The International Festival of the Holidays—A New Holiday Festival Debuts at Epcot

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Today Liliane Opsomer, coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids, reports on the new Epcot Festival of the Holidays and how the Christmas season is celebrated at Epcot.

Christmas at Epcot is one of the best experiences of the year and perfect for visiting the park with children. Many World Showcase countries host storytellers who delight guests with tales of their respective countries. Upon arriving at the park, pick up a Times Guide and plan to visit each and every one of the pavilions.

International Festival

During the during the Epcot Festival of Holidays , Guests can meet Father Christmas in the United Kingdom, Père Noël in France, and the mischievous Christmas Gnome Julenissen in Norway. This year the storytelling takes place fittingly next to Anna and Elsa’s Royal Sommerhus and includes lots of interaction for children.

Did you know that in Italy it is La Befana, the good witch, who brings gifts to children on Epiphany? You must visit with her, her tale is delightful.

At the German pavilion, the popular Helga no longer talks about the origins of the first Christmas tree, the advent calendar, and how the nutcracker became a staple in homes worldwide. Her tale has been replaced with performances by Margret Almer and the Bavarian Band.

This year at the Epcot Festival of Holidays, the American Pavilion is missing the Chanukah and Kwanzaa storytellers. At the Moroccan pavilion the tales of the Muslim festivals throughout the year has been replaced with Moroccan music and a belly dancers. Personally I miss all the storytellers as I feel that they played an important role in conveying the cultures of the World Showcase nations.

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At the Mexico pavilion, guests are in for a fiesta with mariachi players and dancers.

In addition to excellent music and dance there is storytelling with lots of guest interaction. I enjoyed this presentation the most.

At the end of the show all participants receive candy which was a big hit with the little tykes.

At the Canada pavilion, the Holiday Voyageurs explore holiday traditions with music. The China pavilion has the Lion Dancers perform as of November 24th. Over at the Japanese pavilion listen to the Daruma storyteller.

Don’t miss the Dickens Christmas Carols by the Voices of Liberty at the American pavilion. Their professional performance is moving and a most appropriate show for the season.

Santa and Mrs. Claus hold court at the American Pavilion and many families take this opportunity to have their Christmas card picture taken.

New this year is the International Festival of the Holidays. A total of 15 Holiday Kitchen kiosks serve up seasonal food and beverage specialties from several World Showcase nations.

Confit of Chermoula Chicken Drum with cinnamon and apple. Honey Briwat for desert and Poinsettia cocktail at Morocco Pavilion

 

My favorites: Beef tamale and Three Kings Bread at Fest of the Three Kings — Showcase Plaza

 

International Festival
French Canadian Touterie at the Yukon Holiday Kitchen — Canada Pavilion

 

No to be missed: Bûche de Noel at the Alsace Holiday Kitchen of the French Pavilion

Also new this year during the Epcot Festival of the Holidays is the Chip ’n’ Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree Scavenger Hunt. Armed with a map and stickers, available for $6.99 plus tax at select shops, you travel around World Showcase to find the locations of special Chip ’n’ Dale-themed ornaments. Put the corresponding stickers on your map; once done, visit Disney Traders to exchange your completed map for asset of buttons.

Musical acts galore at the Epcot Festival of the Holidays. Visit Future World’s Fountain Stage to listen to Gospel music by Joyful, or enjoy Hanukkah and Klezmer tunes performed by Mostly Kosher on a stage between Morocco and France.

Don’t miss the Candlelight Processional, featuring celebrity narrators such as Neil Patrick Harris, Warwick Davis, and Whoopi Goldberg—accompanied by a huge live choir and full orchestra.

End your day with IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, featuring a special holiday overlay.

Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Want to know what to expect at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the Christmas season during the Flurry of Fun? Find out in Liliane’s next report.

Have you experienced the Epcot Festival of the Holidays yet? What did you enjoy most? Share in the comments.

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