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.