The beloved Candlelight Processional will return to EPCOT this holiday season for the first time since 2019. The Candlelight Processional is a retelling of the Christmas story through music, scripture readings, and celebrity narrators. This spectacular event was put on hold for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will make its triumphant return for the 2023 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.
A Brief History of the Candlelight Processional
The Candlelight Processional originated at Disneyland in 1958 under the direction of Dr. Charles Hirt of the University of Southern California. It started as a simple procession of carolers down Main Street and eventually grew into a full retelling of the Christmas story with a choir, live orchestra, and celebrity narrators. The Candlelight Processional became so popular that a version was brought to the Magic Kingdom in 1971 for Walt Disney World’s inaugural holiday season.
In 1994, the Candlelight Processional found its permanent home at EPCOT where it became the centerpiece of the International Festival of the Holidays. Over the decades, the Candlelight Processional has grown into a majestic concert event featuring a mass choir, a 50-piece orchestra, and A-list celebrity narrators. It has become a cherished tradition for guests visiting EPCOT during the Christmas season.
The Return in 2023
After a two-year hiatus, Disney has confirmed the Candlelight Processional will return to EPCOT from November 24 through December 30, 2023. It will feature three performances per night at 5:15pm, 7:00pm, and 8:30pm in World Showcase at the America Gardens Theatre. This year boasts an impressive lineup of celebrity narrators, including several first-timers to the event. Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown, and Brendan Fraser are just some of the big names who will be retelling the Christmas story this season.
Fan favorites like Neil Patrick Harris, Simu Liu, and Steven Curtis Chapman are also slated to return. In addition to the celebrity narrators, the Candlelight Processional will feature a mass choir comprised of Disney cast members, as well as a 50-piece live orchestra. The incredible Voices of Liberty a cappella ensemble will also be part of the event.
Chrissy Metz – November 24-25
Luis Fonsi – November 26-27
Ann-Margret – November 28-29
Simu Liu – November 30, December 1-2
John Stamos – December 3-5
Neil Patrick Harris – December 6-8
Marlee Matlin – December 9-11
Brendan Fraser – December 12-14
Eva Longoria – December 15-16
Joey McIntyre – December 17-18
Sterling K. Brown – December 19-20
Jordan Fisher – December 21-23
Steven Curtis Chapman – December 24-26
Audra McDonald – December 27-28
Lisa Ling – December 29-30
What to Expect at the Performances
The Candlelight Processional is an open-air, uncovered theater, so guests should dress appropriately for the weather. Central Florida can experience cooler temperatures in the evenings during the holiday season. No separate ticket is required for the Candlelight Processional as it is included with regular EPCOT admission. However, seating at the America Gardens Theatre is first-come, first-served. Guests will want to plan to arrive early to secure a seat, especially for popular narrators. Disney offers Candlelight Processional Dining Packages to guarantee seating.
These packages include a meal at select EPCOT restaurants plus access to a reserved viewing section for the performance. Packages need to be booked in advance and are highly recommended for anyone wanting stress-free seating. The show itself is approximately 40 minutes long. It tells the traditional story of Christmas through scripture readings and holiday songs performed by the mass choir and orchestra. The celebrity narrator reads the story and guides the audience through the production.
Here are some tips for having the best experience at the Candlelight Processional:
Arrive at least 60-90 minutes early if you don’t have a dining package. This will ensure you get a seat.
Bring small snacks and drinks to enjoy while you wait. You can also take turns saving seats if you are with a group.
Dress warmly! Blankets are allowed in the theater. Hand warmers and hot drinks help too.
Be prepared to stand at certain points, like when the choir sings “Hallelujah Chorus.”
Capture photos and video, but be respectful by turning the flash off and avoiding blocking views.
Stay until the end! The Voices of Liberty lead a singalong of traditional Christmas carols.
The Candlelight Processional Completes the Holiday Season
The return of the Candlelight Processional completes the holiday lineup at EPCOT. It joins other favorites like the Christmas tree trail, holiday kitchens, and JOYFUL! A Holiday Experience. Now that this cherished tradition is back, the 2023 holiday season at Walt Disney World will be merry and bright. Guests visiting EPCOT between November 24 and December 30 should absolutely make time to experience the Candlelight Processional. Hearing the story of Christmas accompanied by beautiful music is sure to get everyone into the holiday spirit.