This year the holidays around Walt Disney World will (understandably) look a lot different, and that includes what you’ll find at Epcot.
The good news is that we will still have the Festival of the Holidays (which was formerly known as “Holidays around the World”). However, this year we will have a modified version called Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.
Running from November 27 – December 31, 2020, like other festivals at Epcot, it is included with the price of your admission.
Ready to learn more? Check out our overview below!
Live performances are rare right now, but thankfully you’ll have several opportunities to see live performances at Epcot this holiday season.
Looking for show times? You can check for that in your My Disney Experience app.
Joyful! A Celebration of the Season
Located inside World ShowPlace, JOYFUL! celebrates Kwanzaa and Christmas through spectacular Gospel and R&B vocals.
This fan favorite mariachi group is generally found in the Mexico pavilion. However, you can now see them perform holiday favorites in the American Gardens Theatre.
Voices of Liberty
The popular a cappella group becomes the “Dickens Carolers” and can be seen performing charming holiday melodies in the America Gardens Theatre.
These jamming custodians can be found performing on the Mill Stage in Canada during the holiday season.
New to Epcot in 2020, be on the lookout for Santa popping up to wave “hello!” from a safe distance.
While you can’t have a close interaction with him, you can expect to see him as he tours the World Showcase in a horse-drawn carriage.
Living with the Land: Merry and Bright Nights
Last year Living with the Land got a glow-up with some festive decorations.
We are excited to see these decorations have returned for this year.
One of our favorite re-opening additions to Disney World are the character cavalcades that occur at each of the parks.
And for the holiday season, at least some of the cavalcades at Epcot will be getting a holiday makeover.
While we don’t have all the details yet, we do know that you can expect to see a Frozen Holiday Promenade as well as a “Mickey and Friends Holiday World Tour.”
You can learn more about the cavalcades by checking out our Complete Guide to Disney World Cavalcades.
For most people, a trip to Epcot and the Festival of the Holidays isn’t complete without sampling food and drink from around the World Showcase.
And, just like the other festivals at Epcot, the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays also serves up sweet and savory treats (and beverages) in kiosks scattered throughout the World Showcase section of the park.
Here’s what you can find in 2020:
- American Holiday Table (American Adventure)
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany)
- Citrus Blossom (Showcase Plaza)
- Festival Favorites (World Showplace)
- Holiday Hearth (World Showplace)
- Holiday Sweets & Treats (Promenade Refreshments)
- L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen (Between Morocco and France)
- Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen (France)
- Mele Kalikimaka (Showcase Plaza)
- Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexico)
- Prost! (World Showplace)
- Sapphire Holiday Kitchen (Morocco)
- Shanghai Holiday Kitchen (China)
- Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen (Japan)
- Tuscany Holiday Kitchen (Italy)
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada)
In addition to the kitchens, you can also find tasty treats at the following:
- Funnel Cake (American Adventure): Sweet Potato Casserole Funnel Cake
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company: Caramel Tinsel Latte and Donut
- Refreshment Outpost: Warm Brown Sugar Stuffed Pretzel with Soft-Serve Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce
- Refreshment Port (Showcase Plaza): Holiday poutine, T.G. Lee Eggnog with Spiced Rum
Each booth and kiosk will have different food and beverage items representative of the countries of the World Showcase, and since portion sizes are small, you can easily try a variety without getting too full.
You can read all about the booths and see the menus on the Disney Food Blog Festival of the Holidays menu and booth index.
“Olaf’s Holiday Tradition” Scavenger Hunt
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Scavenger Hunt invites guests to traverse the World Showcase in search of holiday traditions that Olaf has misplaced.
To participate, guests simply need to pick up a map (available for a small fee from many of the shops in Epcot, including Mouse Gear, Disney Traders, and World Traveler) and then keep their eyes open for the traditions.
Once spotted, there are special stickers you can add to your map. After you complete it, you can take your map back to one of the shops where the maps are sold to exchange it for a special holiday-themed surprise!
Holiday Cookie Stroll
This fun addition that debuted in 2018 is making a return again in 2020.
The Holiday Cooke Stroll invites guests to the Festival of Holidays to try tasty cookies from around the World Showcase.
Cookies are available to purchase at specific “Cookie Stroll” locations and with every cookie you try you’ll be given a stamp.
Collect 5 stamps before the Festival of the Holidays ends and you’ll receive a complimentary Minnie Peppermint cookie.
