Christmas TV highlights: best shows to watch this holiday season

Jim Carrey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Image credit: Universal Pictures/Maximum Film/Alamy Stock Photo)

The Christmas season is officially upon us, which means there is going to be plenty of Christmas TV highlights to get you in the holiday spirit. We're here to help you know what festive-theme programming is available to watch on TV this year all the way up to Christmas Day.

While many of the best Christmas movies are going to be airing on TV throughout the next few weeks or available on various streaming platforms, we're highlighting new and special Christmas TV shows, movies and events that you should be tuning in for, from the full slate of Hallmark Christmas movies to holiday-themed episodes of TV favorites.

Check out the full schedule below, which we'll update throughout the season as more TV shows and specials are announced.

December 21

Dolly Parton appears as herself in Dolly Parton's Mountain Magic Christmas

Dolly Parton in Dolly Parton's Mountain Magic Christmas (Image credit: NBC)
  • Whatever It Takes, BET Plus
  • iHeart Radio Jingle Ball 2023, 8 pm ET/PT, ABC
  • Big Brother Reindeer Games, 8 pm ET/PT, CBS
  • The Christmas Break, 8 pm ET/PT, Fox
  • Christmas at Graceland, 8 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Selena + Chef: Home for the Holidays, 8 pm ET/PT, Food Network
  • Dolly Parton's Mountain Magic Christmas, 9 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Disney's A Christmas Carol, 9 pm ET/PT, Disney Channel
  • Christmas Cookie Challenge, 9 pm ET/PT, Food Network
  • Love Actually, 9 pm ET/PT, MTV

December 22

  • Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, 8 pm ET/PT, ABC
  • 25th Annual A Home for the Holidays, 8 pm ET/PT, CBS
  • Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, 8 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Fit for Christmas, 9 pm ET/PT, CBS
  • Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, 9 pm ET/PT, The CW
  • Season of Light: Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir, 9 pm ET/PT, PBS
  • The Best Man Holiday, 10 pm ET/PT, BET
  • A Shattered Christmas, 10 pm ET/PT, ID

December 23

  • Mom's Christmas Boyfriend, 8 pm ET/PT, Lifetime
  • When Christmas Was Young, 8 pm ET/PT, CBS
  • Christmas with The Chosen: Holy Night, 8 pm ET/PT, The CW
  • Night Court Christmas special, 8:30 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • A Saturday Night Live Christmas Special, 9 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Mary Berry's Highland Christmas, 9 pm ET/PT, PBS 
  • Christmas Revisited, 9 pm ET/PT, OWN

December 24

Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart and Karolyn Grimes in It's a Wonderful Life

Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart and Karolyn Grimes in It's a Wonderful Life (Image credit: World History Archive/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Home Alone, 8 pm ET/PT, ABC
  • Lingo for the Holidays, 8 pm ET/PT, CBS
  • It's a Wonderful Life, 8 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • The Chosen, 8 pm ET/PT, The CW
  • The Great Christmas Showdown, 8 pm ET/PT, Fox News Channel
  • A Christmas Story marathon, starts at 8 pm ET/PT on TBS, 9 pm ET/PT on TNT
  • Loteria Loca Happy Holidays, 9 pm ET/PT, CBS 
  • West Point Holiday Show, 9 pm ET/PT, Fox News Channel
  • Gospel Superfest 2023 Christmas Special, 10 pm ET/PT, BET
  • Christmas Eve Mass, 11:30 pm ET, NBC

December 25

  • Doctor Who Holiday Special: The Church on Ruby Road, Disney Plus
  • Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade, 10 am ET/9 am PT, ABC
  • How to the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), 8 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Call the Midwife Holiday Special 2023, 8 pm ET/PT, PBC
  • Who Can Forget Christmas?, 8 pm ET/PT, Fox News Channel
  • MasterChef Junior: Home for the Holidays, 8:08 pm ET/PT, Fox
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), 8:30 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to All!, 9 pm ET/PT, CBS
  • A Duck Family Christmas, 9 pm ET/PT, Fox News Channel
  • It's a Wonderful Life marathon, starting at 6 am ET/PT, E!
  • A Christmas Story marathon, until 8 pm ET/PT on TBS, until 11:15 pm ET/PT on TNT
Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.