Festival of the Holidays at EPCOT 2023

The BEST Things to Do with Kids at EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays

The magic of the holidays is about to descend on Walt Disney World Resort and a favorite for Disney families like mine is the EPCOT Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth which returns November 24, 2023, through December 30, 2023.

My family loves this festival because it is full of holiday fun, about as full as Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve.

Related: The BEST Hotels at Disney World for the Holidays

We’ve attended for several years and went back again this year. Our guide will walk you through our experiences, including what’s NEW at EPCOT. So let’s dive in!


The Best Live Entertainment for Kids at EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays 2023

The EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays 2023 is a great way to teach your kids about some of the holiday traditions around the world, through food, storytelling, and decorations. It’s one of the best parts of the holidays at Walt Disney World.

You can dance along to the live music of ‘JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season featuring upbeat gospel and R&B holiday tunes and even take pictures with Santa at The Odyssey Pavilion.

But, that’s not all! One of our favorites is listening to the Holiday Storytellers!

Holiday Storytellers

If your kids are young, like my four-year-old son, live entertainment may not keep their attention for too long – and that’s okay. That’s why I love the Holiday Storytellers at each World Showcase Pavilion at EPCOT.

I love that each one is positioned near the main promenade so they are easy to find. You can look up the showtimes of the Holiday Storytellers in the My Disney Experience app. Usually, the showtimes enable you to watch 2 to 3 storytellers in a row, moving from one pavilion to the next, but it does take some planning.

Father Christmas at EPCOT Festival of the Holidays United Kiingdom
Father Christmas at the United Kingdom Pavilion at the Festival of the Holidays at EPCOT. Photo by Laura Byrne -2023.

And if you find that your kid(s) aren’t up to watching the entire presentation, it is pretty easy to politely scootch your kids away and onto the next thing.

Here are the Holiday Storyteller locations for 2023:

  • Mexico Pavilion – Las Posadas Celebration: Sunday through Thursday
  • Norway Pavilion – A Mischievous Magical Barn Santa: Daily
  • China Pavilion – Chinese Lion Dancer: Daily
  • Italy Pavilion – La Befana: Daily
  • Japan Pavilion – Daruma Storyteller: Daily
  • Between the Morocco and France Pavilions – Hanukkah Storyteller: Daily
  • France Pavilion – Pere Noel: Daily
  • United Kingdom Pavilion – Father Christmas: Daily
  • Canada Pavilion – Canadian Holiday Voyageurs: Daily
  • The Odyssey Pavilion – Santa Greeting: Daily through December 24, 2023
Santa at EPCOT
Meet Santa at the Odyssey Pavilion during the Festival of the Holidays at EPCOT. Photo by Laura Byrne -2023.

Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt

Another must-do activity with kids is Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt. This annual tradition is all about finding holiday traditions around the world, with Olaf as your guide. If your family has ever watched the holiday special “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” this scavenger hunt is for you.

For $9.99 you can purchase a special map. The best spot to pick this up is the Disney Traders shops. These twin shops flank both sides of the main plaza to World Showcase. Picking up an Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Map here will enable you to get started without missing any of the pavilions.

As you and your kids spot Olaf throughout World place the sticker with the correct holiday tradition on the corresponding World Showcase location on the map.

Pro Parenting Tip be sure to read the short description of each tradition next to each sticker so you and your kids can learn what each tradition means.

The Candlelight Processional 

The main event of the International Festival of the Holidays 2023 is the Candlelight Processional. For many, this is a favorite holiday tradition. It can be a little long for some kids so before you book that all-important dining package that includes reserved seating, think about your individual child’s needs.

The Processional is about 30 minutes and includes an incredible orchestra and choir. It can feel a little bit like attending church or a religious service so if your child(ren) has difficulty sitting still during such an experience it may make more sense for your family to enjoy bits of the presentation as you stroll along World Showcase promenade rather than spending the money for a dining package or waiting an hour in line to hopefully get seating.

EPCOT Candelight Processional Returns for 2021- in this photo of the stage a sign language interpreter is near the front of the stage, dressed in all black with his arms raised as he inteprets the music being performed by an orchestra to his right, dressed in all black, a choir dressed in all red staged elevated above the orchestra, and a larger choir dressed in golden gowns staged on bleachers behind the interpreter.
EPCOT Candlelight Processional Returns for 2023

If you do decide to partake in the Candlelight Processional, consider pointing out the American Sign Language interpreter to your kid(s). Each interpreter tends to perform the show with much enthusiasm, and it is a great way to help your family witness how others around you may experience this spectacle.

