Every year you can find a live reading of the Christmas Nativity Story at Epcot. As part of the International Festival of Holidays at Walt Disney World, this holiday tradition features a full chorus, a celebrity speaker, and an orchestra. Complete with festive lights, crisp evening air, and even a dining package option. The Candlelight Processional is a must-do holiday event at Walt Disney World. But with celebrity speakers, some evenings can get crowded, and the lines long. Here are our Top 5 Tips for the Candlelight Processional at the Festival of Holidays.
When is the EPCOT International Festival of Holidays?
Disney’s EPCOT International Festival of Holidays runs from November 24- December 30, 2023, featuring outdoor kitchens, the Candlelight Processional, Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition and more. Visiting for Christmas at EPCOT is always a treat. Combining all our favorite cultural traditions and amazing holiday treats EPCOT brings together food and fun throughout all four neighborhoods.
When is the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT?
The Candlelight Processional is offered nightly throughout the Festival of Holidays at 5:15 pm, 7:00 pm, and 8:30 pm. Presented at the American Gardens Theatre in the America Pavilion.
- Location: America Gardens Theatre at EPCOT
- Dates: November 24 to December 30, 2023
- Showtimes: 5:15 PM, 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM
How Long is the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT?
The Candlelight Processional at EPCOT is usually about one hour long and includes a reading of the Nativity Story by a celebrity speaker, accompanied by a choir and full orchestra. There are three showtimes for the Candlelight Processional each day throughout the Festival of Holidays.
Choose Your Showtime Wisely
The Candlelight Processional is offered at 5:15 pm, 7:00 pm, and 8:30 pm at the American Gardens Theatre, in the America Pavilion of the World Showcase. If hoping to see a popular celebrity speaker, plan to be in line a few hours ahead of your time. Personally, we love the latest showtime at 8:30 p.m. for the lowest crowds and late-night mood. Otherwise, plan to arrive mid-afternoon, as the most popular celebrities will draw a crowd. The 5:15 showing tends to be quite popular, but we prefer it to be a little darker since it really sets the mood and makes the stage pop.
Prepare for the Show
We love making an event out of the Candlelight Processional. And if you’re going later in the season, or even just catching the latest show, remember that Florida does get a little colder at night. Since American Gardens Theatre is outside, it’s best to plan to wear an extra layer, have a small blanket, or grab cocoa as you settle in to listen to the story and music.
Pick Your Celebrity
If you have chosen a popular celebrity speaker, like Neil Patrick Harris, you may spend your day waiting in line! Lines for the more popular celebrities often start hours ahead of time. Luckily with three showtimes, each line just overflows into the next, but using our Epcot day waiting in line is not our idea of a good time. The best tip to avoid this is to either pick a less popular speaker or grab the dining package for reserved seating. We recently saw Warwick Davis, mostly by accident, at the latest show without any waiting in line. As one of our favorite actors, it was amazing to see Warwick Davis read this story. Because we’ve been fans of Warwick Davis since Willow, and Star Wars and Harry Potter, we were thrilled to see him in person. He did a phenomenal job.
New Celebrity Narrators
This retelling of the Nativity Story takes place at the America Garden’s Theater throughout the festival and features new celebrity speakers throughout the festival. Check out the lineup of celebrity readers for Disney’s Candlelight Processional in 2023.
- Chrissy Metz (NEW): Nov. 24-25
- Luis Fonsi (NEW): Nov. 26-27
- Ann-Margret (NEW): Nov. 28-29
- Simu Liu: Nov. 30-Dec. 2
- John Stamos: Dec. 3-5
- Neil Patrick Harris: Dec. 6-8
- Marlee Matlin: Dec. 9-11
- Brendan Fraser (NEW): Dec. 12-14
- Eva Longoria (NEW): Dec. 15-16
- Joey McIntyre (NEW): Dec. 17-18
- Sterling K. Brown (NEW): Dec. 19-20
- Jordan Fisher (NEW): Dec. 21-23
- Steven Curtis Chapman: Dec. 24-26
- Audra McDonald (NEW): Dec. 27-28
- Lisa Ling: Dec. 29-30
Put down the Camera
We are as guilty as anyone for wanting to capture every single moment of the event on film. It’s so amazing, so emotional, and so spectacular that we just want to share it with everyone we know. But this event really is about being absorbed in the experience of this magical story that signifies the holiday season. Grab a picture or two, and let yourself enjoy it in person, not through the lens. You can always share one of many Candlelight Processional videos found on YouTube later.
Book the Candlelight Processional Dining Package for the Best Seats
A Candlelight Processional Dining Package is available for lunch, or dinner at select restaurants across Epcot. The benefit of this package is that it gets you reserved seating at the Candlelight Processional and can make the most of your time at Epcot during the Festival of Holidays. With a range of pricing for all three meals check out the dining package page for details. Candlelight Processional Dining Packages are available to be booked in late October. And if you’re unable to snag a coveted Candlelight Processional dining package, you can try your luck at one of the same-day packages that can be found at Regal Eagle Smokehouse. Plan to get in line for these at the respective restaurants 30-45 minutes before the restaurant opens.
Is the Candlelight Processional Worth it?
As a FREE event at Walt Disney World for Christmas, we definitely say yes. If you’re wondering if you should put aside an hour of time for this event, know that you won’t be disappointed. Regardless of which celebrity is reading this is a beautiful show, filled with lights and color, and beautiful holiday music to accompany the performance. We aren’t located in Florida, but if we were we would attend every year, as it’s a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season, with a story worth re-hearing. We hope this post helps you make the most of your time at the Candlelight Processional!
Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.