It's the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? The Christmas TV
movies have already begun airing, Christmas music is playing on local
radio stations, the days are growing shorter, and the air outside is
The viewing options for Christmas movies and specials during November and December each year are overwhelming--even for me. Last year, I counted over 400 new Christmas and New Year's TV programs and movies released and this year is already well beyond last year's numbers. Let me help you with the details of where to find the best holiday programming for 2021. This is not an exhaustive list and new information is still being released. However, this is where you will find the majority of new holiday programming airing this year.
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Christmas TV Movies:
For many holiday movie fans, the Hallmark Channel is the
first name in Christmas TV movies. This year alone, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and their streaming platform Hallmark Movies NOW are debuting 41 new
Christmas TV movies, alongside many previously released classics from their archives. If you
didn't already know, the movie marathon has already begun--Hallmark started
Friday, October 22th--and continues all day and all night through the
of December. Hallmark typically debuts their new holiday movies on Friday, Saturday
nights. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries' new movies debut this year on Saturday nights. Hallmark Movies NOW streaming platform will debut their one new movie "Every Time a Bell Rings" on Nov. 18th.
The 41 new movies by Hallmark this year are across all three platforms (Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Movies NOW). If you don't have cable TV, you can also watch Hallmark Christmas movies on several apps including Frndly, YouTubeTV, and Hallmark Movies NOW.
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Lifetime is debuting 35 new Christmas TV movies in 2021 as well. I know, right? In order to stay competitive, Lifetime has scheduled their movies in a clever way. They don't start debuting movies until Nov. 12th, on Saturday and Sunday night. Then starting on Thanksgiving Night, they debut a new Christmas TV movie EVERY NIGHT until Christmas! EVERY NIGHT! Yes, every night. Check the schedule and see for yourself. No more reruns on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday nights.
HERE is a link to Lifetime's website with more info about their movies this year.
A new cable network rebranded this September as GAC Family is also jumping into the Christmas TV movie game. They are debuting 12 new movies this year--and one Christmas episode of the series When Hope Calls (a former Hallmark series picked up by GAC). There's a tremendous amount of buzz about these twelve new Christmas movies because GAC Family has worked with several production film companies to get their movies--the same companies that also make movies for Hallmark. So many of these GAC Family Christmas movies feature the same actors and creatives from other Hallmark Christmas movies.
If you don't have cable TV to watch GAC Family, you can also use the app Frndly to watch their new Christmas movies. HERE is a link to the GAC family website with more info on their movies and schedule.
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The streaming service Netflix is all-in on Christmas movies and series this year too. They have 12 new movies, several Christmas series, and series' episodes. One of the things I love about Netflix is the ability to click on a Christmas movie within the platform before it's even released and save it in your queue. Thanks Netflix! The movie Love Hard has already been released and I've seen it. It's definitely made for people who love Christmas movies--hint hint.
BET and their streaming platform BET+ are committed to Christmas TV movies. After a huge success last year, they are debuting 8 new Christmas movies in 2021. Click HERE for a list of those movies.
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As usual UpTV is also debuting a full schedule of Christmas TV movies too. For those that love Christmas movies about royalty, this year UpTV is premiering the third movie in the franchise Christmas with a Prince: The Royal Baby. Click HERE for a link to the cable channel's website with more info about their Christmas TV movies.
OWN usually debuts several Christmas TV movies and this year is no different. They have three new movies and The Big Holiday Food Fight series--a cooking competition show, hosted by comedian Kim Whitley. I like those holiday cooking competition series--this should be good. OWN's holiday programming airs on Tuesday nights too which makes it easier to watch. There are TOO MANY holiday programs on Sunday nights--amiright?
Ion Television is debuting four new Christmas movies and airing their previously released ones too. You can find these movies airing on Sunday nights, Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Click HERE for the Ion TV schedule on their website.
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Freeform is once again airing their 25 Days of Christmas programming block. Unlike in years past, I don't see any new original programming on the schedule this year. That's okay--Freeform is owned by Disney, and ABC and Disney+ are premiering new programming.
AMC is also airing their Best Christmas Ever holiday programming block again this year. It too doesn't include any new original programming--just classic Christmas movies and TV specials. The streaming subscription service AMC+ will debut the movie Silent Night starring Keira Knightley starting Dec. 3rd.
And, the Food Network is rolling out their holiday programming too. Their baking competition series have already started, including Holiday Baking Champions, Holiday Wars, Christmas Cookie Challenge, The Big Bake: Holiday, and more. These series are mostly airing on Mondays and Thursday, but repeat throughout the week.
Of course, the major networks have their holiday programming as well. NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center airs Wed. Dec. 1st. The annual tree lighting ceremony and live concert always airs the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving. That TV special is followed this year by Kelly Clarkson Presents When Christmas Comes Around music special. The annual Saturday Night Live Christmas clip show airs this year on Thursday, Dec. 16th. And, the 1946 movie It's a Wonderful Life will once again air on Christmas Eve.
ABC's holiday programming includes the home decorating series The Great Christmas Light Fight which starts Sunday, Nov. 28th. The annual concert special The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration is also airing on Nov. 28th, and CMA Country Christmas is Monday Nov. 29th. On Dec. 6th, ABC is airing A Very Boy Band Holiday music special. And on Dec. 31st, ABC airs the annual music concert and countdown to the New Year on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest. Among these new programs, ABC is also showing older favorites including Rankin/Bass' Santa Claus is Comin' to Town on Nov. 26th, Olaf's Frozen Adventure and Toy Story That Time Forgot on Dec. 2nd. And, on Christmas Eve, ABC is showing Shrek the Halls and both Prep & Landing TV specials. Lots of good stuff.
On CBS, viewers can once again enjoy Rankin/Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on Nov. 22nd, the animated classics Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns airing on Nov. 26th, two Robbie the Reindeer animated specials and The Story of Santa Claus will air on Nov. 27th, the annual music concert that pays tribute to adoptive and foster families A Home for the Holidays and The National Tree Lighting Ceremony and concert are on Dec. 5th. Dec. 31st there's a New Year's music special New Year's Eve Live: Nashville's Big Bash. This year, CBS is also debuting two new Christmas TV movies: A Christmas Proposal on Dec. 12th, and Christmas Takes Flight on Dec. 19th. It's been a long while since CBS premiered holiday TV movies so this is a must-see experience.
And, A Charlie Brown Christmas which is available on Apple+ will also air on PBS this year on Dec. 19th.
The CW is debuting a TV movie The Walton's Homecoming--a remake of the 1971 TV movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story airing on Nov. 28th. On Dec. 1st, they're airing Beebo Saves Christmas, Christmas Around the World on Dec. 8th, The Greatest Holiday Commercials on Dec. 12th, and more.
Diginets are also airing classic Christmas episodes from the past. Me TV is once again airing holiday blocks of Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes from its list of programs. See the Me TV schedule here.
Stay close to my social media links for more announcements about fantastic holiday programming. If you'd like reminders of the new Christmas TV movie debuts and other exciting holiday TV programming, don't forget to follow my Facebook page Tis The Season TV and/or my tweets at @TisTheSeasonTV.
Where on the metaphorical television dial do you watch your favorite Christmas movies and specials? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing
in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can
be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare:
Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story"
was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the
encyclopedia for a 2022 release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website:
*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com