The rest of Walt Disney World may currently be awash in a flurry of Christmas decorations, but over at Epcot, the yuletide festivities won’t officially kick off until later this November with the start of the Epcot Festival of the Holidays. This year, the celebratory soiree is set to run from November 26 to December 30, 2021, sharing with guests the rousing music, tasty food and fascinating holiday traditions shared by cultures worldwide.
Eat and drink your way around World Showcase as you sample the most quintessential Christmas treat of all, the humble cookie, listen to Holiday Storytellers and the Christmas story, and much more. So, don your tackiest, most festive sweater and bring your appetite as we unwrap all there is to know about the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays 2021.
Festival of the Holidays Epcot COVID-19 Update
For those planning a Walt Disney World Christmas trip, you might be wondering whether the Epcot holiday festival is worth it this year, given that we’re still in the midst of the pandemic. Well, we’re thrilled to say that the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays 2021 is shaping up to be one of the best Epcot festivals since COVID-19 began.
The festival’s Holiday Kitchens will be dishing up some deliciously festive eats. And the cast member and fan-favorite Candlelight Processional is back, albeit in a slightly different form than in past years, as are the Holiday Storytellers. However, you can still expect some changes.
Masks and Social Distancing – Whether vaccinated or not, guests must wear face coverings in all indoor locations, including restaurants, hotels, indoor rides and queues and free Disney transportation options like the monorail, Disney Skyliner, boats and buses. In outdoor areas, however, face masks are completely optional.
Park Reservations – Park capacity is still being regulated to support social distancing to ensure guests’ and cast members’ safety. As such, a Disney Park Pass Reservation is required to gain entry. Once in the park, you can then park hop to Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom if you choose, starting at 2 PM and provided there is availability (refer to the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date information). So, if going to the Epcot Christmas festival is your priority, we recommend you make your reservation for Epcot, then park hop somewhere else later if you’re so inclined – though why you’d want to leave all that tasty food is beyond us.
Disney Character Experiences – Believe it or not, Anna and Elsa can catch COVID too. As a result, Disney character interactions such as meet-and-greets and character dining are temporarily modified, replaced or canceled. So, while you won’t be able to give characters a hug and get their autographs like you could before, you can snap a socially distanced selfie or wave at them from afar. Character dining, meanwhile, is similarly altered or nixed.
Epcot Festival of the Holidays 101 – What Is It?
The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is a yearly celebration of the sights, sounds, traditions and flavors of the festive season beloved by cultures from across the globe. This merry event brings together a collection of worldly holiday kitchens, rousing entertainment, a Christmas cookie crawl, scavenger hunt and more, making it a must-go for all fans of this spirited time.
Best of all, you get to experience most of it with your theme park ticket, granting you access to:
More than 14 holiday kitchens (food and beverage costs not included)
Musical and dramatic performances
Exclusive merchandise (not included)
And other family-friendly, merriment-inducing activities!
When are the Epcot Festival of the Holidays 2021 dates?
Unfortunately, the Disney Festival of the Holidays is the shortest of the Epcot festivals, clocking in at just over a month long. This year, guests can soak up all the Christmas cheer from November 26 to December 30, 2021. Currently, Epcot is open from 10 AM to 10 PM, though the park occasionally opens an hour later at 11 AM.
How much should I plan to spend at the Disney Festival of the Holidays 2021?
Like the other festivals at Epcot, no special ticket is required to attend the Festival of the Holidays – just your regular theme park ticket. However, though food may be one of the stars of the festival (like any self-respecting Christmas get-together), the cost of those dishes and drinks is additional. Plan to spend between $3 to $9 per item.
Where to Stay for the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
Want to stick close to all that Epcot Christmas action but not sure which Disney World hotel to stay at? For easy access to the festival (and a quick retreat to your hotel room once you’re too full or tipsy to do any more eating or drinking around the world), we recommend you choose one of the Epcot-area resorts or a hotel along the Disney Skyliner. A convenient location is crucial to getting as much done on your to-do list as possible while also making it easy to sneak back to your room for a midday nap.
Walking Distance Resorts in the Epcot Area
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (Good Neighbor Hotels)
Resorts With Disney Skyliner Access to Epcot
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Holiday Kitchens: Epcot Christmas Food Booths
Aside from the gift-giving, Christmas carols, holiday decorations and, of course, spending time with the people you love, one of the highlights of the winter season is all the yummy food. Whether decorating cookies, gorging yourself on turkey with all the fixings or trying the many flavors of candy cane, the only holiday more foodie-focused than Christmas and its other cozy, cold-weather counterparts is Thanksgiving.
This Disney Epcot holiday food festival brings the flavors of some of the season’s most delicious cultural, culinary traditions to 18 different food booths, including 14 holiday kitchens. While most stalls are returning favorites this year, the new Chestnuts & Good Cheer Holiday Kitchen serves up one of winter’s sweetest snacks: spiced and roasted nuts.
