The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is one of the best ways to celebrate the holiday season at Walt Disney World. Typically held every year running from around the Thanksgiving holiday until the end of December, this spectacular event is completely free with your theme park admission or annual pass.
The festival celebrates the holiday traditions of different cultures from around the world through food, music and entertainment. Guests can enjoy holiday-themed dishes and beverages from various countries at the Holiday Kitchens, watch live performances by musicians and dancers, and experience the Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the Christmas story featuring a celebrity narrator and a choir.
While the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is very family-friendly and is completely age appropriate for younger children. Parents will find that there are plenty of things for kids to do including experience the park’s rides and attractions like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (2023)
The 2023 version of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays will begin on November 24, 2023 and extend until December 30, 2023. The entire park is decorated for the season and highlighted by an enormous Christmas tree at the Port of Entry near entrance to the World Showcase.
In addition to the holiday themed entertainment and experiences, there are a number of “Holiday Kitchens” that offer a variety of different cuisine from around the world.
2023 Holiday Kitchens
The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays will feature specialty themed cuisine and drinks within “Holidays Kitchens” that are located throughout the the park. These eateries are typically available from late morning to park closing.
While the entire lineup for 2023 has yet to be announced, the following list of Holiday Kitchens have been confirmed:
- American Holiday Table (American Adventure Pavilion)
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany Pavilion)
- Bubbles & Brine (near the Port of Entry)
- Char & Chop (near Disney Traders)
- Holiday hearth Desserts (The Odyssey Pavilion)
- Holiday Sweets & Treats (near the Port of Entry)
- L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen (between Morocco and France)
- Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexico Pavilion)
- Le Marche’ de Noel Holiday Kitchen (France Pavilion)
- Nochebueana Cucina (near Test Track)
- Shanghai Holiday Kitchen (China Pavilion)
- Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen (Japan Pavilion)
- Swirled Showcase (near the Port of Entry)
- Tangierine Cafe: Flavors of the Medina (Morocco Pavilion)
- Tuscany Holiday Kitchen (Italy Pavilion)
- Wine & Wedge (near Disney Traders)
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada Pavilion)
Guests will also find special menu items at the following locations:
- Funnel Cake (American Adventure Pavilion)
- Jofffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company (multiple locations)
- Refreshment Outpost (between China & Germany)
- Refreshment Port (near Canada)
Entertainment & Activities
There is a great deal of activities and entertainment that takes place at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.
The Epcot Candlelight Processional is a one of the most beloved holiday traditions at Walt Disney World. This amazing performance is a retelling of the Christmas story through music and narration, featuring a celebrity guest narrator, a 50-piece orchestra and a choir.
The Candlelight Processional begins with the choir singing traditional Christmas carols, followed by the guest narrator reading the biblical story of the birth of Jesus. The orchestra and choir perform a selection of Christmas songs, including “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World” and “Hallelujah Chorus.”
The event concludes with a candle lighting ceremony, where the audience is invited to join in singing “Silent Night” while holding candles.
Celebrity narrators for 2023 include:
- Chrissy Metz: November 24th and 25th (New for 2023)
- Luis Fonsi: November 26th and 27th (New for 2023)
- Ann-Margret: November 28th and 29th (New for 2023)
- Simu Liu: November 30th through the December 2nd
- John Stamos: December 3rd through the 5th
- Neil Patrick Harris: December 6th through the 8th
- Marlee Matlin: December 9th through the 11th
- Brendan Fraser: December 12th through the 14th (New for 2023)
- Eva Longoria: December 15th and 16th (New for 2023)
- Joey McIntyre: December 17th and 18th (New for 2023)
- Sterling K. Brown: December 19th and 20th (New for 2023)
- Jordan Fisher: December 21st through the 23rd
- Stephen Curtis Chapman: December 24th through the 26th
- Audra McDonald: December 27th and 28th (New for 2023)
- Lisa Ling: December 19th and 30th
Meet and Greet with Santa Claus
Guests can get meet Santa Claus at the Odyssey Pavilion from November 24th to December 24th. Select times Santa is available are as follows:
- 11:00 AM
- 12:30 PM
- 2:00 PM
- 3:30 PM
- 5:00 PM
- 6:30 PM
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season is a live musical show that features a gospel choir, accompanied by a full band and a group of dancers, performing classic Christmas songs with a modern twist.
The show takes place in the World Showplace pavilion and includes a diverse group of performers who bring their own unique styles to the holiday music. The choir performs traditional Christmas carols as well as contemporary holiday songs and the dancers add a dynamic element to the show with their energetic choreography.
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season is a high-energy production that is sure to get visitors in the holiday spirit. The show opens at 1:15 PM, 2:20 PM, 3:25 PM and 4:30 PM.
Guests will enjoy celebrating the local holiday traditions from across the globe with themed experiences at each of the following countries at the World Showcase:
- Las Posadas Celebration at the Mexico Pavilion (Sunday through Thursday)
- A Mischievous Magical Barn Santa at the Norway Pavilion
- Chinese Lion Dancer at the China Pavilion
- La Befana at the Italy Pavilion
- Daruma Storyteller at the Japan Pavilion
- Hanukkah Storyteller between Morocco & France
- Pere Noel at the France Pavilion
- Father Christmas at the United Kingdom Pavilion
- Canadian Holiday Voyageurs at the Canada Pavilion
Holiday Cookie Stroll
The Holiday Cookie Stroll is a fun way for guests to sample holiday cookies from different countries around the World Showcase.
To participate in the Cookie Stroll, guests can purchase a Cookie Passport at any of the participating Holiday Kitchens. The passport includes a list of the five designated cookie spots where visitors can redeem their cookie vouchers. Once guests have collected all five stamps, they can receive a complimentary “completer” cookie and a special Cookie Stroll souvenir.
The cookies offered at the participating Holiday Kitchens vary each year, but they typically include classic holiday flavors like gingerbread, peppermint, and eggnog.
Best hotels to stay when visiting the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays?
Local area hotels book up quickly so it is our recommendation that you get your reservations as early as possible. Crowd levels are typically higher than usual due not only to this special event, but for summer vacations and fall holidays. Typically in the fall, there are always large conventions coming to Orlando where many hotels block off rooms for the convention attendees.
If you are planning on consuming a number of adult beverages at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, we would highly recommend you stay a hotel within walking distance or with a transportation service.
The Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort Hotels
The Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resorts comprise the following resort hotels and vacation club properties:
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas (vacation club)
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas (vacation club)
All three are within walking distance to Epcot’s International Gateway (the entrance in the World Showcase area of the park) and there is also a water taxi service that runs all day long.
These resort hotel are very popular and rates are typically not cheap. Prices range from less than $500 per night to more than $1,000 per night depending on the room type and the date of the stay.
The Walt Disney World Dolphin
The Walt Disney World Dolphin is one of our favorite hotels in Orlando and it is our “go to” when we are planning on visiting Epcot. The Dolphin is immediately adjacent to the Walt Disney World Boardwalk and within easy walking distance of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Water taxi transportation is also available.
The Dolphin is part of the Marriott Bonvoy program so guests can earn or use points for their stay at one of the 1,514 rooms or suites. There are extensive amenities and dining options at this massive resort.
Hotel rates range around $200.00 per night to more than $400.00 per night depending on the time a year and room type. There is a $35 per day resort fee plus a 6% resort tax on top of a 6.5% sales tax. Self parking costs $30 per night.