epcot international festival of the holidays

Confessions: until I started looking into things for my late November trip, I had no clue there was a holiday festival. Seriously! I must have been living under a rock, because apparently it has been happening for years. Well… you learn something new every day, huh?

As with the rest of the Epcot festivals (International Festival of the Arts, International Flower & Garden Festival, and International Food & Wine Festival), the Festival of the Holidays is not a hard ticket event. If you have a regular Epcot admission pass, you can go to the Festival – just make your way  back toward the World Showcase and look for the booths.

I did not pick up a special map with the Festival booths marked, but I did get a Festival passport to mark off the things we purchased… and to get my stamps for the Holiday Cookie Stroll (you’ll be able to read a separate post with more detail here, when it is finally written). We all know the best part of any of the Festivals is the food. Yummy.

Everyone else was already at Epcot when I flew down, so when I finally made it over there I had a bite to eat at Sunshine Seasons and then met up with them as they were getting off Soarin’, and then we headed on back to the World Showcase to get this Festival started. But… I had made a massive rookie mistake. I knew, I knew, better than to eat a lot at Sunshine Seasons… but y’all I was starving. I had been up since something ridiculous like 4:30am and had not yet eaten, aside from airplane pretzels. I was so focused on getting to Epcot that I didn’t want to stop anywhere to get a bite to eat. So of course… I totally overate. Totally. Massively. Which affected my Festival game greatly…

During the holidays, when you are walking from Future World down to the International Gateway, there is this absolutely gigantic Christmas tree. It was simply stunning, and I really wanted a picture in front of it. Sadly, it was one of those things that just didn’t happen, but let me tell you, this Christmas tree was pure Christmas magic. It was so tall, and beautifully decorated.

The very first booths are also right by the Christmas tree. I did stop to get my first cookie, but none of us needed any other food from the Feast of the Three Kings. We were all kind of on a mission, or a couple missions. I wanted the cookies, and we all wanted certain other food and/or drinks.

Up next was Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen and we were all looking forward to drinks here. Reading the menus before the trip, I couldn’t decide what to get here. Both the Noche Buena Margarita and the La Posada Margarita sounded really good. Nikki & Jenny got the Noche Buena and I got the La Posada. Normally I love horchata but… this just didn’t really do it for me. I managed to finish about half of it, and gave the rest away.

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La Posada Margarita

While sipping on our drinks we kept making our way around the World. The next booth was Shanghai Holiday Kitchen, where Nikki & Jenny grabbed snacks. I decided I’d rather just take a bite or two of theirs, since at that point I was still trying to choke down the La Posada. One of them ordered the Mongolian Beef Bao Bun, which we all agreed looked tasty (and they said was tasty), but it didn’t look like any of us imagined it would.

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Mongolian Beef Bao Bun

In the Germany pavilion was Bavaria Holiday Kitchen. We really racked up the noshes here. All 3 of us chose the Cider Flight, and I got the Peppermint Sugar Cookie. Nikki’s other friend, Katie, ordered the Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl and shared with us.

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After Bavaria we came to Italy’s Tuscany Holiday Kitchen. I was still pretty full from Sunshine Seasons, a couple of cookies, and the cider flight. Everyone else ordered while I sat there regretting having lunch at all. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of their food. Jenny was taking pictures and I figured I would just steal hers, and then of course I forgot to get them from her. My bad! But someone, I think it was Katie, got the Mozzarella in Carrozza and everyone agreed it was pretty much Best Ever.

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We stopped into the American pavilion building to listen to the Voices of Liberty as Dickens Carolers. It gave us all a chance to sit down and rest, as well as a chance to let all that food settle so we could prepare for the rest of the World Showcase. Oh man, they can sing! It was beautiful. I also really enjoyed the Washington, D.C. gingerbread. I mean come on, that’s pure gingerbread house goals. And look at the cap of the Washington Monument!

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Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol Building… made out of gingerbread!

Outside the actual building, we found the American Holiday Kitchen. I grabbed another cookie and a glass of Shipyard Eggnog White Porter. It certainly wasn’t the worst beer I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t exactly what I would call great, either. If you hate eggnog (like my entire crazy family) you would definitely despise this one, but I actually really love eggnog. This just didn’t really do it for me. I’ve never found a beer at any American festival booth that I love. Sorry America…

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This is an old picture but it just shows continuity in despising the offerings from the America booth. Also, PSA: you probably don’t want to follow that IG account, it is not Disney focused and has lots and lots of NSFW language (I swear a lot when working out).

Japan had the next booth: Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen. I started to get in line, but decided to come back later instead. Another rookie mistake… I didn’t go back anywhere, really. I had run a half marathon the week before, a half that I was in no way, shape, or form prepared for, and my foot was paying the price. Walking miles at Disney wasn’t helping…

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But… we moved on, not knowing that I was going to wimp out early, and we came to Morocco. The Sapphire Holiday Kitchen had what is definitely one of the best foods I have ever eaten at Disney: the Grilled Lamb Kefta Kebab. This was so delicious! The description said the dressing had cilantro, and y’all just don’t even understand how much I loathe cilantro… but I couldn’t taste it at all. The lamb was cooked to perfection, I always love olives, and the dressing had a delicious kick to it. I could eat this every single day for a month and not get sick of it.

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Next up on the Festival path was L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen, with another cookie. I also really wanted to try the Potato Knish. And I was not disappointed. Mmm, both of those were so delicious.

 

When we made it to France, Nikki stopped to get a drink. The acrobats were out and Jenny wanted to watch them. We all did, really.

 

We pretty much ignored the United Kingdom pavilion to get to Canada. At the Yukon Holiday Kitchen I got my last cookie needed to be eligible for the completer cookie, and we all got the Icewine Flight. I had spent weeks drooling over pictures of the seared salmon, but I was just still too full to think about it.

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After Canada, I hit up Holiday Sweets and Treats to get my completer cookie, and then Nikki, Katie, and I made our way to Mouse Gear to pick up our Goofy Annual Passholder magnets. A pretty epic downpour started up and we just sat around for a while waiting for it to die down. Once it did, we headed back to the World Showcase to meet back up with everyone. I only made it to about Bavaria before I said my foot hurt too much and I needed to head back to the room.

There was so much more to the Festival of the Holidays that I didn’t get to experience. The combination of flying in that morning, injured foot, rain, etc. all left me wanting more time to really explore some of the other offerings. We did listen to the carolers, but there were other performances that I didn’t get to see. I can’t wait to go back for another visit to this Festival.

QotD: Have you been to the Festival of the Holidays?

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