Epcot Holiday Festival 2021 Booths
So, have we tempted you yet with all this talk of cookies and other festive goodies? Then read on for all the tantalizing Epcot holiday food offerings available at the festival’s many booths. For the complete menus, please refer to our Epcot Festival of the Holidays Foodie Guide.
American Holiday Table
Enjoy a seasonal salute—dig into traditional dishes reminiscent of grandma’s cooking at the American Adventure Pavilion.
Bavaria Holiday Kitchen
Willkommen – help yourself to heartwarming holiday dishes and refreshing beverages at the Germany Pavilion.
NEW! Chestnuts & Good Cheer Holiday Kitchen
Join in on the festivities when you visit this new location near Disney Traders offering cinnamon-glazed nuts and holiday beverages.
The Donut Box
Enjoy a classic dessert dressed up in a little holiday cheer when you try one of our seasonally-themed donuts next to Test Track.
Holiday Hearth Desserts
Discover the hearth you’ll call home, with holly jolly desserts, hot cocoa and so much more near Port of Entry.
Holiday Sweets & Treats
Rock around the Christmas tree near Port of Entry with tasty desserts and festive sips sure to top the “nice” list.
L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen
Propose a toast to life—sink your teeth into classic deli noshes with a side of New York flair, located between the Morocco and France Pavilions.
Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen
Feast on très magnifique fare, wine and specialty cocktails from the France Pavilion.
Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen
Feliz Navidad—celebrate with mariachi dancing and south-of-the-border fare at the Mexico Pavilion!
Stop over by Traveler’s Café to savor the flavor of fabulous, festive food and beverages from the islands of Hawai‘i.
Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen
Please your palate with an array of festive dishes and drinks served at the Japan Pavilion.
Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina
Travel to the Morocco Pavilion for delicious kebabs and cocktails.
Tuscany Holiday Kitchen
Mangiare—savor a seasonal take on some of the world’s best-loved food and beverages at the Italy Pavilion!
Yukon Holiday Kitchen
Jingle your bells with delightful dishes and libations from the Great White North—at the Canada Pavilion.
In addition to these global-inspired Holiday Kitchens, seasonal specialties are also available at the Funnel Cake stand near The American Adventure, Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company, Refreshment Outpost and RefreshmentPort.
Channel Your Inner Santa Claus During the Holiday Cookie Stroll
With so many festive culinary creations to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming. So, unless you’re planning on stuffing yourself silly like Santa on Christmas Eve or returning several times so you can visit every food booth possible, Disney is here to save the day with their Holiday Cookie Stroll.
If there’s one dish that evokes the many sides of the holidays, it has to be the simple cookie. Whether snickerdoodle, gingerbread or a sugar cookie shaped like a tree and doused with green icing and an avalanche of sprinkles, variations of this yuletide treat are enjoyed by celebrants worldwide this time of year. So, it’s only fitting that this sweet scavenger hunt is all about Santa’s favorite food.
As you explore World Showcase, bite into five unique cookies, from jelly-filled to stuffed with Snickers pieces. Don’t forget to claim the accompanying stamps for each cookie with a cast member in your Festival Passport. Then, at the end of your delicious journey, make your way to Holiday Sweets & Treats for a complimentary reward.
American Holiday Table – Chocolate Crinkle Cookie made with DOVE Dark Chocolate
Bavaria Holiday Kitchen – Linzer Cookie
Holiday Hearth Desserts – Gingerbread Cookie
L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen – Black and White Cookie
Yukon Holiday Kitchen – Snickers-Doodle Cookie with Snickers candy pieces
Disney Festival of the Holidays 2021 Entertainment & Activities
While food is at the heart of this most merry time of year, and likewise at the Epcot Festival of Holidays, it wouldn’t be the Christmas season without carols, traditions and fun. So keep reading for all the scheduled entertainment for this whirlwind tour of holidays around the world, Epcot-style.
International Festival of the Holidays Live Entertainment
As Buddy the Elf so eloquently put, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.” If that’s the case, then there’s a whole lot of festive cheer going around the Disney World Festival of the Holidays. From hearing a celebrity narrator tell the story of Christmas) during the Candlelight Processional to watching Holiday Storytellers share their culture’s winter traditions, there’s plenty to see and do.
Candlelight Processional | America Gardens Theatre
Although this perennial favorite was on hiatus last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are thrilled to report that the Candlelight Processional is making its triumphant return this year – complete with celebrity narrators. The featured celebrity narrator will retell the Christmas story during this joyous stage show, backed by a full orchestra and massed choir.
While local choirs and school groups won’t be taking the stage this year due to Disney’s vaccination requirement for all performers, the cast member choir is being expanded so that they may appropriately repeat the sounding joy.
