All the Holiday TV Specials, Movies and Series to Watch This Season


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With upcoming holiday celebrations set to look slightly different than in years past, TV and streaming have stepped in to fill the gaps with an abundance of new winter-themed programming, including original movies, series and specials.

From perennial classics like NBC’s “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” and ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney” to sure-to-be new favorites like “The Princess Switch: Switched Again” and “Happiest Season,” here is everything to watch to get into the holiday spirit this year.

SPECIALS

The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration

“A Saturday Night Live Thanksgiving Special” (NBC)

Wednesday, Nov. 25, 9-11 p.m.

Many of the Thanksgiving-themed sketches over the course of “SNL’s” illustrious 46-season history will delight audiences.

“The 94th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” (NBC)

Thursday, Nov. 26, 9 a.m.-noon (repeat at 2 p.m.)

The tradition continues with a reimagined celebration that will safely bring the magic of the parade to Herald Square with giant floats and Broadway performers as families watch from the comfort of their homes.

“The National Dog Show” (NBC)

Thursday, Nov. 26, 12-2 p.m. (repeat Nov. 28 at 8 p.m.)

Man’s best friend gets the spotlight as over 175 breeds will compete in the annual canine competition.

“The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration” (ABC)

Thursday, Nov. 26, 9-11 p.m.

Kicking off the holiday season on ABC for its fifth consecutive year, this magical celebration on Thanksgiving night features a look back on spectacular celebrity musical performances among a flurry of Disney holiday entertainment. The holiday special is a collaboration by Disney Parks, ABC and Endeavor Content’s Film 45.

“Illumination Presents Minions Holiday Special” (NBC)

Friday, Nov. 27, 8:30-9 p.m.

Illumination presents four new mini-movie escapades along with special guest appearances from some of Illumination’s beloved characters from their “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Sing” franchises.

“The Disney Holiday Singalong” (ABC)

Monday, Nov. 30, 8-9 p.m.

The one-hour festive musical event will feature star-studded performances, animated on-screen lyrics, more favorite Disney melodies and classic holiday songs.

“CMA Country Christmas” (ABC)

Monday, Nov. 30, 9-10 p.m.

“CMA Country Christmas” rings in the holiday season annually with a show full of festive classics and one-of-a-kind musical performances. The event is filmed in Nashville and airs each holiday season on ABC.

“Our OWN Christmas” (OWN)

Tuesday, December 1 at 9-10:00 p.m.

Hosted by Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin, the one-hour special will feature uplifting holiday moments, surprise acts of giving as well as festive performances by iconic Grammy Award-winning gospel singers Kierra Sheard, Erica Campbell, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard and Le’Andria Johnson, legendary award-winning gospel group The Clark Sisters, and many more.

“88th Annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center” (NBC)

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 8-10 p.m.

For eight decades the tree-lighting ceremony has been one of the iconic New York City holiday moments with millions watching across the country in the comfort and safety of their homes.

“Radio City Christmas Spectacular” (NBC)

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 10-11 p.m.

The world famous Rockettes perform in the iconic show that entertains the thousands of theatergoers who visit the famed Rockefeller Center venue each holiday season.

“My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood” (HBO Max)

Thursday, Dec. 3

Underwood performs a combination of beloved traditional favorites celebrating the joy and hopefulness of the holiday, as well as new original material from her first ever full-length Christmas album My Gift, which was released earlier this fall. On the special, she is accompanied by her band, as well as a live orchestra and choir, conducted by Underwood’s longtime friend, Emmy® Award-winning musical director Rickey Minor.

“The Voice Holiday Celebration” (NBC)

Thursday, Dec. 3, 8-9 p.m. (repeat Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 22 at 8 p.m.)

An array of “Voice” coaches past and present, some music superstars and many beloved artists from the “Voice” family perform holiday classics and popular modern favorites. Plus, Season 19 coaches, Blake, Kelly, John and Gwen share some of their favorite holiday traditions and memories.

“Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special” (Apple TV+)

Friday, Dec. 3

The new special is set to premiere on the heels of the 25th anniversary of Carey’s iconic No. 1 holiday anthem “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and will feature the legendary icon Carey and a star-studded lineup of surprise guest appearances, in a magical holiday journey to enliven the Christmas spirit around the world. The innovative special will combine music, dancing and animation driven by a universally heartwarming story that brings the world together.

