Disneyland Candlelight is a most special time on Main Street, U.S.A. when a mass choir sings traditional Christmas hymns and a celebrity narrator reads the Christmas story!
Disneyland Candlelight 2017
This year, performances are scheduled twice nightly on Saturday, December 2nd and Sunday, December 3rd, 2017. The celebrity narrator is Chris Hemsworth, Thor himself!
Unofficial Schedule (subject to change)—
5:20 p.m. – The first processional begins.
5:30 p.m. – The first ceremony begins at Town Square.
7:35 p.m. – The second processional begins.
7:45 p.m. – The second ceremony begins at Town Square.
More about Candlelight at Disneyland
A Disneyland® tradition that dates back to 1958, the Candlelight Ceremony and Processional is performed under the stars on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland® Park every year during the Christmas holiday season.
This 45-minute holiday spectacular is a musical retelling of the story of “The First Christmas” through song and scripture, and features a mass choir as the centerpiece of the show. The Disneyland® Symphony Orchestra, fanfare trumpets, handbell ringers and a guest celebrity narrator will join the choir in this joyous holiday tradition. The Candlelight Ceremony has featured a host of outstanding celebrity narrators in the past, including James Earl Jones, Cary Grant, Mickey Rooney, Marie Osmond, Dick Van Dyke, Jon Voight and Gary Sinise just to name just a few. (disneylandevents.com)
The roots of the Candlelight Processional began in 1956 with the Christmas Bowl. It was originally a choral festival. 1958 marked the first year it became a processional and 800 singers followed the parade. The following year in 1961, a narrator was added and it has continued that tradition ever since as they tell the story of Christmas. (ht: DAPs Magic)
“… performances are by invitation only, as they have been since 1958, when Walt Disney first held these private celebrations to thank partners in the community for their support throughout the year.” (Disney Parks Blog)
The celebrity narrator in 2016 was Once Upon a Time star Ginnifer Goodwin. 2015 celebrity narrators were Geena Davis and Lana Parrilla. In 2012, Candlelight had 20 nights of performance, instead of the usual 2 nights, with narrators: Kurt Russell, Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dick Van Dyke, Marcia Gay Harden, Patricia Heaton, Molly Ringwald, Dennis Haysbert [ht: Jan N.]
Other celebrity narrators over the years, include: Morgan Freeman, Gary Sinise, James Earl Jones, Louis Gossett, Jr., Marie Osmond, Jane Seymour, Tom Skerritt, John Stamos, Gregory Peck, Olympia Dukakis, Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Cary Grant, John Wayne, Pat and Shirley Boone, Buddy Ebsen, Howard Keel, John Forsythe, Michael Landon, Rock Hudson, Ed Asner, Dennis Morgan
Videos of Candlelight Processional
- 2016 Candlelight with Gennifer Goodwin (DAPs Magic)
- 2015 Candlelight with Lana Parrilla (DAPs Magic)
- 2015 Candlelight with Geena Davis (DAPs Magic)
- 2014 Candlelight with Beau Bridges (DAPs Magic)
- 2013 Candlelight with Blair Underwood (MouseSteps)
- 2013 Candlelight with Kurt Russell (mouseinfo.com)
- 2012 Candlelight with Dennis Haysbert (DAPs Magic)
- 2011 Candlelight with Gary Sinise (DAPs Magic) [with John Sawoski on keyboards]
- 2010 Candlelight with Tom Skerritt (DAPs Magic)
- 2009 Candlelight with Jon Voight (DAPs Magic)
- 2008 Candlelight with John Stamos (DAPs Magic)
- 2007 Candlelight with Jane Seymour (DAPs Magic)
- 2005 Candlelight with Dick Van Dyke (CrazyLegsMicechat)
- 1987 Candlelight with Howard Keel (George Finch) [broadcasted on The Disney Channel]
Memories and Reflections 2012 Disneyland Candlelight Ceremony Narrators – with Dick Van Dyke, Molly Ringwald and Kurt Russell (via Disney Parks)
Disneyland’s Candlelight Procession – Disneyland employees have their own volunteer cast choir that sings every year in the park’s annual holiday Candlelight Procession. (OC Register, 2012)Photos
- Photo album of 2012 Candlelight and some other years via Disneygeek.com
- Photo of 2011 Candlelight in Motion (extended exposure photo @ Disney Parks Blog)
- Photos tagged Candlelight at MouseWait.com
- first official photo of Disneyland Candlelight from 1959 (@ Disney Parks Blog)
Apply & Audition for Mass Choir
Choirs may audition to be part of the mass choir at the Disneyland® Park Candlelight Ceremony and Processional. Information is typically posted at disneylandevents.com in late August and choirs are selected by late September or early October.