Auli’i Cravalho: November 26 through November 28
Chita Rivera: November 29 through December 1
Jodi Benson: December 2 through December 4
Alton Fitzgerald White: December 5 through December 7
Bart Millard: December 8 through December 10
Lisa Ling: December 11 through December 13
Andy Garcia: December 14 through December 16
Ana Gasteyer: December 17 through December 19
Courtney B. Vance: December 20 through December 22
Steven Curtis Chapman: December 23 through December 25
Blair Underwood: December 26 through December 28
Pat Sajak: December 29 through December 30
For those who don’t want to miss a second of the yuletide action, Candlelight Processional Dining Packages are also available at four Epcot restaurants, including Biergarten, Garden Grill, Rose & Crown Dining Room and Coral Reef Restaurant. Depending on which restaurant you choose, dinners include either a full buffet or an appetizer, entrée and dessert. One non-alcoholic beverage is also provided. Seating is at the Candlelight Processional is also guaranteed, meaning that you won’t have to waste time in line trying to get a spot.
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season | Showcase Plaza Stage
Experience the joy of gospel and rhythm and blues as the JOYFUL! ensemble performs holiday music in celebration of Christmas and Kwanzaa.
Las Posadas Celebration | Mexico Pavilion
¡Feliz Navidad! Join the fun and pageantry of Las Posadas with dancers, piñatas and the music of Mariachi Cobre.
A Mischievous Barn Santa | Norway Pavilion
Celebrate the season with laughter as a mischievous Barn Santa visits Sigrid, an unsuspecting Christmas storyteller.
Chinese Lion Dance | China Pavilion
Catch a glimpse of this colorful performance that brings good fortune and happiness in the Lunar New Year.
Le Befana | Italy Pavilion
Come hear the tale of La Befana, the kind-hearted witch who visits sleeping young children on the Eve of the Epiphany.
Santa Claus | The American Adventure Pavilion
Get ready for Christmas with Santa Claus now through December 24. Whether you know him as St. Nick, Père Noël or Father Christmas, a visit with jolly Santa Claus brings good cheer to the season.
Daruma Storyteller | Japan Pavilion
Hear the fascinating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year!
Hanukkah Storyteller| Between Morocco and France Pavilions
Join us along the World Showcase promenade, where a storyteller recounts traveling abroad to explore the diverse music and traditions of Hanukkah around the world.
Père Noël | France Pavilion
Visit with Père Noël and rediscover the magic of Christmas through the letter of a delightful child.
Father Christmas | United Kingdom Pavilion
See Father Christmas as he rings in the season, sharing the traditions of the United Kingdom and good cheer.
Canadian Holiday Voyageurs | Canada Pavilion
Explore holiday customs from the various regions of Canada on a musical tour of the Great White North with the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs.
Other Epcot Holiday Activities
As much as we love tucking into something tasty while tapping our toes to the music, there’s more to this Epcot Christmas-Around-the-World Extravaganza than cookies and carols. So whether you’re on the (scavenger) hunt for an activity to make the adult-friendly Epcot a little more kid-friendly or are simply searching for that special souvenir, you’ll find it at the International Festival of the Holidays.
We love a good Disney World scavenger hunt. Not only are they fun for the whole family, but they never fail to keep the theme parks fresh no matter how many times you’ve been before. This merry quest features everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf, as he sets about searching for holiday traditions.
Your scavenger hunt map and accompanying stickers can be purchased from either Creations Shop, Port of Entry or World Traveler at International Gateway for $9.99 plus tax, while supplies last. Then, once you’ve tracked down all those wayward traditions, head back to the store to redeem your complimentary gift.
Living with the Land’s Merry Makeover
With its leisurely tour of Epcot’s greenhouses, Living with the Land is both relaxing and educational. But, this attraction gets even better during the holiday season thanks to a yuletide takeover – twinkle lights included. While it can’t quite match the jolly spirit of Magic Kingdom’s Jingle Cruise, this understated alternative is still worth a ride.
Disney Festival of the Holidays Merchandise
Last but not least, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a little (or a lot of) holiday shopping, and there’s no better place to look for the perfect gift than this holiday festival. Epcot’s seasonal soiree offers a number of places to buy that special present or memento, from homespun sweets and holiday wines to spirit jerseys and mugs. There’s even a new collection starring Frozen’s Olaf and Sven, the loveable reindeer. So stop by Port of Entry, Creations Shop and other World Showcase stores to snag something for everyone on your list.
Well, cookie fiends and holiday fans, that wraps up our guide to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays 2021. Are you going to the Festival of the Holidays? Which holiday kitchen are you excited to try? Are you ready for the return of the Candlelight Processional? Let us know in the comments!