Epcot is the quintessential park for festivals. It wasn’t always that way, but over the last ten years, festivals have emerged as the best way to enjoy Epcot.
Lucky for you, I have visited all the festivals and have complete guides on the Food & Wine Festival, Flower & Garden Festival, and Festival of the Arts. Now I’m going to share precisely what you can expect at Epcot Festival of the Holidays.
What is the Epcot Festival of the Holidays? A Complete Guide
First of all, what is the Epcot Festival of the Holidays? Is it just like the other festivals at Epcot? Well, sort of. The focus of this festival is, obviously, the holidays.
Specifically, the focus is on the holiday traditions of the eleven World Showcase nations. What exactly does that mean? It is a lot of fun for you and your family, most of which is included in your Epcot park admission!
Festival of the Holidays Kitchens
The first thought on everyone’s mind when they visit Epcot is (usually), “What’s good to eat at the festival?” While the International Festival of the Holidays is not nearly as vast and expansive as the Food & Wine Festival, it still has 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 served in every kitchen, what activities are available, and all the unique entertainment options.
Here’s what you need to know about the Holiday Kitchens:
- Holiday Kitchens are open daily from November 26 to December 30 from park opening to park close.
- 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 2021-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. The only cookie I wasn’t personally a fan of was the Linzer cookie in Germany.
Festival of the Holidays Candlelight Processional
Next, you must sit, see, and listen to the beautiful Candlelight Processional. 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:
- Auli’i Cravalho-November 26 through November 28
- Chita Rivera-November 29 through December 1
- Jodi Benson-December 2 through December 4
- Alton Fitzgerald White-December 5 through December 7
- Bart Millard-December 8 through December 10
- Lisa Ling-December 11 through December 13
- Andy Garcia-December 14 through December 16
- Ana Gasteyer-December 17 through December 19
- Courtney B. Vance-December 20 through December 22
- Steven Curtis Chapman-December 23 through December 25
- Blair Underwood-December 26 through December 28
- Pat Sajak-December 29 through December 30
Additionally, throughout the park, there are various forms of holiday entertainment. Here’s what you can expect in 2021:
- JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season – Showcase Plaza Stage
- Las Posadas Celebration – Mexico Pavilion
- A Mischievous Barn Santa – Norway Pavilion
- Chinese Lion Dance – China Pavilion
- La Befana – Italy Pavilion
- Santa Claus – The American Adventure Pavilion
- Daruma Storyteller – Japan Pavilion
- Hanukkah Storyteller – Between Morocco and France Pavilions
- Père Noël – France Pavilion
- Father Christmas – United Kingdom Pavilion
- Canadian Holiday Voyageurs – Canada Pavilion
Depending on the location, the entertainment might be in the form of singing, dancing, storytelling or all of the above!
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt
Finally, don’t forget about the kids! We loved playing Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak at the Food & Wine Festival, so we couldn’t pass up a little hunt with Olaf! Grab a map and hunt Olaf in each World Showcase Pavilion as you eat your way around the world.
Unlike other festivals, some of these were tough to find. Ask a Cast Member in each pavilion for help (you’ll need it, trust me).
The Family Play Zone was a little fun out of Mouse Gears and Test Track. 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 wish they would keep these play spaces up all the time! Kids need the freedom to run, climb, and jump; these family play zones allow even the smallest guests to do just that.