Reviews + Tips
- disneytouristblog.com :: “It’s a much more intimate experience performed at the Main Street USA Train Station, and we far preferred the Disneyland version to the way it’s down at Epcot. Disneyland does not advertise Candlelight Processional much to the general public (reserved seats for the event are distributed by invitation), and guests who don’t have reserved seats often camp out from park opening until the time of Candlelight Processional in order to view it from nearby benches and other prime locations.”
- tf51d: “Wow what a production!! I didn’t realize this one was that radically different from the one in EPCOT! Both are fantastic, this one more of a major stage production, and the one in EPCOT more like you would hear in a Philharmonic! Being on Main Street, a assume you didn’t have seats? That’s one advantage of the one in EPCOT being at the American Gardens Theater.”
- RedlandsRedhead: “There are two performances on that Sat and Sun, in Town Square on Main Street. Only that area gets very crowded before, during, and after the performances. It is easiest to see the first performance, arriving early for a nice spot in the standing room areas, then afterwards, go enjoy the rest of the park. The Disneyland Railroad will not run during Candlelight, as the Main Street station’s stairs, platform, and roof are used for this impressive performance.”
- RedlandsRedhead: Although it’s not official yet, the dates of the Candlelight Processional are traditionally on the first Saturday and Sunday of December. … The Candlelight Processional is a tradition that was begun by Walt and is not heavily promoted. There are limited amount of somewhat pricey reserved seats in Town Square (flag pole area). Everyone else uses “standing room” to watch the performance. The cast members direct guests as to where they can stand. With reserved seats, which go fast, guests get dinner at a choice of Disneyland Resort restaurants. Prices vary according to restaurant. To stay in the park beyond the performance, guests using reserved seats must pay admission or have a premium annual pass.
- Tom Bricker: “If you plan on seeing Candlelight Processional, be prepared for some insanity on Main Street. There aren’t dinner packages or anything like at Epcot. It’s reserved seating for VIPs, and everyone else just has to fend for themselves, to so speak.”
- Laura Gilbreath (AllEars Disney Blogger): “Lee and I had the opportunity to see the processional on Sunday as guests of Disneyland Public Relations. … It had been a long time since I’d seen the Candlelight Processional at Disneyland – like many of you I am much more familiar with the one at Epcot. The Disneyland version is quite different: there are some aspects I like about it and somewhere I prefer Epcot’s version. But either way, it’s still a beautiful and moving experience. The massed choir is composed of Disneyland cast members and a number of other vocal groups such as high school and church choirs, mostly from southern California. … Unlike Epcot, there are no Voices of Liberty at Disneyland. A couple of the songs featured male and female soloists, but otherwise we heard the choir singing – and I really liked that.”
- disneytravelbabble: “Historically, only community leaders, Club 33 members, and others invited by Disney have had seating at Candlelight Processional, with park guests forced to camp out all day in hopes of getting a good spot in the standing-room sections or maybe even an unfilled seat at the last minute. This, plus the crowds attracted to Main Street by the show, has always sounded like a nightmare to me, so I assiduously avoided Candlelight weekend at Disneyland.”
- Holy Trinity Lutheran Church: ‘For the past 50 years, church and school choirs audition to join the mass 700+ member Choir by submitting audition tapes of recent recordings and one which Disney selects. This year, our Choir submitted the recording of our Sunday Anthem “Be Still” and Disney’s arrangement of “What Child is This.”’
