If we lived in Florida, the Walt Disney World Festival of Holidays at Epcot would definitely be a holiday tradition for us. With holiday kitchens, holiday stories across the World Showcase, decorations, merchandise and the Candlelight Processional, there truly is something for everyone. If you haven’t gotten a chance to attend this holiday festival at Walt Disney World, let us give you the details. Here’s our Beginner’s Guide to the International Festival of Holidays at Disney.
Disney’s Festival of Holidays 2020 begins November 27, 2020 and runs to December 30th.
Christmas at Walt Disney World EPCOT
Ok, so let us just share that Christmas at Walt Disney World is amazing. There truly is nothing else like it! When we visited Disney during the holidays for the first time last year we we floored by how extra-magical everything was. Add the fact that we are holiday crazy in general and you can just imagine how excited we were the whole trip.
Of course you’ll have to deal with the crowds, and probably have a list of things you need to do, but it’s so important to make sure that you make time for Epcot during the holidays. The festival truly does showcase the meaning of Christmas in all it’s glory and you will leave feeling uplifted, and hopeful and ready for the New Year.
Festival of Holidays Activities
The International Festival of Holidays takes place in the Epcot World Showcase. Unlike the other Christmas party over at Magic Kingdom, you don’t need an extra ticket to enjoy the festival. It’s included with your Epcot admission. The Festival of Holidays includes the following:
- Holiday Stories from each culture are shared in each World Showcase country.
- Holiday Kitchens, or food booths, that are added to the showcase featuring holiday foods from each country.
- Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt Game
- The Candlelight Processional with a celebrity reader Cancelled 2020
- Joyful! A Celebration of the Season musicians
- Voices of Liberty
- Las Posadas with Mariachi Cobre
- JAMMitors Percussion Players
- Festival of Holidays Cookie Stroll
- Special Festival of Holidays Merchandise
- Holiday Promenades
Holiday Storytellers in the World Showcase
The storytellers at the World Showcase are, in classic Disney fashion, perfectly themed characters that truly transport you to their time and place to share the most meaningful holiday stories. These performances happen through the day, so check the times guide when you arrive if you’re hopeful to see a certain storyteller.
We loved loved loved La Befana in Italy, and wished we would have had more time to visit every country’s storytellers. Be sure to build in the time where you can stroll through the showcase and listen to these stories, it really does make the season feel extra special.
Where are the Holiday Storytellers in World Showcase?
Each country gets a storyteller, so be sure to check them out. If you’re toting kids, this experience is so educational we think it could definitely count as school.
America | Santa Claus
While you can find the American Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus in the American Adventure pavilion, complete with luxurious red velvet thrones, there are so many other holiday icons to see! If visiting America first to get your Santa fix, you can also hear Kwanzaa and Hanukkah stories presented throughout the day.
Canada | Canadian Holiday Voyageurs
Music and classic Christmas feelings of the north show up in Canada.
China | Chinese Lion Dancers
And in China, there are dragon dancers preparing for the Chinese New Year.
France | Visit with Père Noël
France is also a must see storyteller with Pere Noel telling the tale of how they leave out shoes.
Germany | Helga and the Nutcracker
When visiting Germany, you can meet Helga who relays the tale of The Nutcracker.
Italy | La Befana
In Italy, you can visit with La Befana and she recaps her tale of the Epiphany.
Japan | Daruma Storyteller
In Japan you can see how they experience Japanese New Year, O-Shogatsu, and listen as they tell the story of this tradition complete with mochi, bell ringing and postcards.
Mexico | Las Posadas Celebration
A festive celebration for the holidays with lots of music, dancing and stories.
Morocco | Festive Bands
You can listen to the seasonal music in Morocco and head to the Hanukkah Storyteller found between Morocco and France for more stories of the season.
Norway | The Mischievous Barn Santa visits Sigrid
Sigrid and the Barn Santa share humor and stories throughout the day in Norway.
United Kingdom | Father Christmas
The most classic story of how Christmas arrives in England with Father Christmas. Another must see Storyteller.
Holiday Kitchens at Festival of Holidays
Ahhhh, holiday food. They don’t call this the most wonderful time of year for nothing. And we have definitely become addicted to all of Disney’s foodie events.
