The holiday season at the Walt Disney World Resort is an extra magical time of year, and one of our favorite places to celebrate is Epcot.
Sure, the Magic Kingdom has a sparkly castle and snow flurries on Main Street, but there's no place like Epcot to celebrate holiday traditions from around the world with food, decorations, and even storytelling.
Epcot's Christmas tree is located near the Fountain of Nations and each night during the holiday season guests can watch the tree lighting ceremony which is a perfect way to start your evening celebration at Epcot.
The real magic of the holidays at Epcot takes place in World Showcase because that's where you can experience the sights and sounds of holiday celebrations in all the pavilions. There's even a name for this annual celebration: Holidays Around the World. Let's take a short tour and see what's waiting for you during the holidays.
Beginning November 29, you can hear from storytellers in each World Showcase pavilion and learn about the traditions that are special to their home country. The storytellers perform until December 30 in a specified area in each country.
In Canada, Nowell the lumberjack weaves a tale about his journey to find Santa at Christmastime, and in the United Kingdom you'll find Father Christmas sharing traditions and stories. Pere Noel recreates the magic of Christmas in France and in Morocco guests will find Taarji sharing the customs of Ramadan and Ashura.
If you're visiting Japan's pavilion you'll find the Daruma talking about the Japanese New Year and in the American Adventure Mr. and Mrs. Claus are meeting guests who also have a chance to learn about Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. In Germany Helga is waiting to tell guests a tale about the first Christmas and the nutcracker while The Monkey King spins tales about the Chinese New Year in China's pavilion.
And in Norway you'll meet Sigrid and hear a tale of the Christmas Gnome and if you're visiting the Mexico pavilion you'll have a chance to celebrate with Los Tres Reyes (the Three Kings).
Epcot is also a great location for holiday shopping and one of our favorite places is Die Weihnachts Ecke (the Christmas Shop), home of the almost world-famous pickle ornament. Everyone needs a pickle ornament on their Christmas tree, and this is the place to find one in Epcot. While you're in Germany be sure to stop by the Prost! Kiosk for some mulled wine in a take home glass.
Over in the American Adventure pavilion you'll want to stop by Mrs. Claus' Bake Shop (which opens November 23) where you'll catch a glimpse of the life size gingerbread display. This is the only gingerbread display inside a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort so you don't want to miss it!
If you happen to be in Epcot on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day and you're looking for some holiday eats, the Biergarten in Germany is serving a German holiday buffet on Thanksgiving, and a traditional buffet with roasts on Christmas Day.
A good tip: our friends at the Disney Food Blog just released the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays 2013 and inside you'll find all the tips you need to have a magical holiday at the Walt Disney World Resort!
Another wonderful holiday tradition at Epcot is the Candlelight Processional where you'll hear a celebrity narrator tell the Christmas Story accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. This event is not-to-be-missed! If you want to make it extra special, we suggest booking a Candlelight Processional dining package for lunch or dinner.
You'll get a great meal at one of Epcot's dining locations and guaranteed seating at the Candlelight Processional and VIP seating for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. You can find all the information about the Candlelight Processional dining packages from our friends at the Disney Food Blog.
And speaking of IllumiNations, during the holiday season the fireworks and laser spectacular has a special holiday finale that you won't want to miss.
No matter what your plans are for the holiday season you want to make time in your travel plans to spend a day or two at Epcot and celebrate the holidays around the world. It will be a holiday experience you'll never forget.
What Are your favorite things to do at Epcot for the Holidays? Leave a comment below and share your stories!