2021 Candlelight Processional Dates, Info & Tips

Candlelight NPH

Epcot’s Candlelight Processional will be held from late November through December 2021 at Walt Disney World. Here, we’ll cover its return, whether the dining package is worth the money, offer details about the choir, orchestra & narrators, and review this Christmas-time show. (Updated November 9, 2021.)

For those unfamiliar with it, Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World is the telling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator with music sung by a mass choir and performed by a 50-piece live orchestra. It’s one component of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, which also includes the World Showcase Storytellers and Holiday Kitchen food booths.

Walt Disney World announced that the Candlelight Processional will be back this year, November 26 through December 30, 2021 as part of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth. Not all details have been released, but here’s what we know so far…

Per Walt Disney World, since all of these performers (Cast Members, musicians, singers, and celebrity narrators) will be required to be fully vaccinated, this year Disney is not planning to host choirs from different community groups and schools.

Instead, to maintain the grandeur of the performance, Epcot is expanding the Cast Member choir to fill the stage with voices. Walt Disney World is optimistic that the guest choirs will be able to rejoin Candlelight Processional next year for this special holiday opportunity.

Additionally, the incomparable Voices of Liberty will form a living Christmas tree at center stage, flanked on either side by a choir of Cast Members pouring their hearts into every song. The Voices of Liberty plus a full orchestra and hearing the traditional Christmas story told by a celebrity narrator should really be something impressive–an experience unique to 2021 that likely won’t be repeated!

Let’s start by covering basic info about the 2021 Candlelight Processional. The performances are held in the America Gardens Theatre across from the American Adventure in World Showcase. There’s a reason one of the most popular events of the Christmas season at Walt Disney World is the Candlelight Processional at Epcot: it’s a beautiful show that many guests find to be a moving and spiritual experience.

Calling Candlelight Processional one of the most popular events is no exaggeration–long lines plus expensive dinner packages have sort of contributed to us being “over” Candlelight Processional. We have really enjoyed it in the past, but it’s something that is a huge hassle if you don’t have a dining package or don’t mind watching from outside the theater.

2021 Candlelight Processional Celebrity Narrator Schedule

candlelight-processional-epcot-whoppi-goldberg

Here’s the 2021 Candlelight Processional at Epcot narrator schedule:

  • Auli’i Cravalho – November 26 through November 28
  • Chita Rivera – November 29 through December 1
  • Jodi Benson – December 2 through December 4
  • Alton Fitzgerald White – December 5 through December 7
  • Bart Millard – December 8 through December 10
  • Lisa Ling – December 11 through December 13
  • Andy Garcia – December 14 through December 16
  • Ana Gasteyer – December 17 through December 19
  • Courtney B. Vance – December 20 through December 22
  • Steven Curtis Chapman – December 23 through December 25
  • Blair Underwood – December 26 through December 28
  • Pat Sajak – December 29 through December 30

Note that all of those “TBD” dates will have celebrity narrators announced at some point in the near future. Walt Disney World scrambled to add Candlelight Processional to the Christmas 2021 lineup, and the result is that everything is way behind schedule. There will not be “narrator-less” performances of Candlelight Processional.

2021 Candlelight Processional Dining Packages

Candlelight Processional Dining Packages are also returning, and can now be booked online. This year’s dining packages are scaled back dramatically, which has made them significantly more difficult to reserve. In fact, many people online early on the day they were released (including us!) were unable to book anything.

Fortunately, more availability has been released since then. Our hope is that this continues to happen as restaurants continue staffing up and filling more tables. Between that and cancellations (which occur regularly as people release extra reservations or change their plans), we’d recommend regularly refreshing the Candlelight Processional Dining Package page for availability.

You can choose from 4 table service restaurants in Epcot offering Candlelight Processional Dining Packages at lunch and dinner. Each package includes:

  • An appetizer, entrée and dessert or one (1) full buffet (where applicable), along with a non-alcoholic beverage
  • One (1) guaranteed seat per person to the Candlelight Processional held on the same day

Here’s a list of participating restaurants and dining package prices, which exclude tax and gratuity:

Adult
(ages 10 and up)
Child
(ages 3 to 9)
Biergarten Restaurant
Germany Pavilion
$62.00 $35.00
Coral Reef Restaurant
The Living Seas
$74.00 $25.00
Garden Grill Restaurant
The Land Pavilion
$71.00 $46.00
Rose & Crown Dining Room
United Kingdom Pavilion
$63.00 $25.00

We’re just happy to see Biergarten Restaurant make the cut. This is always our top recommendation thanks to its jovial Christmas atmosphere, music, and value for money. Read Our Christmas Feast at Biergarten Restaurant for what the holiday time experience is like there.

If you’re wondering whether it might be worth doing plus some ideas for making the most of the Candlelight Processional Experience, we have some tips & tricks and a review in this post…

Tips

Note: many of these tips pertain to a normal year, when Candlelight Processional is announced in the spring, dining packages are available for roughly a dozen restaurants, and the bulk of seating is reserved for those who purchase the meals. Much of this is inaccurate for 2021–but will be again relevant for 2022 Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World.

While the America Gardens Theater where Candlelight Processional is held can seat over 1,000 guests per performance, between 50% and 75% of these seats are reserved for guests who purchase dinner packages. All of these dinner package guests are guaranteed seats in one of the three nightly Candlelight Processional performances.