Historical Festival of the Holidays information
Now for the not-so-fun part: listing what is missing.
We do believe that some of the items below will be returning for future holiday seasons, so we wanted to be sure to list it all here to help people planning for next year (or even the year after that) have an idea as to what is available under normal circumstances.
Probably the most well known piece of the Festival of Holidays, the Candlelight Processional is one of those traditions that many families return to see year-after-year.
You’ll find the Candlelight Processional in the outdoor American Gardens Theater, which is located in the American section of the World Showcase.
There, celebrity narrators read a presentation of the Christmas Story while joined by a huge choir and fantastic 50-piece orchestra.
Trust us: the entire thing is quite moving.
This 40 minute show usually takes place 3 times a day (5:00, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m).
There is no cost to attend, although it is very popular so securing a seat can be a challenge.
In the past, our favorite way to guarantee a seat was to book a Candlelight Processional Dining Package which paired a meal with a ticket for a seat at the Candlelight Processional.
Without a ticket, your only option to see the Candlelight Processional is to try for a standby seat, which for some performers can mean standing in line for 2 hours (or more).
And for the busiest times of the year (or the most popular narrators like Neil Patrick Harris), since your seat isn’t assigned with the dining package, you’d still want to get there early.
45 minutes ahead of the performance is generally fine (except for NPH; you’ll want to get there earlier for him!), unless you are extra particular about your seat.
Here was the list of narrators for the 2019 Candlelight Processionals:
- 11/29-12/1 – Ming-Na Wen
- 12/2-12/5 – Neil Patrick Harris
- 12/6-12/7 – Whoopi Goldberg
- 12/8-12/10 – Isabella Rossellini
- 12/11-12/12 – Alton Fitzgerald White
- 12/13-12/15 – Gary Sinise
- 12/16-12/18 – Pat Sajak
- 12/19-12/21 – Geena Davis
- 12/22-12/24 – Steven Curtis Chapman
- 12/25-12/26 – Edward James Olmos
- 12/27-12/28 – Marlee Matlin
- 12/29-12/30 – Lisa Ling
For reference, bookings for 2019 Candlelight Processional Dining Packages began on July 3 and the best reservations do go fast, but people cancel reservations all the time, so don’t give up.
Flexibility and perseverance are key.
Take a look at a sampling of a show that was hosted by my pretend BFF, Neil Patrick Harris, who normally narrates CP for a couple of nights.
World Showcase Storytellers
In a typical year, guests could enjoy the sights and sounds of the nations of World Showcase, as each country’s holiday heritage would come to life amid joyful music and time-honored traditions.
- Mexico: Las Posadas Celebration – Feliz Navidad! Join the fun and pageantry of Las Posadas with dancers, piñatas and the music of Mariachi Cobre
- Norway: A Mischievous Magical Barn Santa – Celebrate the season with laughter as a mischievous Barn Santa visits Sigrid, an unsuspecting Christmas storyteller
- China: Chinese Lion Dancer – Catch a glimpse of this colorful performance that brings good fortune and happiness in the Lunar New Year
- Germany: Chilli Da Mur – NEW! – Join as this accomplished German vocal group celebrates the season with folk music, pop and original songs
- Italy: La Befana – Listen to the tale of La Befana, a kind-hearted witch who visits sleeping children on the eve of the Epiphany
- The American Adventure: Santa and Mrs. Claus – Enjoy a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who have slipped away from their workshop at the North Pole to bring good cheer to you this holiday season
- Japan: Daruma Storyteller – Hear the fascinating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year!
- Morocco: Festivity in Morocco – Join in as a lively band recreates the fun of street festivals and the holiday season across Morocco
- Between France & Morocco: Hanukkah Storyteller – Join the storyteller Zachary as he shares legends, tells tales and sings songs, highlighting Hanukkah celebrations throughout the world
- France: Père Noël – Visit with Père Noël and rediscover the magic of Christmas through the letter of a delightful child
- United Kingdom: Father Christmas – Join Father Christmas as he rings in the season, sharing the traditions of the United Kingdom and good cheer
- Canada: Canadian Holiday Voyageurs – Explore holiday customs from across the vast regions of Canada on a musical tour of the Great White North
Holidays at Disney World
Want to see what the other parks are up to during the holiday season?
Read up on what you can expect in out Guide to the Holidays at Disney World.