The holidays are kicking into full swing and people all over the world will be celebrating. What better way to recognize the multiple traditions and cultural celebrations than by visiting Epcot at Walt Disney World. The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays showcases diversity at its finest and gives us all a taste of how others celebrate the holidays.
I was invited to attend a media preview event. The opinions in this post are 100% mine and mine alone. This post also contains affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
Walt Disney World does it right year after year. They know that their guests come from all over the globe and celebrate the holidays in different ways. In an effort to celebrate that, Imagineers created an event a few years ago that honored a few of the too-many-to-count traditions that take place this time of the year. The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is a beautiful blend of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and other celebrations from around the world and brings all the excitement into one place for anyone and everyone to enjoy.
We were invited to preview some of the food and merchandise that will be featured at the 2019 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. What an honor to be among such amazing writers and video professionals as we tasted some of the cultural bites and asked questions about specialty merchandise.
Let’s Talk about the Festival a bit
This year’s festival will kick off on November 29th and run through December 30th. It seems to be a little shorter this year, but it will be a concentrated event that will attract the masses for sure. There will be approximately fourteen holiday kitchens scattered throughout World Showcase, several merchandise booths to browse and costumed performers bringing time-honored traditions to life in nearly every country pavilion.
There will be something for every age group to enjoy and timeless memories to create while exploring Epcot this holiday season. Curious as to what we were able to enjoy during our preview event? Let’s take a stroll together…
1 – Savory Tastes and Bites
Countries from all around the world will feature some of their more festive bites and libations during the festival. During the event, we were given the opportunity to try a few of the scrumptious bites from select holiday kitchens. Some of those featured were the L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen, the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen and The Yukon Holiday Kitchen.
My absolute favorite was the Potato Latke with Sour Cream from the L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen. However, I will admit that the Pork Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce and Spaetzle was a close second. It brought me back to the time I spent in Germany as a teenager.
When it comes to drink offerings, we had several options from which to choose outside of the standard Coca-Cola® brand beverages and water. These options included spiced wine, beer, eggnog or a chocolate peppermint shake. The latter two were offered in both non-alcoholic and alcoholic fashion.
Hubby and I sipped on a good variety of the drinks – within reason, of course. I liked the spiced wine, but my favorite by far was the Chocolate Peppermint Shake with Whipped Cream Vodka. Yum!!!! This can be found at the Holiday Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen at Promenade Refreshments.
Which one sounds good to you?
2 – Merchandise
Just take all my money now, Disney! LOL. Disney just knows how to make Guests smile ~ and crave everything we see. From jerseys and hoodies to ornaments and cookie jars, the merchandise being showcased this holiday season is going to knock your socks off!
While I confess I was a HUGE fan of last year’s holiday Magic Band, this year’s band is adorable in its own right.
Now, I’m also a HUGE pin collector, so these are going be high on my must-have list this season.
There is also going to be a brand new scavenger hunt available with adorable and unique gifts for those who complete it and bring it back to the redemption center. Littles who visit Epcot during the festivals love these hunts! It familiarizes them with the various countries, keeps them entertained and brings them a little pixie dust at the end.
3 – Floral and Gift
Have you ever had to travel during the holidays and leave the celebration behind? Well, if you or loved ones are traveling to Walt Disney World during this holiday season, there’s no reason to do so. Disney Floral & Gifts have the perfect way to dress up a Disney Resort room by creating personalized stockings and baskets and having them delivered during your or a loved ones holiday vacation on property.
In fact, even Christmas trees can be ordered and placed in Disney Resort rooms to add a little more spirit.
There are so many things from which to choose. All you have to do is go and check out their site to start getting excited – http://disneyworld.disneyfloralandgifts.com/
4 – Well, Why Not Throw A Little Frozen 2 Merch Into The Mix
With the arrival of Frozen 2 in theaters happening at the same time as our event, we were given the opportunity to see an assortment of epic movie merchandise! Whether your Little (or you) fancies the plushes, dolls, shirts, toys or jewelry, there is a plethora of merchandise featuring our favorite Frozen 2 characters.
I absolutely love these Alex and Ani bracelets! Not to mention, these Funko Pops! are awesome! I have two myself, but would love to collect them all!
Do you collect any of these?
5 – Entertainment
As part of the event, we were also given a taste of the entertainment that will be featured during the festival this year. I have to say, there is quite the array of talent being showcased this year. It’s certainly going to draw the attention of the crowds like you never expected.
From Mexico, we will hear Feliz Navidad and a variety of other holiday tunes from the mariachi band. While they sing, Guests will be entertained by festive dancers.
While the Chinese New Year isn’t celebrated until January, there will be an early celebration over in the China Pavilion. At scheduled times throughout the day, the Chinese Lion Dancers will perform.
Of course, JOYFUL! is back in action this holiday season with their gospel sound, ready to celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa! The energy and harmonies this group gives off are sooooo inspiring. I love hugging the stage to watch them perform.
In many countries around World Showcase, young and old alike will enjoy the stories told by the various Santa figures who visit. This is one of my favorite parts of the entire festival. Though I’m not a huge history buff at all, I do enjoy learning about and listening to the various traditions.
6 – But the LimeLight Lies With Candlelight…
Now, while I love listening to the various world traditions, I also adore the Candlelight Processional. This is a unique performance that occurs nightly throughout the festival of the holidays and draws crowds from literally all around the world. Celebrity narrators fly in to share the story of the Christ child’s birth while accompanied by a choir filled with high school choral students and Cast Members alike (our son will be a part of the choir again this year!). Celebrities include such names as Neil Patrick Harris, Gary Senise and Pat Sajack. This year, newcomer Lisa Ling will join the amazing cast of celebrities.
7 – Your delicious mission – should you choose to accept it..
Oh, this will be fun! Hubby and I did this last year and we look forward to the challenge again. For the second year in a row, Epcot will host a Holiday Cookie Stroll, featuring five cookies around World Showcase.
How does this work? Inside the Festival Passport, Guests will find five official cookie stroll locations. At each location, Guests will have the opportunity to purchase one of the five cookies and receive a stamp in their Passport in return. Once all five stamps have been collected, Guests will bring their completed Passport to the Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen in order to receive a complimentary / congratulatory Santa Mickey Sugar Cookie!
Where are the official Cookie Stroll Locations this year?
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen at the Germany Pavilion. This will be the Linzer Cookie.
- American Holiday Table at the America Pavilion. Here, you can find the Gingerbread Cookie.
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen at the Canada Pavilion. Oh, they have my favorite – the Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie.
- Feast of the Three Kings near the Mexico Pavilion. Pick up a Chocolate Crinkle Cookie at this location.
- L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen between the Morocco and France Pavilions. Last, but not least, you can purchase a Black-and-White Cookie here.
If you just can’t eat all five (or SIX) in one night, you can always pick up a Holiday Cookie Stroll jar to hold them until you are ready to enjoy.
All in all
No matter what time of the year, Epcot festivals are amazing. They provide Guests with a tremendous number of things to enjoy and explore. The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is no different. It allows Guests to experience a variety of cultural celebrations that happen around this time of year. Whether Hanukkah, the Chinese New Year (a little early), Christmas or Kwanzaa, it’s a time when we can all agree that celebrating life, giving with cheerful hearts and cherishing our individual and unique heritage is a universal blessing.
If you’re coming this way for the holiday season, be sure to walk the Promenade and enjoy all that World Showcase has to offer. Expand your horizons, learn something new and celebrate the holidays with the entire world this season.
Have you read our Dating Around World Showcase series? Our 11 Dates Around World Showcase: Leaving Footprints in Epcot
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