Top 10 Tips for the Epcot Festival of Holidays

Top 10 Tips for the Epcot Festival of Holidays

Walt Disney World’s 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. This festival includes holiday storytellers, outdoor food kitchens, the Candlelight Processional, Voice of Liberty singers, and more. If you’re heading to EPCOT for the festive season, here are our top 10 EPCOT Festival of Holidays Tips to make the most of your festival day. 

EPCOT Festival of Holidays Tips

The Festival of Holidays in 2023 includes all the festive fun you could want during your Christmas Vacation at Disney World. From Festival Kitchen featuring holiday foods to performances featuring holiday music, and special ride experiences, there is plenty to be had for Christmas at EPCOT. If you’re looking for everything to do this Christmas, check out the EPCOT Festival of Holidays Guide, for details, costs, menus, activities, and more. Here are our Top 10 Tips for the EPCOT Festival of Holidays. 

Disney Festival of Holidays

Visit the Holiday Storytellers

Everyone has a story. Lucky for us, the holiday storytellers found in the World Showcase are sharing their most important holiday tales to transport you to their native time and place. Ready to share their most precious holiday stories. These performances happen throughout the day, so check the times guide when you arrive. It wouldn’t be the holidays at Epcot if you didn’t set a little time aside to learn about the other cultures and countries this Holiday Season. You can visit Santa in America, La Bafana in Italy, Helga in Germany, and many more. Here are the Days and Times that Holiday Storytellers at the Festival of Holidays perform in each pavilion. 

Las Posadas Celebration – Mexico Pavilion

¡Feliz Navidad! Join the fun and pageantry of Las Posadas with dancers, piñatas and the music of Mariachi Cobre.

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Thursdays
  • 11:05 AM, 12:05 PM, 1:05 PM, 3:05 PM, 4:10 PM and 5:15 PM
  • 25-minute performances

A Mischievous Magical Barn Santa – Norway Pavilion

Celebrate the season with laughter as a mischievous Barn Santa visits Sigrid, an unsuspecting Christmas storyteller.

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Saturdays
  • 11:35 AM, 12:35 PM, 1:35 PM, 2:35PM, 4:35PM, 5:35 PM, 6:35 PM and 7:10 PM
  • 15-minute performances

Chinese Lion Dancer – China Pavilion

Catch a glimpse of this colorful performance that brings good fortune and happiness in the Lunar New Year.

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Saturdays
  • Noon, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM
  • 15-minute performances

La Befana – Italy Pavilion

Come hear the tale of La Befana, the kind-hearted witch who visits sleeping young children on the Eve of the Epiphany.

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Saturdays
  • 11:30 AM, 12:15 PM, 1:00 PM, 2:40 PM, 3:35 PM, 4:20 PM, 5:05 PM and 5:45 PM
  • 15-minute performances

Santa Claus – The Odyssey Pavilion

Get ready for Christmas with Santa Claus now through December 24. Whether you know him as St. Nick, Père Noël or Father Christmas, a visit with jolly Santa Claus brings good cheer to the season.

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Saturdays
  • 11:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:30 PM, 5:00 PM and 6:30 PM
  • 60-minute performances

Daruma Storyteller – Japan Pavilion

Hear the fascinating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year!

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Saturdays
  • 11:20 AM, 12:40 PM, 1:40 PM, 3:20 PM, 4:20 PM, 5:05 PM, 5:50 PM and 6:35 PM
  • 15-minute performances

Hanukkah Storyteller – Between Morocco and France Pavilions

Guests will discover an entertaining celebration of Hanukkah along World Showcase promenade, where a storyteller recounts traveling abroad to explore the diverse music and traditions of Hanukkah around the world. 

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Saturdays
  • 10:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:40 PM, 1:15 PM, 2:45 PM, 3:45 PM, 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM
  • 15-minute performances

Père Noël – France Pavilion

Visit with Père Noël and rediscover the magic of Christmas through the letter of a delightful child.