“A Holly Dolly Christmas” (CBS)

Sunday, Dec. 6, 8:30-9:30 p.m.

Christmas is Dolly Parton’s favorite time of year, and America’s beloved entertainer is excited to share some much needed joy and holiday cheer at the end of this challenging year. Performing from an intimate, candlelit set, Dolly brings both powerful, faith-filled hymns and light-hearted holiday classics to viewers, sharing personal Christmas stories and faith-based recollections of the season, interspersed with songs from her new, record-breaking #1 holiday album A Holly Dolly Christmas.

“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical!” (NBC)

Wednesday, Dec. 9, 8-10 p.m. (repeat Dec. 21 at 8 p.m.)

Matthew Morrison will star as the curmudgeonly creature in a stage production from London’s Troubadour Theatre.

“High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special” (Disney+)

Friday, Dec. 11

“High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special” will feature music from the upcoming second season, in addition to stars Joshua Bassett, Olivia Rodrigo, Matt Cornett, Sofia Wylie, Larry Saperstein, Julia Lester, Dara Reneé, Frankie Rodriguez, Joe Serafini, Mark St. Cyr and Kate Reinders sharing their childhood holiday memories, best – and most embarrassing! – gifts, favorite traditions and family photos.

“A Saturday Night Live Christmas Special” (NBC)

Thursday, Dec. 16, 9-11 p.m. (repeat Dec. 22 at 9 p.m.)

Santa brings the laughs as “SNL” goes into the time capsule for two hours of Christmas-themed sketches.

“A Creepshow Holiday Special” (Shudder)

Friday, Dec. 18

In the holiday themed, hour-long episode, “Shapeshifters Anonymous,” fearing he is a murderer, an anxious man searches for answers for his “unique condition” from an unusual support group. Starring Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect) and Adam Pally (The Mindy Project), the special is written and directed by Creepshow showrunner Greg Nicotero, based on a short story by J.A. Konrath (Last Call).

“Global Citizen Prize” (NBC)

Saturday, Dec. 19, 8-9 p.m.

The second annual event features special musical collaborations, will celebrate individuals taking action to end extreme poverty and present notable presenter and powerful video packages telling revealing stories of action and impact.

“Christmas Eve Mass” (NBC)

Tuesday, Dec. 24, 11:30 p.m.-1 a.m.

Viewers will be able to watch the Pope Francis-led mass from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

“The Rose Parade’s New Year’s Celebration Presented By Honda” (NBC)

Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

A look at what makes the iconic Pasadena parade such a national landmark to bring in the new year.

SERIES

Dash and Lily Troy Iwata

“Dash & Lily” (Netflix)

Tuesday, Nov. 10

A whirlwind Holiday romance builds as cynical Dash and optimistic Lily trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations all across New York City, finding they have more in common with each other than they would have expected. The series is based on the young adult book series Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares from the New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

“Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas” (Netflix)

Wednesday, Nov. 18

Benjamin Bradley, best known as Mr. Christmas, is a veteran in the interior design industry with a healthy obsession with the holiday season. For Mr. Christmas, the holidays are all about celebrating love, life, family and friends through meaningful traditions. In the new Netflix series Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas, Bradley takes you behind the scenes as he puts his design expertise and vast Christmas collection to good use. Equipped with lights, garlands, and enough tinsel to blanket the North Pole, he and his team of elves work around the clock to bring holiday cheer to families and communities deserving of a home makeover for the most joyous time of year. Mr. Christmas invites viewers along for the ride to kick off the holiday season and get inspired to take their own home decorating and traditions to the next level.

“12 Dates of Christmas” (HBO Max)

Thursday, Nov. 26

The romance begins at a fairytale castle in Austria where ten magical wintery dates await – from ugly sweater parties and an intriguing masquerade ball to après-ski activities, these dates are sure to send temperatures soaring. As in all great rom-coms, our romantic leads’ paths to love won’t be easy. Just as they make connections, new love interests arrive, adding plenty of twists, turns – and hopefully – holiday cheer. Along the way, they’ll face regular elimination ceremonies, complicated blasts from the past and no shortage of conflicting emotions. After bringing someone home for the holidays, they must decide whether to commit or walk away forever by the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

“Sugar Rush Christmas” Season 2 (Netflix)

Friday, Nov. 27

This competition series challenges bakers to create holiday treats that look festive and taste amazing — all against a ticking clock.

