With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the holidays are swinging into full gear at Walt Disney World. While Magic Kingdom has Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Hollywood Studios has the Osborne Lights, Epcot offers the most diverse array of holiday offerings at Disney World. Here’s a rundown on how to get into the spirit of the season at Epcot’s Holidays Around the World, which runs from November 28 to December 29, 2014.

Hear the Holiday Stories of the World Showcase

Santa - Epcot Holidays Around the World

One of the most unique aspects of touring Epcot during the holiday season is seeing storytellers from around the world share their culture’s holiday customs. These are mainly performed outside, similar to the regular entertainment lineup at the World Showcase. As you make you’re way around the World Showcase lagoon, you’re bound to stumble upon one of these performances. However, I would recommend grabbing a times guide on your way into the park and make a point of seeing a few of the stories. Overall, I find the presentations fascinating, well done, and festive. Finding out about the holiday traditions of the World Showcase nations might become a holiday tradition for your family.Japan - Epcot Holidays Around the World

Here’s the lineup of Holiday Storytellers at the World Showcase, including Disney’s description:

  • Mexico: “¡Feliz Navidad! Join mariachis and dancers as they bring color and excitement to the music, dances and traditions of a holiday fiesta.”
  • Norway: “Spend time with Sigrid and learn about Julenissen, the Christmas Gnome.”
  • China: “Feast your eyes on the colorful Chinese Lion Dance, which brings good fortune and happiness to all during major celebrations like the Lunar New Year and Lantern Festival.”
  • Germany: “Listen as Helga tells the story of the first Christmas tree and the tale of her first Nutcracker.”
  • Italy: “Meet the kind-hearted witch La Befana who arrives on the eve of the Epiphany to grant gifts to good children.”
  • America: “Share your Christmas wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus (November 29 to December 24, 2014), enjoy Hanukkah traditions and experience the spirit of Kwanzaa. Plus, treat your ears to the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers—an outstanding a cappella group that sings a special repertoire of classic songs.”
  • Japan: “Hear the fascinating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year.”
  • Morocco: “Come! Take a journey through the seasons of holidays in Morocco, where celebrations are ‘the spice of life.'”
  • France: “Discover the magic of Père Noël and the joy of the season through a Christmas letter from a child.”
  • UK: “Delve into the vivid stories of Father Christmas, dating back to 15th-century England.”
  • Canada: “Follow the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs on a musical tour through the customs of the Great White North.”

Get your fill of Holiday Treats

Italy Food Booth - Epcot Holidays Around the World

It’s a holiday themed mini-Food and Wine Festival! Yes, it seems that Epcot cannot throw a special event without including some sort of specialty food. Not that I’m complaining. Our holiday gatherings center around sharing a meal. What better way to get into the holiday spirit than tasting some of the traditional treats at each country? Most of these bites tend to be on the sweet side, although there are a couple of savory options in the mix. Here’s a sampling of what will be offered this year.

Promenade Refreshments – Turkey Waffle (Sweet Potato Waffle with Roast Turkey)

La Cantina de San Angel (Mexico) – Sweet Tamales

Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe (Norway) – Traditional Rice Cream

Joy of Tea (China) – Kaikouxiao (Fried Cakes)

Germany – Glühwein (spiced wine) and stollen fruit cake

Italy Gelato Kiosk – Panettone (sweet loaf of bread), moscato wine, and hot chocolate.

Sugar and Spice Bakery (America) – Peppermint bark, hot chocolate, chocolate chunk and sugar cookies, hot apple cider.

Kabuki Cafe (Japan) – Teriyaki chicken karaage (crispy fried chicken)

L’Artisan des Glaces (France) – Gingerbread ice cream

Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie (France) – Buche de noel au chocolate (chocolate cake log)

Rose and Crown Beer Cart (UK) – Hot Applejack Cider with whiskey

Canada Popcorn Cart – Pecan Maple Bark

Enjoy Live Musical Performances

Candlelight Processional - Epcot Holidays Around the World

The Candlelight Processional is a must do every year I visit Disney World during the holidays. A celebrity narrator tells the Christmas story accompanied by a live choir and 50-piece orchestra at the America Gardens Theatre. The show is spectacular and extremely popular. I recommend showing up very early to snag a seat, or go with a dinner package to secure your spot. Check out this year’s Candlelight Processional Lineup and our tips for the event.

Over at Future World, “Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season” takes place on the Fountain Stage. The group D’Vine Voices blend traditional holiday gospel music with jazz, R&B, and urban music several times a day.

IllumiNations: Peace on Earth Finale

IllumiNations - Epcot Holidays Around the World

Each night, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth adds a four and a half minute finale after the conclusion of the regular fireworks show. Set to “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and featuring a touching narration by Walter Cronkite, this finale is truly one of the most awesome sights at Walt Disney World. Find a good spot, and be sure to stick to the very end. The final ten seconds are the most intense barrage of fireworks I’ve ever seen.

Happy Holidays

That concludes our round-up of the special holiday offerings at Epcot this year. What are your favorite things to do at Epcot during the holidays? I’d definitely love to find out. Let me know in the comments below!