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Saturdays
  • 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:10 PM, 12:50 PM, 2:15 PM, 3:15 PM, 4:30 PM and 5:15 PM
  • 15-minute performances

Father Christmas – United Kingdom Pavilion

Join Father Christmas as he rings in the season, sharing the traditions of the United Kingdom and good cheer.

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Saturdays
  • 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:40 PM, 1:30 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM
  • 15-minute performances

Canadian Holiday Voyageurs – Canada Pavilion

Explore holiday customs from the various regions of Canada on a musical tour of the Great White North with the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs.

Performance Details:

  • Sundays through Saturdays
  • 11:45 AM, 12:45 PM, 1:45 PM, 3:25 PM, 4:30 PM and 6:35 PM
  • 20-minute performances

Disney Pro Tip: Unless you’re taking pictures and need the daylight, save time in the evening to listen to the Storytellers when crowds are lower. 

Linzer Cookies- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen
Linzer Cookies- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen

Try Holiday Treats at the Festival Kitchens

Holiday foods from around the world? Yes, please. With cookies, cakes, candies, and the coziest holiday feasts, the food is a must-do. Each Holiday Kitchen is themed to its respective country and you’re sure to find something to try in each country. In America you’ll get a Christmas dinner, in Italy you’ll get fruitcakes, and there’s a whole kitchen booth just for cookies. Check out the Festival of Holidays Menus for a lineup of Epcot Festival of Holidays treats. 

Disney Pro Tip:  Skip the quick service lunch on the day or days you’re visiting the festival. With so many foods to try, you can build a lunch with foods from the holiday kitchens and save some money too. 

Play Olaf’s Tradition Expedition Game

Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition is one of our favorite festival games. This scavenger hunt game involves finding our favorite snowman, hiding across the World Showcase countries. Each figurine denotes Olaf and an element from that country’s holiday tradition. It’s a great way to learn about other cultures and earn your way toward a festive prize too. Taking the time away from the food allows you to explore each country, see the decorations, and even chat with cast members to get a hint about where Olaf may be hiding.

Disney Pro Tip: You can grab your prize and your scavenger hunt game board at the same time. That way you won’t have to fight the busy nighttime crowds in the gift shops just to pick up the prize later.

Candlelight Processional Symphony Nativity Reading

See the Candlelight Processional

One of the best Epcot Festival of Holidays Tips we can offer is that you should attend the Candlelight Processional. The Candlelight Processional completely lives up to the hype and deserves 40 minutes of your time. A retelling of the Nativity Story, this reading is told by a celebrity speaker and accompanied by a full orchestra and chorus. Held at the America Gardens Theatre, this performance is given a couple of times a night, so check the times’ guide. You can also grab a Disney Candlelight Processional Dining Package for dinner and a guaranteed seat at the performance.  

Disney Pro Tip: We suggest attending the last performance of the day. Traditionally less crowded, the lines are smaller, and you can be seated closer to the stage. Plus the darkness of the evening really makes the lights inside the theater glow. 

Chip and Dales Ceramic Cookie Jar 2020 Cookie Stroll Festival of Holidays

Do the Cookie Stroll Challenge

Like cookies? Got Milk? Well, you can get both at the Cookie Stroll at Epcot. Visit all 5 official Cookie Stroll locations, collect a stamp in your Cookie Stroll passport at each, and head to the final stop for your free cookie. 

  • Nochebuena Cocina: Alfajores – Vanilla Shortbread Cookie with Dulce de Leche and Coconut
  • Yukon Holiday Kitchen: SNICKERS®-Doodle Cookie made with SNICKERS® Bar pieces
  • L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen: Black and White Cookie (plant-based)
  • American Holiday Table: Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
  • Bavaria Holiday Kitchen: Linzer Cookie
  • Holiday Hearth Desserts: Gingerbread Cookie
  • Sunshine Seasons: M&M’s® Sugar Cookie
  • Connections Café: Sugar Cookie

Disney Pro Tip: The 5 cookies you’re on a mission to find add up to about 10 dollars, and really is more about the experience than the treats themselves. Our suggestion? Dedicate one family member to be the collector of the cookies so you can “complete the challenge” and get your prize. And instead, spend your cookie money on the more extravagant treats at each holiday kitchen. 

