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Epcot celebrates the holidays as only it can with the International Festival of the Holidays!
While this is technically Epcot’s newest festival, many of its elements have been around for years as part of Epcot’s Holidays Around the World celebration.
This festival will run from November 18th through December 30th in 2018. Read on to learn more about the decorations, food, and special entertainment that are part of the festival!
Epcot Festival of the Holidays Decorations
You will find Epcot fully decorated for the holidays on the first day of the festival! This includes a huge tree at the entrance to World Showcase.
There are also gorgeous decorations ALL over the park, so take some time to explore each pavilion to see the unique decorations.
I love the special Disney touches the most, of course!
Each night from Thanksgiving to December 30th there are three nightly performances of the Candlelight Processional. These are the times of the performances (which are free with Epcot admission):
- 5:00 pm
- 6:45 pm
- 8:15 pm
The performances include a massive choir, live orchestra, and celebrity narrator who reads passages from the biblical Christmas story.
The show is tremendously popular (for good reason – it’s amazing!) and many people who wait in line will be turned away due to the limited seating. Even if you can’t get a seat, you can stand and watch the show from behind the theater.
The best way to see the Candlelight Processional is to book a dining package that includes guaranteed preferred seating to the concert. You can read all about the dining packages and my recommendations for the best ones here.
Due to the popularity of Food & Wine, it seems that food booths are a permanent feature at Epcot festivals! Epcot Festival of the Holidays features small portions of traditional fare from around the world at its Holiday Kitchens.
One of my favorite items was the Buche de Noel from the Canada booth (pictured above) for $4.50.
Another standout was the mini turkey dinner (for only $5.25) from the America booth. It was really filling and gave me a taste of the holidays without all of the work!
The tamales from the Feast of the Three Kings (found on the walkway from the Imagination pavilion to World Showcase) was my other favorite item for $5.75.
Everything on this booth’s menu looked good!
The best thing I drank was this Black Currant Apple Cider ($4.25) from the booth by Germany. It was light, crisp, and delicious.
I spent less than $20 and had what felt like a full holiday feast at the Epcot Festival of the Holidays kitchens.
Meet Santa & Mrs. Claus
Don’t pay a bunch of money to meet Santa at your local mall if you are visiting Epcot during the holidays! Santa and Mrs. Claus meet kids (and grownups!) throughout the day in the American Adventure pavilion.
You can take pictures yourself or use the PhotoPass pictures – just be sure to scan your MagicBand before you leave! You can view all of the pictures for free and download one for $15 – that’s way cheaper than a pro photo package at the mall.
Holiday storytellers around World Showcase share traditions from their country with guests throughout the day. There is a schedule of when and where to find each storyteller in the Times Guide, which you can grab when you enter the park. Expect festive live music performances throughout the park during the holiday season as well.
I also have to mention the incredible special “holiday tag” ending to Illuminations, the nighttime show at Epcot. It adds a few more minutes of jaw-dropping pyrotechnics to an otherwise excellent show. My husband saw this version of Illuminations first and is forever disappointed with the “standard” non-holiday version!
In summary, here’s what to expect at the Epcot Festival of the Holidays:
- Nightly performances of the super-popular Candlelight Processional and dining packages with reserved seating
- Delicious sample-sized food and drink at the Holiday Kitchens
- Lots of bonus entertainment including live music, storytellers, Santa meet and greet, and an incredible special ending to Illuminations
Check out my Ultimate Guide to a Budget-Friendly Christmas at Disney World here for lots of ideas for an affordable holiday trip. Any questions? Leave a comment below or join the discussion in the Budget Mouse private Facebook group!