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The complete guide to this year's holiday TV specials

For those who’d rather not just put on the Yule Log

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Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Ali Goldstein/Netflix; Classic Media

Networks will be delivering holiday cheer this season with a bevy of big-screen favorites, made-for-TV movies, and joyful specials airing in December. Among the newly gift-wrapped entries: Fox’s White Hot Holidays, hosted by Empire stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard; Netflix’s A Very Murray Christmas, starring Bill Murray and a slew of celeb cameos; and ABC’s The Great British Bake Off adaptation, The Great Holiday Baking Show.

As for traditional picks, titles like Rudolph’s Shiny New YearThe Santa Clause, and Jack Frost will carve out time on ABC Family and CBS in the coming weeks. Original TV movies — including one featuring reigning Queen of Christmas Mariah Carey — will also be shown. So to help you choose what to watch, we’ve rounded up our coverage of holiday specials in the guide below:

Everett Collection

The Classics

If you prefer the familiar to the unpredictable, these go-to lineups of holidays movies are guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. All you need to do is make the hot chocolate and curl up before the shows begin. Check out the schedules in the links below:

ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas lineup

With a slate of offerings including I’ll Be Home for ChristmasElf, and a marathon of Toy Story leading up to the 25th, we almost wish the network’s celebration of the season lasted longer than 25 days.

CBS brings Frosty, Rudoph, and Victoria’s Secret to spread cheer

In December, the network will feature several holiday specials, as well as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, for those looking for a, well, different type of festive experience.

The Great British Bake Off comes to America (again) as The Great Holiday Baking Show

It may technically be new, but fans of the British original know what to expect. In addition, ABC will air The Great Christmas Light Fight (starting Dec. 7), which follows competing families one-upping each other with lavish holiday decorations. 

Also airing: NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center airs Wednesday, Dec. 2, and country fans can tune in to the CMAs’ Christmas celebration on ABC Thursday, Dec. 3. Over on the CW, the 84th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade will take place on Dec. 11. And CBS will air the 17th annual A Home for the Holidays, hosted by LL Cool J, on Dec. 18, and an I Love Lucy Christmas special on Dec. 23.

Brian Douglas/Crown Media United States, LLC

Holiday TV Movies

It’s not the holidays without some cheesy made-for-TV flicks about true love, gift-giving, and the importance of family. Find out what’s available in the links below:

See Mariah Carey be a real mean girl to Lacey Chabert in A Christmas Melody

Carey holds tight to her “All I Want for Christmas Crown” in this movie, airing Dec. 19 on the Hallmark Channel.

This year in holiday TV movies: What’s new and used (a lot)

For more options, read EW’s Dan Snierson’s breakdown of this year’s festive (and not-so-festive) trends across original holiday movies.


Holiday specials

For some “live” offerings, including Christmas carols performed by a capella group Pentatonix, head to Logo for their “Happy Holigays” lineup that lasts through 2016 or watch the stars of Empire not only perform classic tunes, but also duet with artists like Mary J. Blige, John Legend, and Jamie Foxx. And for fans of Doctor Who, the Christmas special is right around the corner:

Logo to kick off ‘Happy Holigays’ with RuPaul’s Drag Race holiday special

Logo kicks off original holiday programming with a special, Christmas-themed episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Empire stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard to host Fox holiday special

The special airs Dec. 9.

Join Bill Murray for A Very Murray Christmas

Also check out the exclusive key art and the trailer for the special hitting Netflix on Dec. 4. 

This year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special will feature Alex Kingston returning as River Song

On Christmas Day, tune in to BBC America for this year’s Doctor Who adventure.

See the opening of Michael Bublé’s Christmas in Hollywood

The singer’s annual music and comedy-filled Christmas special, featuring stars like Celine Dion, Tori Kelly, and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, will air Thursday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.