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2023 EPCOT Festival of the Holidays Preview What’s Returning and What’s New

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The 2023 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is happening from November 24 to December 30. The Festival will include the typical components of every EPCOT festival: commemorative merchandise, themed entertainment, educational elements, park decor, and, of course, food booths. What should you expect to see? Read on!

Themed Entertainment – Candlelight Processional

The Candlelight Processional features a celebrity narrator recounting the story of Christmas through words and music. The narrator includes some Bible passages and is backed by an orchestra and choirs singing both secular and religious Christmas music. Not surprisingly, many participants in the show hold candles and there are holiday florals and lights throughout the stage area.

Attending the Processional is a beloved tradition for many Disney-going families of all backgrounds. If, however, you don’t celebrate Christmas or mixing religion with a theme park vacation is not your preference, then you can safely spend your time elsewhere.

The show takes place at the America Gardens pavilion in the World Showcase area of EPCOT. There are three performances each night – at 5:15 pm, 7:00 pm, and 8:30 pm.

This year’s narrators (new narrators are marked with a ❇) are:

  • Nov 24-25: Chrissy Metz ❇
  • Nov 26-27: Luis Fonsi ❇
  • Nov 28-29: Ann-Margret ❇
  • Nov 30- Dec 2: Simu Liu
  • Dec 3-5: John Stamos
  • Dec 6-8: Neil Patrick Harris
  • Dec 9-11: Marlee Matlin
  • Dec 12-14: Brendan Fraser ❇
  • Dec 15-16: Eva Longoria ❇
  • Dec 17-18: Joey McIntyre ❇
  • Dec 19-20: Sterling K. Brown ❇
  • Dec 21-23: Jordan Fisher ❇
  • Dec 24-26: Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Dec 27-28: Audra McDonald ❇
  • Dec 29-30: Lisa Ling

Candlelight Processional dining packages are available during select Festival dates. Booking a dining package gives you guaranteed seating at an event, with less time waiting in line. Reserve through the dining portal on the Disney World website or the My Disney Experience app.

In addition to the Processional, also keep an eye out for JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season. The JOYFUL! ensemble sings Gospel, R&B, and holiday songs at 1:15 pm, 2:20 pm, 3:25 pm, and 4:30 pm daily at the World Showcase Plaza.

Educational Elements – Storytellers

No Epcot Festival would be complete without some educational elements and, not surprisingly, the Holiday Festival education comes in the form of storytellers.

Storytellers recount traditional tales told in many of the World Showcase countries. They provide children (and adults) with a taste of how the holidays are celebrated in different countries. Some of the offerings include:

Note: Performance times vary. Check the My Disney Experience app for details. Performances typically last between 15-25 minutes.

  • Las Posadas Celebration – Mexico Pavilion.
  • A Mischievous Magical Barn Santa – Norway Pavilion. .
  • La Befana – Italy Pavilion.
  • Chinese Lion Dancer. China 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.
  • Santa Claus – The Odyssey Pavilion. (Through December 24.)

Even if you can’t stop to watch the Storytellers, take a look at their performance areas as you stroll by. Many have posted signs that describe their country’s holiday traditions.

Park Decor

Look for Christmas trees, bunting, and festive lights throughout the parks. Some of our favorite elements are the holiday-themed topiaries and the decorations that coordinate with the overall themes of the World Showcase countries.

If you’re at EPCOT later in the day, be sure to keep an eye on Spaceship Earth. She’ll be turned into a giant light-up ornament at night!

Outdoor Kitchens (aka Food Booths)

Check out the full menus for the Festival of the Holidays food booths.

Some of our favorites from recent years have been the slow-roasted turkey (American Holiday Table), the cheese fondue in a bread bowl (Bavarian Holiday Kitchen), and the pastrami on rye (L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen).

To see how this season’s food items fare, follow along on the TouringPlans Instagram feed.

Another fun foodie activity during the Festival is the Holiday Cookie Stroll.

Purchase 5 cookies from any of the official cookie stroll locations featured in the Festival Passport (available at the park entrances) — and be sure to collect a matching stamp for each cookie purchased. Once you’ve collected 5 stamps, bring the stamped Passport to the Holiday Sweets & Treats booth to receive a specialty treat. This activity is available for all ages and can be completed any time between the beginning of the Festival and December 30, 2023. See the Festival booklet for complete details.


There will be a few merchandise items marked as holiday festival exclusives, but most guests will be focusing on the general Christmas merchandise that is available throughout all the WDW parks as well as on and at some Disney stores in other locations. Note: photos in this section ©Disney

While the selection of Hanukkah merchandise is a fraction of the number of Christmas items sold in the parks, but Disney has been doing better about representation over the past several years, albeit very slowly.

And don’t forget that the Germany pavilion has a fun selection of holiday merchandise available year round.

Let us know what you’re most looking forward to this year!

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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