When to watch ‘Rudolph,’ ‘The Polar Express,’ ‘A Christmas Story Live’ and more holiday specials

There are almost 30 chances to catch a holiday movie or special on TV this season.
Movie Stills DB
Movie Stills DB
Published Nov. 22, 2017

'Tis the season for a TV schedule packed with holiday specials and Christmas classics.

We've already been seeing Christmas movies and commercials since early November, but the days following Thanksgiving are when all the networks kick into high gear.

From almost 50-year-old stop motion classics and Dr. Seuss favorites to pop music specials and tree lighting ceremonies, there's television for everyone this season.

Check your local listings for more movies, specials and up-to-date schedules.


Disney's Fairytale Weddings: Holiday Magic: Freeform airs the second special following couples who get their dream weddings at Disney parks, this time with holiday themes. 8 p.m. Dec. 11, Freeform

Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic: A behind-the-scenes look at how Disney parks bring the holidays to life with decorations and special events. 8 p.m. Dec. 18, Freeform

A Very Pentatonix Christmas Special: The a capella group returns with more holiday turns alongside Jennifer Hudson, Jay Leno and Darci Lynne Farmer. 10 p.m. Nov. 27, NBC

Christmas in Rockefeller Center: The annual tree lighting gala of the iconic tree in New York City includes performances by Brett Eldredge, Jennifer Nettles, Leslie Odom Jr., Pentatonix, Gwen Stefani and more. 8 p.m. Nov. 29, NBC

Taraji's White Hot Holidays: Taraji P. Henson (Empire, Hidden Figures) hosts the third annual special with holiday classics performed by Chaka Khan, Ciara, Faith Evans, Fergie, Leslie Odom Jr., Salt-N-Pepa and more. 8 p.m. Dec. 14, Fox

CMA Country Christmas: Reba McEntire hosts the eighth holiday celebration with festive performances from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House by Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and more. 8 p.m. Nov. 27, ABC

Masters of Illusion: Christmas Magic: Dean Cain hosts this special featuring magicians Jarrett and Raja, Jonathan Pendragon, Ed Alonzo, Jibrizy, Les Arnold, Murray SawChuck, Farrell Dillon, Tommy Wind, Titou, Naathan Phan and Greg Gleason. 9 p.m. Dec. 1, CW

Great Christmas Light Fight: New season, more families vying for the chance to win the coveted Christmas light trophy by displaying some of the most elaborate holiday decorating in the country. New season starts 8 p.m. Dec. 2, ABC

Bob's Burgers special: This year's Christmas episode is an hour-long musical featuring Adam Driver. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, Fox

86th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade: Dr. Oz serves as Grand Marshal for the parade down Hollywood Boulevard. Includes a special 40th anniversary performance by The Village People, CeeLo Green, Ruben Studdard and others. 8 p.m. Dec. 15, CW

A Christmas Story Live!: Andy Walken stars as young Ralphie with Maya Rudolph as his mother and Chris Diamantopolous as his father. Matthew Broderick is the narrator/adult Ralphie, Jane Krakowski is his teacher and Ana Gasteyer is neighbor Mrs. Schwartz. 7 p.m. Dec. 17, Fox

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time: This year's annual Christmas special marks the time to say farewell to Peter Capaldi and hello to Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor. 9 p.m. Dec. 25, BBC America

The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration: Julianne Hough, Nick Lachey and Jesse Palmer host a holiday celebration from Walt Disney World in Orlando with performances by Ciara, Darius Rucker, Fifth Harmony and more. 9 p.m. Nov. 30, ABC


A Charlie Brown Christmas: Charlie Brown gets a cynical attitude about Christmas commercialism while his pals plan a holiday pageant to get into the spirit. 8 p.m. Nov. 30, ABC

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town: The stop-motion animated feature tells the story of how Kris Kringle became the gift-giving Santa Claus. 8 p.m. Nov. 24; 10:55 p.m. Dec. 21 ABC

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Another stop-motion classic, exploring how the most famous reindeer of all got his name and saved Christmas. 8 p.m. Nov. 28, CBS

Frosty the Snowman: The story of how one snowman came to life one day with the help of some magic left in an old silk hat. 8 p.m. Nov. 24; 9 p.m. Dec. 9, CBS

It's a Wonderful Life: George Bailey wishes he had never been born, and an angel grants him that wish one Christmas. Then he realizes how much his life really matters to his friends and family. 8 p.m. Dec. 9; 8 p.m. Dec. 24 NBC

A Christmas Story: All Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun. He finally gets it, and almost shoots his eye out. 8 p.m. Dec. 24; all-day Dec. 25, TBS

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: No matter how hard he tries, nothing goes right for Clark Griswold this holiday season, but it sure is memorable. 7 p.m. Dec. 1; 10:45 p.m. Dec. 9; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10; 8:50 p.m. Dec. 14; 8:50 p.m. Dec. 19; 6:40 p.m. Dec. 20, Freeform

And everything else

Frozen: The Disney retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen with more earworm songs and an adorable talking snowman who loves summer. 8 p.m. Dec. 10, ABC; 8:15 p.m. Dec. 17, Freeform

Disney's A Christmas Carol: Jim Carrey voices the miserly old Scrooge in this animated retelling of Charles Dickens' classic story. 4:45 p.m. Dec. 7, Freeform

Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Jim Carrey steals the show as the mean, green one. 9:10 p.m. Dec. 2; 9:15 p.m. Dec. 16; 6:35 p.m. Dec. 24, Freeform

The Santa Clause: Tim Allen accidentally kills Santa Claus, and then becomes the jolly old elf himself. 8:45 p.m. Dec. 3; 8:50 p.m. Dec. 12; 6:40 p.m. Dec. 13; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22 Freeform

Elf: Will Ferrell is Buddy the elf, a human accidentally raised by Santa's elves who returns to New York City to meet his real father. 9:15 p.m. Dec. 1; 6:40 p.m. Dec. 4; 6:50 p.m. Dec. 7; 9:20 p.m. Dec. 15; 6:45 p.m. Dec. 25, Freeform

The Polar Express: After a young boy loses his belief in Santa Claus, a stunning train shows up outside his home to whisk him away to the North Pole. 11:50 p.m. Dec. 1; 8:55 p.m. Dec. 5; 6:45 p.m. Dec. 6; 9 p.m. Dec. 11; 6:40 p.m. Dec. 12; 8:50 p.m. Dec. 21 Freeform

Shrek the Halls: With his and Fiona's kids still infants, Shrek gets a little holiday help with Christmas stories from Donkey, Gingy and Puss in Boots. 8 p.m. Dec. 7, ABC

Contact Chelsea Tatham at Follow @chelseatatham.


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