- Craig Y shared 5 Tips for Candlelight Procession 2014 at Disneyland
via Yelp entry for Disneyland: Candlelight Ceremony and Processional ::
- Jocelyn V: “The show lasts about 45 minutes. Very moving and beautiful. I love the story of baby Jesus. You will see a lot of proud parents, families, friends cheering or singing along with the songs. … All in all, a great show. The decorations were amazing. The music was inspiring, beautiful, and so awesome. I couldn’t help but get a little teary eye. … Get there early so you have the best standing room.”
- “There is nothing like hearing the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel from such a large choir. It is also pure magic when the audience joins in on Silent Night. Such a sweet, moving performance. I love it!“
- “This was one of my all time favorite Christmas experiences. It put me in the Christmas spirit like nothing else. Everything about Candlelight is beautiful and magical. Hearing the choir sing was amazing! It’s a very large choir and the sound is so inspiring. The orchestra is perfection.“
Tips and tricks – via mousesavers.com ::
- MouseSavers reader Laura C writes: “There is limited seating in the town square in front of the train station. Those seats are reserved for VIP’s… However, there is plenty of room to stand and watch behind the seating. Still very enjoyable and didn’t cost us an extra dime. Hint: If you get there early enough you can stand on the porch of guest services and see right over the heads of everyone – awesome spot.”
- Another reader reports in 2011 that she watched the second performance from the seats, without paying a dime. There were VIPs who paid $2,500 for a package including reserved seats. Once the VIPs were seated up front, the Cast Members allowed guests from the waiting crowd to take any unfilled seats. So it’s possible to get lucky!
- Chris Hemsworth narrates Candlelight Ceremony and Processional at Disneyland (OC Register, 12/03/17)
- D23 (The Official Disney Fan Club)’s archive of Disney’s Candlelight Processional Through the Years
- Annual Candlelight Ceremony signals Christmas at Disneyland (OC Register, December 3, 2016)
- 2014 mass choir included H.S. Honor Choir at Calvary Chapel Christian School of Downey
- Which Bible version is used at Disneyland’s Candlelight (@ .BIBLE blog)
- Disneyland’s Candlelight lures crowds + Employees volunteer to keep Disney’s Candlelight sounding great (OC Register @ Dec. 5, 2012)
- Disneyland Candlelight Processional Music – 2013 blog post by gloucks7 about his 6th year of singing in the Disney Employee Choir – a little of the “behind the scenes”
- 2011 Disneyland Candlelight Processional mini review and photos by mre200200
- Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2012 (flowerstales.blogspot.com) has many photos and mention of a Candlelight tribute book
- LP Lotion’s Disneyland’s Candlelight Processional (LaughingPlace) has a roster of performers for 12/05/2012
- Walt Disney, Christmas, and Candlelight (keytothekingdombook.com)
- About.com’s California Travel mention of Candlelight Processional
- Music of Candlelight (HCF)
- 2003 Press Release about guest narrator Louis Gossett, Jr.
- 1977 Disneyland Candlelight souvenir program by Kevin Kidney via randar.com
- EPCOT at Walt Disney World (Orlando) also has a Christmas Candlelight Processional
- The History of Two Disney Christmas Traditions (mouseplanet.com) – a 2009 article by Wade Sampson, includes a list of the first 30 years of Candlelight Processional narrators—
Dating back to 1958, the Candlelight Procession & Ceremony is one of the oldest and beloved holiday traditions at Disneyland® Park. Every year, hundreds of choir members from local communities, each carrying a lighted candle, proceed down Main Street, U.S.A. to illuminate the area in front of the train station in Town Square. Amongst the hundreds of choir members are a group of Disney Cast Members and Employees who sing in the Cast Choir and help form a human Christmas tree. Up above the pinnacle of this human Christmas tree on the roof of the Main Street Train Station are eight fanfare trumpeters that make grandiose presence throughout the ceremony. Each year, a celebrity narrator shares the spirit of the holidays and reads the story of “The First Christmas” during the ceremony.
Information and event are subject to restrictions, change and cancellation without notice. Seats to all performances are limited and are subject to availability. (disneywebcontent.com)(photo credit: wdwinfo.com)One more thing
In case you’re wondering, since you scrolled down this far, this fan did get to see Candlelight in 2015, by accident. Didn’t know such a thing was going on. After coming home, I couldn’t find much online. That’s why I put this fan page together so more people enjoy the Christmas season at Disneyland.