If you haven’t guessed, much like the storytellers, each Holiday Kitchen is themed to its respective country. In America you’ll get a Christmas dinner, in Italy you’ll get fruitcake, and there’s a whole kitchen booth just for cookies. Last year there were 15 Holiday Kitchens at the festival, so plenty of holidays foods to try! Just like with the Food and Wine festival, you’ll get a little passport book with all the menus and can find lists of food for the Festival of Holidays online beforehand.
What Holiday Kitchens are at the Festival of Holidays?
We like having a plan of attack for any foodie festival at Epcot, so we try to grab foods as we make our way around the World Showcase. And sometimes, it takes two days to fit it all in. Sometimes you can snatch the Walt Disney World Free Dining promo for this time of year, so the festival food can also be a great way to use snack credits. Be sure to grab the Festival of Holidays Menus for all the kitchens this year!
- American Holiday Table
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen
- Citrus Blossom *NEW 2020*
- Festival Favorites *NEW 2020*
- Holiday Hearth *NEW 2020*
- Holiday Sweets and Treats
- Le Marche De Noel Holiday Kitchen
- Mele Kalikimaka *NEW 2020*
- Posadas Holiday Kitchen
- Sapphire Holiday Kitchen
- Shanghai Holiday Kitchen
- Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen
- Tuscany Holiday Kitchen
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen
Cookie Stroll at Epcot Festival of Holidays
New last year the Festival of Holidays Cookie Stroll offers you the opportunity to take on a cookie eating challenge. You visit all 5 official cookie stroll locations, collect a stamp in your passport at each and head to the Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen to receive a FREE Santa Mickey Sugar Cookie.
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen at the Germany Pavilion
- American Holiday Table at the America Pavilion
Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen at the Canada Pavilion
Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie
- Festival Favorites at the World Showplace.
- L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen between the Morocco and France Pavilions
Visit all 5 official cookie stroll locations, collect a stamp in your passport at each and head to the Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen to receive a FREE Santa Mickey Sugar Cookie. You can also grab an adorable Holiday Chip and Dale Cookie Jar for the 2020 Festival of Holidays to collect your cookies in as you go.
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition
For this game, players can buy a map ( with stickers), usually about 8 dollars, from the gift shop or kiosk to get started. With your map in tow you can search for everything Olaf has gathered and lost along the way. Throughout the World Showcase! They are sometimes hard to find. We’ve had to ask for clues before, so be on the lookout! Once found, you can just add the sticker to the map. When the map is filled in you can return it to the gift shop for a prize. Disney has been changing up their prizes lately, but usually you get a chip and dale inspired pin. We’ve also seen them offer key chains, patches and cups for the other games, so it could be different each year.
Know that you’ve already paid for the prize technically with the purchase of the map, so even if you don’t find all the Olaf clues you can still collect your prize at the end. And the map is a a “free” Disney Souvenir, so treat it well!
Festival of Holidays Entertainment
The Epcot evening show, Epcot Forever is a new addition to the Festival of Holidays replacing Illuminations Peace on Earth. We love the Italy pavilion as a viewing location since it’s pretty central and not as crowded as Japan. In addition to the show on the lake you also get the Candlelight Processional.
The Candlelight Processional
UPDATE 2020: The Candlelight Processional is cancelled for 2020 due to the pandemic.
Ok, so we were absolutely blown away by the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. Blown. Away. The Candlelight Processional is the reading of the Nativity story, by a celebrity reader, but it’s so much more! There are choirs, and an orchestra, and a light show. You really do have to be in the theater, sitting down, to experience how amazing everything feels and sounds. They even have an interpreter for the deaf community. The whole experience is so emotionally overwhelming, when you’re there you just want everyone you love in your life to be there with you. It really is worth it. We recommend celebrity reader, Warwick Davis, if you can get him. 🙂
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season | World Showplace
A celebration of music to bring the songs of Christmas and Kwanzaa to Disney includes Gospel, R&B and holiday songs performed by the ‘Joyful!’ vocal ensemble.
Voices of Liberty – Voices of the Season | American Gardens Theatre
A cappella holiday music sets the tone for the season at the America pavilion. Dressed as Dicken’s Carolers this is a great way to get into the classic feeling of Christmas.
Las Posadas with Mariachi Cobre | American Gardens Theatre
Grab a seat at American Gardens theater to watch the colorful dancers and the band, Las Posadas, celebrating Mexican Christmas traditions to kick off the season.
JAMMitors | Canada Pavilion
Hang out to see the percussion players with a whole new set of holiday tunes perfect for the Mill Stage in Canada!