“The Holiday Movies That Made Us” (Netflix)

Tuesday, Dec. 1

This in-depth look at two iconic holiday movies (“Elf,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas”) uses behind-the-scenes footage and cast and crew interviews.

“The Great British Baking Show: Holidays” Season 3 (Netflix)

Friday, Dec. 4

‘Tis the season for eight returning bakers to vie for the holiday crown as they race to make wondrous winter treats.

“The Great Christmas Light Fight” (ABC)

Wednesday, Dec. 9, 8-9 p.m.

America’s brightest houses bring joy to the world with the help of celebrity judges – lifestyle expert Carter Oosterhouse and famed interior designer Taniya Nayak. All isn’t always calm, but all is definitely bright as the Christmas classic takes viewers across the country to the most elaborate and awe-inspiring holiday displays in the nation. This holiday season, we will once again see four fantastic families face off in each one-hour episode and compete to win $50,000 should they “sleigh” the competition. Taking Christmas decorating to another level, the Heavyweights special will return for its third year featuring a first-ever parade of one-of-a-kind sparkling floats and a mile-long drive-through with over a million synchronized lights, to name a few, that viewers will never forget.

MOVIES

Happiest season Kristen Stewart

(Note: In addition to the below, Lifetime and Hallmark are offering a combined total of 70 original films this year. See the full schedule for Lifetime here and Hallmark here.)

“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)

Friday, Nov. 13

A musical adventure and a visual spectacle for the ages, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a wholly fresh and spirited family holiday event. Set in the gloriously vibrant town of Cobbleton, the film follows legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker) whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. But when his trusted apprentice (Emmy winner Keegan-Michael Key) steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter (newcomer Madalen Mills) — and a long-forgotten invention — to heal old wounds and reawaken the magic within.

“The Princess Switch: Switched Again” (Netflix)

Thursday, Nov. 19

When Duchess Margaret unexpectedly inherits the throne to Montenaro and hits a rough patch with boyfriend Kevin, it’s up to her double Princess Stacy of Belgravia to get these star-crossed lovers back together… but the course of true love is complicated by the appearance of a handsome royal who’s intent on stealing Margaret’s heart. Throw in the unexpected arrival of Margaret’s outrageous party girl cousin Fiona, a third look-alike who has ambitions of her own, and you have the recipe for Christmas triple trouble!

“Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square” (Netflix)

Sunday, Nov. 22

A rich and nasty woman, Regina Fuller, returns to her small hometown after her father’s death to evict everyone and sell the land to a mall developer – right before Christmas. However, after listening to stories of the local townsfolk, reconnecting with an old love, and accepting the guidance of an actual angel, Regina starts to have a change of heart. This is the story about family, love, and how a small town’s Christmas spirit can warm even the coldest of hearts. Starring Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, Jenifer Lewis, Treat Williams, and directed and choreographed by three-time Emmy and Golden Globe winner Debbie Allen. Featuring 14 original songs with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton.

“The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two” (Netflix)

Wednesday, Nov. 25

It’s been two years since siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) saved Christmas, and a lot has changed. Kate, now a cynical teenager, is reluctantly spending Christmas in Cancun with her mom’s new boyfriend and his son Jack (Jahzir Bruno). Unwilling to accept this new version of her family, Kate decides to run away. But when a mysterious, magical troublemaker named Belsnickel threatens to destroy the North Pole and end Christmas for good, Kate and Jack are unexpectedly pulled into a new adventure with Santa Claus (Kurt Russell). Written and directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter) and co-starring Goldie Hawn, The Christmas Chronicles 2 is an action-packed adventure for the whole family that’s full of heart, humor, and holiday spirit.

“Happiest Season” (Hulu)

Wednesday, Nov. 25

Meeting your girlfriend’s family for the first time can be tough. Planning to propose at her family’s annual Christmas dinner — until you realize that they don’t even know she’s gay — is even harder. When Abby (Kristen Stewart) learns that Harper (Mackenzie Davis) has kept their relationship a secret from her family, she begins to question the girlfriend she thought she knew. HAPPIEST SEASON is a holiday romantic comedy that hilariously captures the range of emotions tied to wanting your family’s acceptance, being true to yourself, and trying not to ruin Christmas.

“Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” (Netflix)

Friday, Nov. 27

From Shondaland, Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker spotlights the career of award-winning entertainer Debbie Allen and follows her group of young dancers as they prepare for Allen’s annual “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” production.

“Godmothered” (Disney+)

Friday, Dec. 4

Set at Christmas time, “Godmothered” is a comedy about Eleanor, a young, inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training (Jillian Bell) who upon hearing that her chosen profession is facing extinction, decides to show the world that people still need fairy godmothers. Finding a mislaid letter from a 10-year-old girl in distress, Eleanor tracks her down and discovers that the girl, Mackenzie, is now a 40-year-old single mom (Isla Fisher) working at a news station in Boston. Having lost her husband several years earlier, Mackenzie has all but given up on the idea of “Happily Ever After,” but Eleanor is bound and determined to give Mackenzie a happiness makeover, whether she likes it or not.

“A Christmas For Mary” (OWN)

Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 9 p.m.

Vivica A. Fox stars with Jackée Harry and Morgan Dixon (“Being Mary Jane”) in a holiday tale of rediscovery and renewal when up-and-coming journalist Lena Jones (Dixon) is tasked with delivering a story by Christmas that will wow her boss, magazine editor Vivian Vaye (Fox), who is dangling a promotion to head writer over Lena’s head. Intrigued by a portrait of a mysterious woman painted by her late grandfather, Lena journeys to the small town of Pineville, where with her mother, Deborah’s (Harry) blessing and support, Lena uncovers a long-ago forgotten tale of young love that not only uncovers cherished memories of the past, but also inspires Lena to follow her heart and find her own true love … and her perfect Christmas story.

“Dashing in December” (Paramount Network)

Sunday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m.

“Dashing in December” follows Wyatt (Porte, Baby Daddy), a sophisticated, New York City financier who returns home for the holidays in an effort to convince his mother, Deb (MacDowell, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Groundhog Day) to sell the family’s ranch and beloved magical Winter Wonderland attraction. In the midst of his mission, an unexpected romance ignites with the new ranch hand Heath (Di Pace, Fuller House) reawakening the spirit of Christmas. The film also stars Caroline Harris (Westworld) and Carlos Sanz (Stronger, Crank).

“Cooking Up Christmas” (OWN)

Tuesday, Decc 15 at 9 p.m.

Meagan Holder (“Pitch”) stars in this family-centric holiday story as Chloe, an Atlanta-based chef at a fine dining restaurant who gets fired just weeks before Christmas and reluctantly takes a job with pro baseball player Donovan Jackson (OWN’s “Greenleaf” star Lamman Rucker), who is a single dad of three needing a live-in-chef to get him through the holidays with the kids. Chloe only takes the job in order to save up enough capital to live out her dream of opening her own restaurant, but soon finds herself caught up in the ups and downs of the Jacksons encounter during her residency. Throughout the holiday season in the Jackson household the importance of family and Chloe’s good Southern cooking are two constants that remain. As Christmas comes to an end, Chloe discovers that her lifelong dream might finally come true… and that her heart has a mind of its own.

“First Christmas” (OWN)

Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 9 p.m.

Given up for adoption and placed in foster care at a young age, writer Halle Downing (Idara Victor, “Alita: Battle Angel”) receives the blessing of a lifetime when she is invited to spend Christmas in New Orleans with the biological family she never knew she had – The Moores. Halle’s grandmother “Memaw” (Tonea Stewart, “A Time to Kill”) welcomes the young woman with open arms, completely overwhelming Halle with emotion at the significance of finally finding her family. Extremely excited to meet her twin siblings Tiffany (Samantha Smith, “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins”) and Glenn (Mason Beauchamp, “NCIS: New Orleans”) along with younger brother Drew (Peyton Jackson, “Nobody’s Fool”) for the first time, Halle soon faces the hard reality that finding her place in this close-knit family is going to take longer than she thought, something that becomes particularly evident when she witnesses Tiffany’s apprehension about introducing her new girlfriend Paris (Amanda Tavarez, “Queen Sugar”) to the family for the first time. However, as Christmas approaches, Halle begins to gain perspective on the Moore family dynamic and ultimately comes to embrace and celebrate her first family holiday with a special gift that tells her she is right where she is supposed to be.

Story first appeared at TheWrap.com


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