epcot-xmas

The holidays at EPCOT are a magical time. In less than two weeks the park goes from celebrating to food and wine to celebrating food and wine and Christmas. Although purists still miss the Lights of Winter, the park has made an effort to expand the Holidays Around the World offerings including food booths and entertainment.

The Holidays at EPCOT starts November 25th and runs through December 30th. Plus a big New Year’s Even celebration, of course:

Here’s what to look out for on your visit:

New Holidays Around the World Marketplaces – Explore what the holidays taste like around the globe at five new marketplaces Nov. 25 – Dec. 30. : indulge in duck confit and dumplings from the Alpine Haus Marketplace, celebrate with the shredded beef tamale from the Three Kings Feast Marketplace (open until Jan. 6), toast with Williams Punch from the Germany Marketplace, and more. More details about the holiday food options in our previous post.

Holidays Around the World entertainment – Enjoy the sights and sounds of the nations of World Showcase, as each country’s holiday heritage comes to life amid joyful music and time-honored traditions.

A cherished Epcot tradition, the Candlelight Processional captures the spirit of the season in the retelling of the Christmas story by celebrity narrators, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and choir. The Candlelight Processional is performed three times each evening, 5:00, 6:45 and 8 p.m. at America Gardens Theatre from Nov. 25-Dec. 30. Narrators in 2016 include Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Meredith Vieira, and Cal. Ripken, Jr.

In the spirit of the holidays, the sky-filling spectacle IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth adds a special seasonal finale Nov. 25-Dec.30. Holiday greetings in native languages from the countries of World Showcase join with the classic song “Let There be Peace on Earth” to add a heartwarming finish to IllumiNations.

Tips for a great holiday experience at EPCOT:

  • Plan time to see the storytellers. Each country tells the story of how it celebrates Christmas (or their winter holiday). The way the shows are timed it’s really impossible to see them all. So choose 3 to 4 you really want to see and then enjoy some food and other shows between those times.
  • Your best chance of seeing the Candlelight Processional without a long wait is the final show of the night. The best seats go to the dining packages. There are some affordable options if you’re willing to go the breakfast route.
  • Stay to the big bang at the end. The “Peace on Earth” fireworks tag is one of the best things going at EPCOT and its only available during the holidays.
  • Pack patience, the holidays can be incredibly busy, especially the week of Christmas and New Years. Take time to see the extra entertainers Disney puts out in the park. The Mariachi Cobre are one of my favorite acts

I’m looking forward to seeing all the Christmas decor throughout the park. What part of Holidays at EPCOT do you look forward to the most?

Previously: Guide to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

(Photo courtesy Disney. Garth Vaughan, photographer)