Visit Living with the Land Merry and Bright Nights

Living with the Land gets all dressed up for the holidays and features twinkle lights in the evening. One of the rides at Epcot with historically lower waits, this boat ride is easy for both kids and adults and a perfect way to get in and out of the crowds.

Disney Pro Tip:  Make the most of visiting the Land building and plan to stop at Sunshine Seasons for dinner before or after your ride. And if it’s late enough you may find the line for Soarin’ short too. 

American Adventure at EPCOT Christmas Disney World

See the Gingerbread Capital City Displays

Check out the America Pavilion to see the Washington D.C. Capitol Building and Washington Monument gingerbread display. And if you check the times’ guide you may just also hear the seasonal tunes of the Voices of Liberty. We love this pavilion during the holidays for that old-fashioned Christmas feeling and it’s definitely worth a visit.

Disney Pro Tip:  Make America the place you stop to grab your Christmas Dinner. Complete with turkey, stuffing, and pecan pie, the American Holiday Table booth pulls out all the stops for festive holiday foods. 

Meet Belle in her Enchanted Christmas Dress

This is the only time of year you can head to France to meet Belle in her classic red velvet gown getting ready for the holidays. the Disney Princesses love it when you dress to match too. So whether you’re Disney bounding or dressing your little one in a similar gown, make the most of your visit with Belle.

Disney Pro Tip: In order to be near France at the opening time we recommend you grab breakfast at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion. This will help you be close to the front of the Belle line at rope drop. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind Holiday Remix

If you’re into thrill rides, you can get your seasonal fix at the Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind ride. With new music for the holiday season, you’re sure to feel festive! The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Song is “Run Rocket Run”, a twist on the song, Run Rudolph Run. As part of the holiday song mashup, you can also hear Deck the Halls and Jingle Bells melodies as part of the soundtrack. There is only ONE song featured in the Holiday Remix so that all riders get the festive feeling. Be sure to grab a Virtual Queue Boarding Pass for this ride, as they are currently required. 

Disney Pro Tip: If you’re staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, you can get an additional Virtual Queue Boarding Pass drop time at 6:00pm for the Extended Evening Hours offered to those guests. 

international festival of holidays at disney

Dress for the Florida Weather

You may not believe it but Florida in the winter gets chilly at night. So bring a lap blanket or a hoodie if you plan to stay for the evening shows. And plan for a cup of hot cocoa or two.

Disney Pro Tip: Use the gift shops to get in out of the cold. This will give you time to browse the holiday merchandise and warm up before your next holiday storyteller or show. 

Be Prepared for Disney Holiday Crowds

Crowds at Walt Disney World during the holidays are crazy! Starting the week of Thanksgiving guests can plan to see long lines, frustrated families, and delayed transportation. You can take advantage of the free Disney transportation to get you anywhere, but don’t plan for it to be “on time”.  That said, build-in time away from the parks during the busiest afternoon times. Head to the Disney Boardwalk just outside EPCOT’s International Gateway, or grab a meal at Disney Resort for Christmas. 

Disney Pro Tip: If you’ve booked anything that requires you to be somewhere at a certain time, splurge on paid transportation with an Uber or Lyft. It is more dependable than the complimentary Disney transportation and will give you peace of mind you can get there on time.

Top 10 Tips for EPCOT Festival of Holidays

The Festival of Holidays offers so many holiday things to do and so many memories, you and your family are sure to want to make this a holiday tradition. If visiting Walt Disney World specifically for the festival consider staying at the Boardwalk Inn or The Beach Club. Both have walking access to the Epcot International Gateway Entrance and offer a great way to make the most of the festival by avoiding transportation chaos and being able to take breaks throughout the day at leisure. Hopefully, these EPCOT Festival of Holidays Tips can help you maximize your festival time this year. From all of us to all of you we hope you have the very best holiday at Epcot this year. 

EPCOT International Festival of Holidays Top 10 Tips #polkadotpixies


Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

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.

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