The Candlelight season has arrived at Disney Parks. At Walt Disney World the ceremony is three times nightly (5:00, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m.) at Epcot through December 30th. At Disneyland it will be held Dec 7 & 8 in Town Square (5:30pm & 7:45pm).
The Candlelight Processional has been a tradition at Disneyland since 1958. The show is approximately an hour and features an orchestra, choir, solo performers, and a guest narrator. The story of Christmas is read and Christmas songs are performed between segments.
It was started as a request of Walt Disney to Dr. Charles Hirt (a friend and Chairman of the Choral Music Department at the University of Southern California) at Disneyland. In 1971 when the Magic Kingdom opened in Walt Disney World the tradition started on Main Street as well. Traditionally the ceremony ran one weekend a year and only a couple of shows per evening. In 1993 the Walt Disney World show moved to EPCOT where it has been since and over the years continued to add nights. The Disneyland version tried out the Fantasyland Theater in 1998 but returned to Main Street in 1999. At Walt Disney World they run three shows a night most nights from around Thanksgiving through Christmas. At Disneyland in 2012 they expanded to run for 20 nights from December 1st through 20th. In 2013 the show returned to its traditional format of two nights (two shows a night) on the West coast.
Here are some video clips from both coasts I have taken over the years:
Geek thoughts: I have always enjoyed this annual event and over the years attended quite a few at both resorts. If you have an opportunity and enjoy Christmas music the events are worth the time the wait. One question I have gotten over the years is if we have seen it on one coast is it worth the time on the other. I would say yes. The musical arrangements are different and there are some other slight differences. I prefer the Disneyland Town Square setting vs the Epcot theater. The show is more impressive to me in that setting. Note that at Disneyland only invited guests get seats and everyone else is in standby around the perimeter and almost everyone has to stand. When choosing a stand by location pay attention to site lines if you want to see.. you can hear really well throughout Town Square and Main Street. Also note if you want to be in Town Square and close to the seats you will have to invest several hours to wait most years. At Epcot you can usually get a standing spot on a walk up basis. Standby seats in the theater are harder to come by and take a time investment. Walt Disney World also offers a very popular dining package that includes a seat.. but be warned guests line up well in advance because not all seats are “equal”.
Here is the 2019 DisneyParks Webcast of an Epcot Candlelight Ceremony:
Related Disneygeek.com Links:
- 2018 Disneyland Candlelight pictures & video
- 2018 7:45pm Disneyland Candlelight Pictures & Video
- 2017 Disneyland Candlelight pictures & video
- 2016 Disneyland Candlelight pictures & video
- 2014 Disneyland Candlelight pictures & video
- 2013 Disneyland Candlelight pictures & video
- 2013 Epcot Candlelight pictures & video
- Disneyland Candlelight Pictures
I had several requests for what songs are in the show. Below are the listings for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, these are from prior to 2014 but give an idea of the show:
Disneyland Candlelight Processional Show Order/Song List :
- O Little Town of Bethlehem (in G unison)
- The First Noel (in D, unison)
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing (in F, unison)
- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. (in B-Flat, unison)
- Sing Praise to Him, Our Lord (arr. Jim Christensen)
- The First Noel (arr. Don Neufeld, Azusa Pacific University)
- Candlelight Carol (arr. John Rutter)
- He is Born (arr. Roger Wagner)
- Angels We Have Heard on High (arr Eskew/Healey)
- What Child is This (arr. Ken Whitcomb)
- We Three Kings (arr. Eskew/Healey)
- Sing Noel (arr. Brent Pierce)
- Joy to the World (arr. Bob Krogstadt)
- Silent Night (arr. Fred Bock)
- One Solitary Life Underscore
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- Hallelujah Chorus (Handel’s Messiah)
- Candlelight Recessional (Up on the House Top)
- Sleigh Ride
Walt Disney World Show Order:
- Shout For Joy
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- Away in a Manager
- O Holy Night
- Angels From The Realms Of Glory
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- Rejoice With Exceeding Great Joy/We Three Kings
- What Child Is This?
- Do You Hear What I Hear?
- Silent Night
- Joy To The World
- The Hallelujah Chorus
A couple related Candlelight News Stories:
- For more pictures and video of the Candlelight Ceremonies visit our holiday section
- A video piece from the Orange County Register on the Cast Member Choir
Thank you to Mark for the Disneyland show order information which was accurate as of 2014 showing, the WDW info is from the CD that was released in 1997 Both have changed slightly but this listing gives an idea of the show.