Bookings for Candlelight Processional Dining Packages typically open several months before the performances. Breakfast dining packages are typically offered for Candlelight Processional, in addition to 2 new restaurants (outside of Epcot) also offering dining packages. More dining package availability will likely bump that number up above 75% in terms of reserved seats.

This means that the standby line for most performances gets super long. Ridiculously long. So long that if you’re a tourist or visiting on vacation, you should get a lunch or dinner package for the Candlelight Processional, especially when a popular narrator is presenting. When Neil Patrick Harris last presented, we saw people lining up for the 5 p.m. performance of Candlelight Processional around noon!

The dinner packages include a meal consisting of an appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage (or full buffet “experience,” where applicable) and reserved seating at one performance of Candlelight Processional. For what you get, the dining package is not that expensive (or at least the cost is not badly inflated).

Your time on vacation is definitely worth the price. I know the three hours or so of waiting in line that we’ve saved by purchasing the dining package has been well worth it–to us at least!

john-o-hurley-seinfeld-candlelight-processional-epcot

If you elect not to do the dinner package and don’t want to wait hours in line, you have a couple of options. First, show up to the standby line ~15 minutes before the last show of the night starts. Depending upon the popularity of the narrator and how busy Epcot is that evening, sometimes this last showing will still have seating. If not, at least you didn’t waste a ton of time standing in line.

In many scenarios, that strategy will work just fine. You may not have the best seats, but you’ll still be able to see the show and have a seat. If the theatre is already full, we recommend trying to watch from the walkway behind the America Gardens Theatre.

Cast Members will manage crowd flow back here in the walkway, but you can simply stand behind the theater (not in the walkway) and watch the show. This is actually a really good view for Candlelight Processional. Think of it as sitting (well, standing) in the balcony of the America Garden Theatre.

While we strongly recommend the dining package for those wanting good, guaranteed seats, if you’re on a tight budget or Candlelight Processional is not as much of a “must-do,” we think those strategies are good alternatives to save a bit of money, which can be spent on other holiday entertainment at Walt Disney World.

The following are the locations participating in the dining package for the Candlelight Processional. As you can see, our recommendations are for Biergarten or Via Napoli. 

  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Norway
  • Ale & Compass – Yacht Club Resort (outside of Epcot)
  • Biergarten – Germany (Our Pick for Value/Christmas Ambiance)
  • Chefs de France – France
  • Coral Reef– The Seas
  • Garden Grill – The Land
  • La Hacienda de San Angel – Mexico
  • Nine Dragons Restaurant – China
  • Restaurant Marrakesh – Morocco
  • Rose and Crown – UK
  • San Angel Inn – Mexico
  • Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining – Japan
  • Trattoria Al Forno – BoardWalk (outside of Epcot)
  • Tutto Italia – Italy
  • Via Napoli – Italy (Our Pick for Value/Quality)

For more information and our thoughts on these restaurants, check out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews.

In a normal year, Candlelight Dining Packages for breakfast start at $40 plus tax per person for adults and $23 plus tax per child, ages 3-9. Candlelight Dining Packages for lunch and dinner start at $52 plus tax per person for adults and $19 plus tax per child. Note that those are the starting prices. Expect those options to return for 2022 Candlelight Processional, and for prices to increase!

Actual prices vary, with the most expensive option being dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel, which is $85 per adult. Click here to book the Candlelight Processional dining package, or you can call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

In addition to favoring certain restaurants, we also prefer certain narrators (and some, like Neil Patrick Harris, are much more popular in general). We note below some of the more popular narrators among Disney guests.

Review

A lot of people absolutely love the Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World. We like it quite a bit, but we aren’t absolutely gung-ho, call Disney Dining the very first day the packages go on sale, crazy about it like some people. It’s very beautiful, but definitely not the highlight of our trip.

Our favorite narrator for Candlelight Processional is Neil Patrick Harris. We’ve seen him a couple of times, and as NPH fans, we enjoyed this. I cannot say he really invigorated the show–it’s pretty solemn irrespective of host–but it was cool to see him.

A few years ago, we booked the package, but it was mostly to see John O’Hurley, or J. Petermann, as fellow Seinfeld fans may know him. More recently, we went to see Whoopi Goldberg, because seating was included with our D23 Magic & Merriment event package. Whoopi Goldberg was okay, but on the “cool scale” she just doesn’t stack up to NPH or J. Petermann for us.

Overall, Candlelight Processional, at the bare minimum, has “do it at least once” status. Some people love it to the point that it’s their favorite Christmas offering at Walt Disney World. Others find it too dry and slow, and are not moved by the story. I don’t think it’s quite fair to compare Candlelight Processional to a Christmas Eve church service, and I think there’s a good chance that even those who are not religious will enjoy it.

You really don’t know until you try it–and in order to try it, you really should book one of the dinner packages. With that said, if your budget doesn’t allow for both Candlelight Processional and the Christmas Party, I’d recommend the latter over the Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages without hesitation.

For comprehensive tips for planning your Christmas-time trip to Walt Disney World, check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World. Additionally, you can download our free eBook, Vacation Kingdom at Christmas, which offers tips for visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday season. This eBook is 75+ pages, with 100+ photos, and tons of great recommendations & information! For more details on how to get this totally-free ebook, click here.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Are you a fan of Candlelight Processional? Which narrator have you seen for Candlelight Processional? Do you usually book the dining package or wait in line? Do you have any strategy for seeing Candlelight Processional without waiting in line? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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