The 2023 Candlelight Processional celebrity narrators:

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

The Best Food for Kids of the EPCOT Festival of the Holidays

Can we just acknowledge how tough it can be to get your kids to eat? That’s part of why I love festival time at EPCOT, which is practically every day of the year these days. Buying 3-4 food items from the festival booths is a great way to help your kid(s) try something different without spending money on a full meal. And, if you’re the type of parent who will eat literally anything like I am, then whatever they don’t eat is all yours to enjoy.

We also love the creative and festive sweet treats. As you can imagine, there is no shortage of options!

Treats at EPCOT Festival of the HOlidays
There are so many sweet treats at the Festival of the Holidays. We picked this up at Holiday Hearth Desserts at the Odyssey Pavilion.

The Holiday Kitchens at the EPCOT Festival of the Holidays:

  • American Holiday Table (American Adventure Pavilion)
  • Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany Pavilion)
  • Bubbles & Brine (near Port of Entry)
  • Char & Chop (near Disney Traders)
  • Holiday Hearth Desserts (The Odyssey Pavilion)
  • Holiday Sweets & Treats (near Port of Entry)
  • L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen (between the Morocco and France Pavilions)
  • Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexico Pavilion)
  • Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen (France Pavilion)
  • Nochebuena Cucina (near Test Track presented by Chevrolet)
  • Shanghai Holiday Kitchen (China Pavilion)
  • Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen (Japan Pavilion)
  • Swirled Showcase (near Port of Entry)
  • Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina (Morocco Pavilion)
  • Tuscany Holiday Kitchen (Italy Pavilion)
  • Wine & Wedge (near Disney Traders)
  • Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada Pavilion)


The EPCOT Holiday Cookie Stroll

Let’s not forget about a favorite tradition of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays – the Cookie Stroll! Visit each one of the five Holiday Kitchens that offers an eligible cookie and commemorate your visit with a stamp in your Festival Passport.

Once you’ve collected all 5 stamps, you can present your Festival Passport at Holiday Sweets & Treats to receive a special complimentary cookie inspired by the film Wish.


2023 Official Holiday Cookie Stroll Locations

  • Nochebuena Cocina: Spiced Chocolate Cookie
  • Yukon Holiday Kitchen: Snickerdoodle Cookie made with SNICKERS® bar pieces
  • L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen: Black and White Cookie (plant-based)
  • American Holiday Table: Gingerbread Cookie
  • Bavaria Holiday Kitchen: Linzer Cookie
  • Holiday Hearth Desserts: Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie
  • Sunshine Seasons: Jingle Sugar Cookie made with M&M’S® chocolate candies
  • Connections Café: Holiday Sugar Cookie

Pro Parenting Tip – You do not have to complete the EPCOT Cookie Stroll in one visit. Just complete it before the Festival of the Holidays ends on December 30, 2023 (and while supplies last).

Other NEW things to do with the kids during EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays

The Festival of the Holidays at EPCOT is jam-packed with fun and you may be tempted to push yourself to go all day long. If you haven’t been to EPCOT in a while, there have been some exciting new additions including the new Journey of Water Exhibit inspired by Moana.

And on December 5, the park also debuted the NEW Walt the Dreamer statue at the NEW World Celebration Gardens which is gorgeous at night as it lights up in gorgeous colors. Kids will love to play among the lights and older kids will definitely want to take a few pictures.

New Lights at World Celebration Gardens
World Celebration Gardens features plenty of seating areas where you can seek rest and at night, it lights up in gorgeous colors. Photo by Laura Byrne -2023.

Speaking of lights, you can also experience the NEW Luminous: The Symphony of Us fireworks display which also debuted on December 5. It is an incredible show with new music, effects, and fireworks that will leave you in awe and asking…how’d they do that?

There are also new character meet and greets including Asha from Wish- you can find her near the entrance to the World Showcase.


Things to Remember About the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

  • The fireworks show is usually not until 9:00 pm which can be tough on many kids. Pace yourself and take breaks.
  • Don’t forget to take time to stroll around some of the World Showcase Pavilions to view the decorations.
  • The holidays are a busy time at all Orlando theme parks. Get there early and do your best to remain patient.
  • Park Pass Reservations are required.

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