A complete guide to 2017 holiday TV specials
There are two quintessential holiday activities: eating and watching TV. While you may prefer to use your free time to catch up on your favorite series and binge back-to-back episodes, there are also plenty of holiday specials airing between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve to keep you busy. From a live performance of a Christmas classic to magical Disney celebrations, there’s a holiday special for everyone.
Go ahead and take a look at the joyful list of options below.
Kick off your Thanksgiving week with a late-night Slapsgiving marathon featuring four back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother starting at 1 a.m. ET on WGN America.
No Thanksgiving feast is complete without the classic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, now in its 91st year.So tune in at 9 a.m. ET on NBC as 50-foot balloons (welcome, Olaf!) make their way down Fifth Avenue alongside cheerleaders, marching bands from across the country, and special celebrity performances.
Burn all the extra Thanksgiving calories with laughter by watching the 10-hour-long America’s Funniest Home Videos’ Thanksgiving Marathon on WGN America starting at 9 a.m. ET.
Gather young and old for the magical return of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, and Zooey Deschanel in DreamWorks Trolls Holiday. The half-hour musical special, airing on NBC at 8:30 p.m. ET, will follow Poppy (Kendrick) and Branch (Timberlake) as they try to teach Bridget (Deschanel) and the Bergens about holiday cheer and celebration.
The award-winning a cappella group is coming back this holiday season for A Very Pentatonix Christmas at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. The one-hour musical event will feature performances of classic holiday songs as well as a duet with Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. Other celebrity guest appearances include Jay Leno and 13-year-old America’s Got Talent winner Darci Lynne Farmer, with more to be announced.
Taped at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House in front of a live audience, the 8th annual CMA Country Christmas special is back with a new host: country icon Reba McEntire, who will also perform. The event will also feature appearances from Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan, CB30, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Dan + Shay, CeCe Winans, Trisha Yearwood, and Chris Young. Catch the country special at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Take a break from all the Christmas carols and tune in to see the Victoria’s Secret Angels strut down the runway in Shanghai for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, where musicians like Harry Styles and Miguel will perform. Catch the show at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.
Experience the magic moment when over 50,000 LED lights covering a 75-foot tall Norway Spruce tree are lit up during Christmas in Rockefeller Center at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. The decades-old tradition will be followed by a display of holiday cheer and talent with performances from Brett Eldredge, Jennifer Nettles, Leslie Odom Jr., Pentatonix, Gwen Stefani, and the Tenors. Of course, the Today show anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker will be there to talk you through the Christmas ceremony.
Catch Bruno Mars as he takes over the legendary Apollo Theater for a night full of music, style, and epic performances during Bruno Mars: 24k Magic Live at the Apollo at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. The special kicks off with a daring performance atop the world-famous marquee of the theater. This is the singer’s first televised special, and it includes behind-the-scenes moments and fantastic footage of Mars and his band as they take over the streets of New York with their funky sound.
Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Sally, and Linus for the classic Peanuts special A Charlie Brown Christmasat 8 p.m. ET on ABC. The hour-long animated special, created by Charles M. Schulz in 1965, will also feature a series of Christmas-themed short stories: Charlie Brown Christmas Tales.
Disney is here to make holiday dreams come true with three separate holiday specials. The first, The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration, will air at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. Hosted by Julianne Hough and Nick Lachey, the two-hour event will close with Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell singing a duet from the upcoming Disney featurette Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Other performers involved in the holiday special include Lea Michele, Ciara, Darius Rucker, Fifth Harmony, Fitz and the Tantrums, Hanson, In Real Life, Jason Derulo, 98 Degrees, and the cast of the new Club Mickey Mouse.
Catch the one-hour finale special from Hulu’s East Los High. The special comes after four seasons of the Emmy-nominated show, Hulu’s first and longest-running original series. The finale special will pick up eight months after season 4’s ending as the students prepare to enter a new journey in their life and possibly leave east L.A.
Laugh, cry, and reminisce with an homage to the queen of sketch comedy: the Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special, airing at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. The actress will be joined by original cast members Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner, and costume designer Bob Mackie will also join the celebration, which takes place in the original soundstage of The Carol Burnett Show at CBS Television City. Plus, friends and comedians — including Jim Carrey, Kristin Chenoweth, Stephen Colbert, Jay Leno, Jane Lynch, and Maya Rudolph, among others — will engage in conversation with Burnett about her favorite sketches, guest stars, and iconic wardrobe.
Join the hosts of The Chew for the ultimate holiday party: Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly, and Carla Hall will teach you how to come up with the perfect holiday dish and DIY festive crafts during The Chew: Snowed in for the Holidays at 3 p.m. ET on ABC. The group Human Nature will join the hosts as they belt out holiday carols.
Kristen Bell (Frozen) is making holiday wishes come true with her TV special Encore! airing at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. The actress and singer is reuniting a high school musical cast after 20 years to give them the chance to reprise their original roles in the production of Into the Woods. This time around, the high school group will beunder the direction and guidance of Broadway producers, choreographers, and voice coaches. Tune in to see Bell make musical theatre magic on your screen.
The second Disney special is all about love: Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings: Holiday Magic will air on Freeform at 8 p.m. ET. Go behind the scenes with Stephen “tWitch” Boss and Dancing With the Stars‘ Allison Holker to see some of the most magical weddings and proposals at Disney destinations from around the world.
