Christmas TV Specials to Help You Get in the Holiday Spirit in 2023

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One of the easiest ways to get into the holiday spirit is by watching a Christmas special on TV. Whether it’s an old classic like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or a newer special like the one featuring Queen of Christmas herself Mariah Carey, leaning into the nostalgia and holiday cheesiness really helps kick off the holiday season.

So, if you’re looking for a TV special to watch this year—or wondering when one of your traditional favorites is going to air—you’ve come to the right place. As usual, there are a lot of Christmas specials scheduled this year. To narrow it down, the list below doesn’t include Christmas movies or ongoing Christmas-themed TV shows (ex. Holiday Baking Championship), but rather the one-off music, animated, parade, and other specials that pair perfectly with a mug of hot chocolate. Here’s what to watch and record this year.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thursday, November 23 – 8:30 a.m. – NBC and Peacock

Yes, it’s a Thanksgiving parade, but the grand finale is always Santa Claus as a symbol of the Christmas season beginning. It counts.


The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration

Sunday, November 26 – 8 p.m. – ABC

This musical special features performances taking place at the Disney resorts in Florida and Hawaii.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Monday, November 27 – 8 p.m. – CBS

This nearly 60-year-old Christmas stop-motion animation special is basically the classic of all classics. In addition to the usual CBS showing, it will also air on Freeform on December 3, December 4, December 20, December 21, December 24, and December 25.

Christmas in Rockefeller Center

Wednesday, November 29 – 8 p.m. – NBC and Peacock

You can watch the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree light up on November 29. This year, Kelly Clarkson is hosting the music-filled show.

Christmas at Graceland

Wednesday, November 29 – 10 p.m. (and again December 21 – 8 p.m.) – NBC and Peacock

The Elvis Presley-themed Christmas special Christmas at Graceland will feature artists performing songs by The King from his Tennessee home, Graceland.

Reindeer in Here

Saturday, December 2 – 8 p.m. – CBS

This newer animated special—it’s from 2022—is about a young reindeer who has to save Christmas with his friends.

Robbie the Reindeer

Saturday, December 2 – 9 p.m. – CBS

Make it an animated reindeer-filled evening with Robbie the Reindeer, which airs the same night as Reindeer in Here. This one is about a reindeer training to compete to become one of the select few who lead Santa’s sleigh.

Christmas at the Opry

Thursday, December 7 – 8 p.m. (and again December 20 – 9 p.m.) – NBC

This country-themed special will be hosted by Wynonna Judd and feature country stars performing Christmas songs and other hits at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

Barry Manilow’s A Very Barry Christmas

Monday, December 11 – 10 p.m. (and again December 20 – 8 p.m.) – NBC

Barry Manilow will perform his own hit songs, such as “Mandy” and “Copacabana” alongside Christmas favorites for his special.

CMA Country Christmas

Thursday, December 14 – 8 p.m. – ABC

For the 14th year, this music special will feature country stars singings holiday classics.

A Saturday Night Live Christmas Special

Thursday, December 14 – 8 p.m. (and again December 23 – 9 p.m.) – NBC

Saturday Night Live‘s Christmas special—which initially airs on a Thursday, mind you—will feature well-known Christmas sketches from the show’s nearly 50-year history.

The National Christmas Tree Lighting

Friday, December 15 – 8 p.m. – CBS

The National Christmas Tree Lighting takes place on November 30 in Washington, D.C., but the ceremony, featuring music performances, will air on CBS on December 15.

Frosty the Snowman

Saturday, December 16 – 9 p.m. – CBS

Another longtime holiday classic is Frosty the Snowman, which debuted in 1969. It will be followed by Frosty Returns, which airs at 9:30 p.m. Like Rudolph, the special will also be shown on Freeform on December 3, December 4, December 20, December 21, December 24, and December 25.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Saturday, December 16 and Sunday December 17 – Apple TV+

A Charlie Brown Christmas unfortunately no longer airs on TV, but we’d be remiss to not mention this classic alongside Rudolph and Frosty. This year, the special will be available for free for non-subscribers on Apple TV+ on December 16 and December 17. (Subscribers can watch whenever they want.)


Prep & Landing

Tuesday, December 19 – 8 p.m. – ABC

The Disney animated special Prep & Landing will air on Dec. 19. It’s about two elves trying to help guide Santa’s sleigh through a snowstorm. The sequel, Prep & Landing 2: Naughty vs. Nice, will air immediately afterward.

iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2023

Thursday, December 21 – 8 p.m. – ABC

As usual, this special will feature performances from some of the biggest pop stars around that were recorded during the Jingle Ball Tour. Some of the musicians who participated in this year’s tour are Olivia Rodrigo, SZA, Niall Horan, and Nicki Minaj.

Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas

Thursday, December 21 – 9 p.m. – NBC

Dolly Parton’s 2022 special, Mountain Magic Christmas, will air again this year. The movie musical also features Miley Cyrus, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Fallon, and other stars.

The 25th Annual A Home For The Holidays

Friday, December 22 – 8 p.m. – CBS

The special A Home For the Holidays promotes adoption and foster care alongside musical performances.

Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade

Monday, December 25 – 10 a.m. (EST)/9 a.m. (PST) – ABC

This year marks the 40th year of Disney’s Christmas Day parade. Take it all in while opening gifts and eating something yummy on Christmas morning.

Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to All!

Monday, December 25 – 9 p.m. – CBS

Mariah Carey’s 2022 concert special, Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to All!, will air on CBS once again this year—appropriately, on Christmas night. It’s only right that she close out the whole thing.

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