Your complete guide to the free holiday specials on TV this season

The holidays mean decorating, baking, shopping and, of course, watching traditional holiday favorites as a family. Each year, our family loves to go through the TV listings and find the movies and specials we’ve waiting all year to see. And because so many of the greats are on free TV, it’s an affordable way to do something special together.

We took some time to go through TV schedules to find everything the major networks plan to broadcast throughout the holiday season. So get out those calendars and get ready to plan some holiday viewing fun!

Friday, Nov. 24

Get ready. Today kicks off a long list of holiday specials! Let’s start with ABC  for the first Friday of the season:

  • 8 p.m. EST: “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” ABC

Over on NBC, two specials are on the schedule, including one classic and one new one:

  • 8 p.m. EST:  “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966),” NBC
  • 8:3o p.m. EST: “Trolls Holiday Special,” NBC

CBS kicks off the holiday season with a bang this year with two annual classics:

  • 8 p.m. EST: “Frosty the Snowman,” CBS
  • 8:30 p.m. EST: “Frosty Returns,” CBS

Saturday, Nov. 25

The holiday fun continues on CBS during the first official weekend of the season:

  • 8 p.m. EST: “Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire,” CBS
  • 8:30 p.m. EST: “Robbie the Reindeer: Legend of the Lost Tribe,” CBS
  • 9 p.m. EST: “The Story of Santa Claus,” CBS

Monday, Nov. 27

ABC rings in the holiday season with a musical Christmas special presented by the Country Music Association. Country legend Reba McEntire hosts the annual event.

  • 8 p.m. EST: CMA Country Christmas, ABC

Over on NBC, Pentatonix showcases their vocal talent with their own holiday special.

  • 10 p.m. EST: “A Very Pentatonix Christmas,” NBC

Tuesday, Nov. 28

CBS presents its first airing of “Rudolph” for 2017 tonight! You ready for some reindeer games?

  • 8 p.m. EST: “Rudolph the Red-Noised Reindeer,” CBS

Wednesday, Nov. 29

The lighting of New York City’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is an annual tradition millions of people anticipate. An all-star lineup, including Pentatonix and Gwen Stefani, will join the hosts of NBC’s Today Show to light up the night for the 85th annual celebration.

  • 7 p.m. EST: NBC’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

rockefeller center tree photo
Getty Images | Andrew Burton

Thursday, Nov. 30

Good grief! ABC shows one of the most popular Christmas specials of all time featuring Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts:

  • 8 p.m. EST: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” ABC

Then, right afterward, ABC presents a Disney holiday special the whole family will love.

  • 9 p.m. EST: “The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration,” ABC

Disney christmas photo
Getty Images | Handout

Wednesday, Dec. 6

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Pentatonix Christmas special, NBC has an encore presentation planned for tonight:

  • 8 p.m. EST: “A Very Pentatonix Christmas,” NBC

Thursday, Dec. 7

ABC brings Shrek and “Toy Story” favorites to the small screen for tonight’s holiday festivities:

  • 8 p.m. EST: “Shrek the Halls,” ABC
  • 8:30 p.m. EST: “Toy Story That Time Forgot,” ABC

toy story photo
Getty Images | Jesse Grant

Saturday, Dec. 9

A great night to grab a bowl of popcorn and sit in the front of the TV for holiday classics’ viewing. CBS has an entire evening of shows on the schedule, including a famous glowing-nosed reindeer!

  • 8 p.m. EST: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” CBS
  • 9 p.m. EST: “Frosty the Snowman,” CBS
  • 9:30 p.m. EST: “Frosty Returns,” CBS

Over at NBC, Jimmy Stewart’s classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” gets its annual presentation. This is a classic movie from 1946 that should be an absolute must-watch for the family:

  • 8 p.m. EST: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” NBC

Sunday, Dec. 10

OK. So Disney’s juggernaut “Frozen” isn’t exactly a Christmas movie. But ABC decided to add it to the schedule as another way for the whole family to spend some time together during the busy holiday season.

  • 8 p.m. EST: “Frozen,” ABC

frozen photo
Getty Images | Handout

Monday, Dec. 11

Love going out and seeing Christmas lights during the holidays? Then you’ll love ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight”! See how a variety of families go all out to put the sparkle and shine into their holiday decorating. You might want some sunglasses, though. It can get pretty bright!

  • 8 p.m. EST: “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” ABC

Tuesday, Dec. 12

Gwen Stefani hosts her own holiday special over on NBC today. Other guests include Blake Shelton (of course!), Chris McFarlane, Chelsea Handler and NE-YO.

  • 9 p.m. EST: “Gwen Stefani Christmas Special,” NBC

Thursday, Dec. 14

The contemporary Christmas classic “Disney’s Prep and Landing” arrives today for your family’s holiday viewing pleasure:

  • 8:30 p.m. EST: “Disney’s Prep and Landing,” ABC

Saturday, Dec. 16

Did you know there’s another Peanuts holiday special out there? “I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown” was released in 2003, and ABC is showing it tonight!

  • 8 p.m. EST: “I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown,” ABC

Sunday, Dec. 17

FOX will premiere “A Christmas Story Live!,” a musical adaptation of the classic Christmas movie with Ralphie and his beloved Red Ryder BB Gun. We can’t wait to see the classic leg lamp scene brought to musical life! FOX TV seems pretty excited, too, as they recently posted a fun countdown meme on Facebook.

  • 7 p.m. EST: “A Christmas Story Live!” FOX

Monday, Dec. 18

Catch an encore presentation of “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on ABC tonight:

  • 8 p.m. EST: “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” ABC

Tuesday, Dec. 19

If you watched “Disney’s Prep and Landing” a few days ago, you won’t want to miss the sequel, airing tonight on ABC:

  • 8:30 p.m. EST: “Disney’s Prep and Landing 2: Naughty vs. Nice,” ABC

Friday, Dec. 22

If you and your family enjoy classic TV sitcoms, take out your calendar and pencil in these two amazing Christmas specials from “I Love Lucy” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It’s a trip back in time for when Christmas seemed like an easier time. Ah, nostalgia!

  • 8 p.m. EST: “I Love Lucy Christmas Special,” CBS
  • 9 p.m. EST: “The Dick Van Dyke Show: Now in Living Color!” CBS


Sunday, Dec. 24

NBC has an annual tradition of showing “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve, and this year is no exception. If you missed it earlier this month, then make the time to grab a cup of hot chocolate, gather the family and watch this film on this special night!

  • 8 p.m. EST: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” NBC

Monday, Dec. 25

If you ever wished you could go to a Disney theme park on Christmas, watch “Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration” on this holiday morning!

  • 10 a.m. EST: “Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration,” ABC

Tuesday, Dec. 26

The holiday magic doesn’t stop just because Christmas is over! It’s time to start thinking of the new year! Today, Charlie Brown and Rudolph return to prepare for the upcoming festivities:

  • 8 p.m. EST: “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown,” ABC
  • 9 p.m EST: “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year,” ABC

Happy Holidays, everyone! Enjoy all the amazing holiday shows on TV this season!

[h/t: Country Living]