The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is over, so — Next! — it’s time for the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. That includes more food and wine, so it’s basically the same sort of festival but with more strings of lights and jingly bells.
Now, before you start putting on your war gear and asking why it isn’t called the Epcot International Festival of the Christmas you should know that there are plenty of other holidays celebrated at this time of year and they’re all represented here. For example, there’s L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen in recognition of Hanukkah (which starts Sunday, by the way) and there’s, um…well, that’s pretty much it. There’s a nod to the Lunar New Year observed by some Asian countries, but considering that the next Lunar New Year isn’t until Feb. 5 and the Epcot festival ends Jan. 30, so it’s a stretch )Epcot will already be into Festival of the Arts mode by then). (Kwanzaa is represented with music on the Fountain View Stage.)
But it’s still not all just Christmas. You’ll find Las Posadas, a Mexican and Latin America tradition; and Feast of the Three Kings, which technically also isn’t until after the festival ends, but work with us here, folks.
Mostly it’s a showcase for the way Christmas is celebrated in different countries and cultures, especially with food.
I was invited to a media preview of some of the dishes being served this year. Let’s start with L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen because it’s serving some of the best food that I sampled. It has Pastrami, made in house (or made in park, if you will) served on marbled rye with a spicy pickle and mustard. Very nicely done. There’s also a Potato Knish with a bit of herbed sour cream. I’ve never been much of a knishanado but this one was just fine.
I also liked the Queso Fresco-stuffed Arepa topped with shrimp and avocado that can be found at the Feast of the Three Kings marketplace between Mexico and Canada. (Isn’t the U.S. supposed to be between Mexico and Canada?)
I really liked the Tamal de Camarón that I got at the Las Posadas stand. It was a hefty serving (at $6.65 it should be) and was covered in a delicious mole roja.
Much touting was done of the new Holiday Cookie Stroll. This involves you finding and purchasing five specific cookies and verifying said purchases with a stamp in your Festival Passport. Then you show those stamps at the Sweets and Treats booth and you’ll get — another cookie! This time with milk. And you’re under no obligation to leave the cookie and milk for Santa Claus. Or Father Christmas. Or Pere Noel, depending on your nationality.
Besides the food and beverages — there’s an Egg Cream at L‘Chaim and eggs are being offered in nog versions at various booths — there is storytelling and music, including the popular Candlelight Processional. (In a first, the Dec. 4 Processional, narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, will be live-streamed at 8:10 p.m. at Disney Parks Blog.)
Holiday Kitchens serve from noon until 8 p.m. through the festival. Admission to Epcot is required.
Attendees to the media event were offered admission to Epcot, food and beverage samplings and a gift card for food and merchandise purchases.