Epcot Festival of the Holidays
Epcot Festival of the Holidays Review
The Epcot Festival of the Holidays is a short festival that takes place between Thanksgiving and New Years. Fewer festival days plus all of the other holiday events at Disney World, means that this festival doesn’t get the same attention as other Epcot festivals, such as the Food and Wine festival. While the Festival of the Holidays is smaller and shorter, we think it adds extra holiday fun to Epcot. In this post, we cover all of the aspects of the Epcot Festival of the Holidays as well as our recommendations.
What Is The Festival of the Holidays?
This festival celebrates holiday traditions from around the world. While many of the other Disney parks focus on just Christmas, Epcot celebrates a variety of cultures and traditions. Learning about other cultures is one of the focal points of Epcot’s World Showcase. We love that Disney incorporated this aspect into the Festival of the Holidays.
For 2019, the Festival of the Holidays runs from November 29 through December 30. The main aspects of this festival are the holiday kitchens and the candlelight processional. While we will go into each of these in more detail below, the kitchens are holiday versions of the food booths that can be found throughout the various Epcot festivals. The candlelight processional is the show associated with the festival. The processional is different from the concerts often associated with Epcot festivals.
Is The Festival of the Holidays Fun For Adults?
We love all of the Epcot festivals. Any festival means bonus food and entertainment when visiting Epcot. That being said, we don’t think the Festival of the Holidays is at the same level as the other Epcot festivals. Why? There aren’t as many food and other entertainment options as the other Epcot festivals. The Festival of the Holidays is still very fun and a great thing for adults to check out. If you are in Disney World while it is taking place, we definitely recommend exploring the festival.
In our Vlog below, we explore the Festival of the Holidays opening day of 2019. Festival of the Holidays starts at time 7:20 if you want to skip ahead to that part.
One thing to be aware of, is while the holidays at Disney World are extra magical, they can get very busy. Crowds around Thanksgiving and Christmas are especially busy. We often go to the parks during this time. If you book a vacation during this time, be sure to plan accordingly and be prepared for crowds.
The Festival Is Free
Access to the Festival of the Holidays is included with general Epcot theme park admission. This includes access to the candlelight processional, holiday storytellers, and food kitchens. However, all of the food and drink options at the kitchens must be purchased. Depending on how much you eat and drink from the holiday kitchens, the cost of an afternoon at the Festival of the Holidays can add up.
The candlelight processional is a combination of music and a narration of Christmas. The narration is completed by a celebrity. The celebrity changes every couple of nights. Neil Patrick Harris and Whoopi Goldberg often narrate a few nights each year. Disney posts a list of the all of the narrators. In addition to the narrator, there is a choir and orchestra. They add an important musical component to the show. While the celebrity narrator is a fun aspect, for us, the music is the best part.
There are three performances of the candlelight processional each night. Shows take place at 5:00pm, 6:45pm and 8:15pm. Most years we catch the candlelight processional while walking around the world showcase. If you want to watch the full show, you can line up before the start of the show to get a seat. You can also grab a seat even after the show starts if they are available. If you plan on attending a popular celebrity narrator, such as Neal Patrick Harris, we recommend arriving early. If you want guaranteed seats, consider booking a dining package.
Festival of the Holidays Storytellers and Music
Most country pavilions have holiday storytellers or music acts. These entertainment options are a nice bonus from the festival. The storytellers share fun information about holiday traditions from around the world. The music acts share holiday music from their respective country. We especially like the music acts from Germany and Morocco.
While these entertainment options are interesting, we usually do not make a plan to go to a specific one. Instead, as we walk around World Showcase, if we see the performers out, we will go and watch the show for a little bit and then walk on. Some examples of the storytellers and entertainment are provided in the photo below.
Festival of the Holiday passport books are free and can be picked up at the festival booths, the entrances to the park, or various locations throughout World Showcase. The passport includes information about the cookie stroll, food, drinks, and entertainment. It also lists general information about the festival. We use the passport to keep track of the food items that we try.
Festival of the Holidays Kitchens
For 2019, there are 13 unique food booths (kitchens). Most of the booths include several food and drink options. One exception is the Prost Booth which only includes drinks. Many of the booths are themed to a specific country. One non-country specific booth is L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen which offers classic Jewish dishes.
Similar to other Epcot festivals, the portions at the holiday kitchens are small. Disney calls them tasting size. The benefit of the smaller portions is that you can try several items without being too full. The downside is that the cost can add up quickly.
What To Try
We really enjoy the food from the American Holiday Table. The turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce is like Thanksgiving leftovers. The portion is somewhat small and costs $5.75. The ham with green beans and sweet potato casserole is another good option for $6.
One dessert I love is the tres leches rice pudding (gluten free) from the Feast of the Three Kings booth. You have to like rice pudding, but if you do this is a great option.
My favorite item from the festival is the ichigo milk boba. This drink is a strawberry milk drink and is a bit sweet. I think this may be a love or hate item, but for me it was a love. The drink costs $5.25 and can be found at the Shi Wasu booth in Japan.
One of our friends that explored the festival with us has a gluten allergy. She tried two dishes from the Mexico booth, Las Posadas, and really enjoyed them. The tostada de puerco (pork) is $8.50. While a bit more expensive, the portion is really large. She also enjoyed the tamal de pollo (chicken) which cost $6.75.
Items To Avoid
The Canadian ham soup with a pretzel roll is the worst dish that we ate at the festival. It was salty and lacked flavor ($5). Also, I wanted to love the chengdu street fries from the Shanghai booth in China, but I found them a bit spicy and boring. Also, I didn’t think they were worth the $5.50 price tag.
We typically don’t get alcoholic drinks from the festival booths. Not because they aren’t good, but because we have a harder time justifying the cost of the drinks with the small size. Epcot has so many drinks we love. In fact we did a post with our 5 favorite Epcot drinks. So while we may get a festival drink if it is something that really caught our eye, generally we skip the drinks at the booths.
Festival of the Holidays Cookie Stroll
The holiday cookie stroll is a list of select cookies from the festival. If you purchase 5 cookies and get stamps of them in your official Festival of the Holidays passport, you receive a free Santa Mickey sugar cookie. One important thing to know is you can get multiple of the same cookie and have it count towards the 5. Just be sure to double check with a cast member and make sure the cookie is included in the cookie stroll list.
Skip The Cookie Stroll
While I love desserts, I have not done the cookie stroll. Why? Because a free sugar cookie is not enough for me to purchase the cookies included in the stroll when there are other desserts I want more. If you plan on trying the cookies included in the stroll, then definitely get the stamp and get the free sugar cookie. If that is not the case for you, we would skip the cookie stroll.
Our Overall Recommendation
If you are in Disney World when the Festival of the Holidays is taking place, we highly recommend exploring the festival. The festival provides some fun food and drink options. The candlelight processional is a very unique experience while the storytellers and holiday music performers add to the holiday atmosphere. While we highly recommend the festival, we wouldn’t plan a trip just for Festival of the Holidays. If you have any questions or if you have been to the Epcot Festival of the Holidays, please leave a comment below.
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