Join three-time Grammy winner Gwen Stefani as she brings her holiday album to life with her first-ever special: Gwen Stefani’s You Make it Feel Like Christmas at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. The pop star will perform several songs off her new album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, as well as holiday classics including “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” and “Santa Baby.” The Voice judge Blake Shelton will share the stage with Stefani for a special performance. Other guests include Chelsea Handler, Ken Jeong, Seth MacFarlane, and Ne-Yo.
Relive some of the most glamorous and hilarious moments from the Golden Globes with Eric McCormack and Debra Messing (Will & Grace) when they host the Golden Globes 75th Anniversary Special. The celebration, honoring seven and a half decades of Hollywood’s biggest party, kicks off at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. The two-hour special will feature a countdown of the best Golden Globe-winning movies of all time chosen by members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The special will also highlight speeches, fashion, and red carpet moments, plus interviews with past Globe winners like Nicole Kidman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Kate Winslet, and many more.
The Fox party gets going with Showtime at the Apollo: Christmas at 8 p.m. ET. Steve Harvey and Adrienne Hough (The Real) will co-host the hour-long special as Snoop Dogg, Boyz II Men, Fifth Harmony, and DMX put their spin on holiday music in front of a live audience inside the Apollo Theater. Plus there will also be a live talent competition at the legendary venue.
Cookie is back! Empire’s Taraji P. Henson, the holiday empress, is bringing together the biggest stars for her annual variety special. Jussie Smollett (her TV son), Fergie, Ciara, Chaka Khan, Faith Evans, Salt-N-Peppa, and Leslie Odom Jr. will all take on holiday classics during Taraji’s White Hot Holidays, starting at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
Celebrate the holidays with the year’s top musical acts during the 2017 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour in Los Angeles. The epic lineup includes Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Kesha, Sam Smith, Fifth Harmony, Camila Cabello, Liam Payne, and The Chainsmokers. The party starts at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
Revisit the holiday classic A Christmas Story with Fox’s A Christmas Story Live!, featuring several newly composed songs. The three-hour live production will feature Tony winner Matthew Broderick as the all-grown-up Ralphie Parker. He’ll be joined by Maya Rudolph and newcomer Andy Walken as the new Ralphie; other cast members include Tony winner Jane Krakowski and Silicon Valley‘s Chris Diamantopoulos. Catch the live holiday event at 7 p.m. ET on Fox.
Peppa Pig is joining the holiday festivities! Father Christmas, the Christmas-themed “peppasode,” will follow Peppa, George, and all their playgroup friends as they put on a holiday showcase for all their parents. Catch all the fun at 12:30 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.
Join the Ricardos and Mertzes for a hilarious holiday treat with the I Love Lucy Christmas Special, fearing two back-to-back episodes of the iconic sitcom in full color. The two episodes, “The Christmas Episode” and “The Fashion Show,” originally aired in 1956 and 1955, respectively. Gather your family and laugh out loud alongside Lucy starting at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Julianne Hough and Nick Lachey return to the magical world of Disney for the third Disney special, The Disney Parks: Magical Christmas Celebration, airing at 10 a.m. ET on ABC. Musical guests and Disney stars will take the stage to provide the soundtrack for your morning spent opening gifts. Idina Menzel will also perform the classic “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
During BBC America’s Doctor Who special, Twice Upon a Time, fans will get the chance to see the current Doctor (Peter Capaldi) come face-to-face with the First Doctor, played by David Bradley, as they team up to save the world and their own future. During the one-hour special, fans will also be treated to the first appearance of the 13th Doctor: Pearl Mackie. An airtime for the special has yet to be released.
Continue your Christmas Day binge with PBS’ Call the Midwife holiday special, airing at 9 p.m. ET. The successful British drama returns with the midwives facing the coldest winter in 300 years as they struggle to save lives against all odds. Anita Dobson (EastEnders) will guest-star as Mabel.
Every year, there’s the dilemma of how to keep the kids entertained during the many adult-centric New Year’s parties. Thankfully, Netflix has your back with kid-friendly and family-oriented countdown specials aimed to keep the little ones happy and festive. The following New Year’s Eve Countdown 2018 specials will all stream on Netflix: All Hail King Julien, Beat Bugs, Larva, Pororo, Puffin Rock, Skylanders Academy, Trollhunters, True and The Rainbow Kingdom, and Word Party.
Start your New Year’s celebration with Netflix’s stand-up comedy special Dave Chapelle: Equanimity. This is the comedian’s third special with the streaming service, and the promo for the stand-up references Netflix’s Stranger Things character Elevenand Chapelle in a short but hilarious encounter. The special starts streaming on New Year’s Eve.
Join the biggest party in the U.S.: Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2018, starting at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Seacrest will lead the countdown to midnight live from Times Square. Joining him are Jenny McCarthy in NYC and singer Ciara in Los Angeles as they help welcome special performances and reports from New Year’s celebrations from all around the world.
Steve Harvey is back to help you ring in 2018 with Fox’s first-ever New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live from Times Square, airing at 8 p.m. ET. Harvey will be hosting live from the heart of NYC with surprise celebrity guests and top-notch musical performances throughout the night, ending with the traditional Times Square Ball drop at midnight.
New year, new co-host for CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. The two long-time friends will be co-hosting live from Times Square as they each bring their unique flavor to the last party of 2017. Cohen and Cooper will check in with CNN correspondents across the U.S. and globe as the new year kicks in; join the duo for the first time starting at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.