four of them! The year starts with the Festival of the Arts in January and February. During the spring months, Epcot is in full bloom with the Flower and Garden Festival. And then in the fall, Epcot becomes a foodie paradise with the Food and Wine Festival.
Need help planning your trip to Walt Disney World to experience any of these festivals, contact Beyond The Miles Travel for my expert help in Disney travel planning.
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