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March 1, 2024

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Festive holiday specials stacking up on TV

Classics, rom-coms, family-friendly fare, music all available

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This image released by Disney+ shows Lil Rel Howery as Nick, left, and Chris &ldquo;Ludacris&rdquo; Bridges as Eddie in a scene from the holiday special &ldquo;Dashing Through the Snow.&rdquo; (Steve Dietl/Disney+ via AP) (Stephanie Mei-Ling/Universal Pictures/Peacock)
This image released by Disney+ shows Lil Rel Howery as Nick, left, and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Eddie in a scene from the holiday special “Dashing Through the Snow.” (Steve Dietl/Disney+ via AP) (Stephanie Mei-Ling/Universal Pictures/Peacock) Photo Gallery

Holiday favorites like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “A Christmas Story” will soon return, along with new family friendly films including “Dashing Through the Snow” on Disney+ and Melissa McCarthy’s “Genie” on Peacock.

There’s music to enjoy too, with Hannah Waddingham leading an Apple TV+ special and the annual Tabernacle Choir concert airing on PBS. Plus, familiar faces including Lori Loughlin, Teri Hatcher and Lacey Chabert have holiday rom-coms airing.

Here’s where — and when, in Eastern Standard Time — to watch this year’s holiday TV bonanza.

GETTING AN EARLY START

Hulu has its own original feel-good holiday movies: “ A Christmas Frequency ” starring Denise Richards and “ Reporting for Christmas,” which are among the offerings available now.

“Desperate Housewives” star Hatcher stars in a cute twist on Kate Hudson’s “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” with “ How to Fall in Love by the Holidays,” now up on the Roku Channel. Hatcher plays a reporter reluctantly writing a column with tips on finding in love in time for Christmas — and sparks her own romance.

Loughlin returns in her first original holiday movie since getting ensnared in a massive college admissions bribery scandal, called “ A Christmas Blessing,” now available on Great American Family. Loughlin plays a chef who has just wrapped her long-running TV cooking show and is planning a two-year sojourn to write a book. A quick detour to Milwaukee to handle some family business ends up taking her longer than expected when she finds love with James Tupper.

Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith judge “ The Great American Baking Show: Celebrity Holiday,” also on Roku Channel, where celeb contestants including comedians Joel McHale, Phoebe Robinson and Heather McMahan compete in a bake-off.

Chris “Ludacris” Bridges plays Eddie, a dad who has been anti-Christmas because of a traumatic childhood experience in “ Dashing through the Snow ″ for Disney+. When his estranged wife (Teyonah Parris) asks him to take their young daughter out on Christmas Eve, they encounter a man named Nick (played by Lil Rel Howery), who seems to think he’s Santa Claus. Eddie thinks the man needs medical attention but ends up going on a magical adventure. It begins streaming Friday.

Young shopping mall workers find love in “ The Holiday Shift.” Premiering Friday on Roku Channel, the five-episode series stars Varun Saranga, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Devyn Nekoda, Nadine Bhabha and Sarah Levy of “Schitt’s Creek.”

The likeability and comedic talents of Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) and Robbie Amell (“Upload”) infuse some fresh air into the genre with “ EXmas,” out on Amazon Freevee Friday. They play former fiancees, Graham and Ali, who find themselves in a nightmare scenario when Graham surprises his family by returning home for the holidays — and finds Ali already there as a special guest.

MORE HOLIDAY LOVE

Another exciting duo to watch is former “Party of Five” co-stars Lacey Chabert and Scott Wolf who again, play siblings in “ A Merry Scottish Christmas ” for the Hallmark Channel premiering Saturday at 8 p.m.

Jenn Lilley and Matthew Morrison also jet set in their Great American Family film, “ A Paris Christmas Waltz ” airing at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Hatcher offers a second holiday movie helping this season with a rekindling romance rom-com. She co-stars in “Christmas at the Chalet” with William DeVry on Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.

Chabert also has two holiday movies this year. She stars in “Haul Out the Holly: Lit Up” — a sequel to last year’s hit, “Haul out the Holly” — about a neighborhood that takes their holiday decoration competition very seriously. The lights go up Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. on Hallmark Channel.

Kristoffer Polaha and Bethany Joy Lenz filmed a time-traveling romance story at the famed Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. “ A Biltmore Christmas ” debuts on Hallmark at 8 p.m. on Nov. 26.

Loni Anderson, Morgan Fairchild, Linda Gray, Donna Mills and Nicollette Sheridan team up in “ Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas ” for Lifetime at 8 p.m. on Dec. 2. The quintet portray former soap opera co-stars who come together for a live holiday special and play matchmakers with their producer and director.

Another Hallmark regular, Jonathan Bennett, returns with a dose of holiday cheer in “Christmas on Cherry Lane” airing at 8 p.m. Dec. 9. He stars alongside Vincent Rodriguez III (“Crazy Ex- Girlfriend”), Erin Cahill and John Brotherton. The project is also an onscreen reunion for James Denton and Catherine Bell of “The Good Witch.”

A book editor in New York returns to her family farm and the Amish community she lived in as a child where she helps save a family bakery and meets a handsome local. “ Christmas at the Amish Bakery ” premieres Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. on UPtv.

In “Yes, Chef!”, Tia Mowry stars as a culinary instructor whose life takes a surprising turn when she competes in an annual Kringle Cook-Off where she finds career challenges and a possible love interest. Buddy Valastro, known as The Cake Boss, makes his acting debut. It airs Dec. 10 on Lifetime at 8 p.m.

SOMETHING NEW FOR THE KIDS

Nickelodeon’s “The Tiny Chef Show” presents a Thanksgiving-themed show called “Fwendsgiving” on Nov. 20.

Melissa McCarthy plays a genie who brings holiday cheer to Paapa Essiedu in the new comedy “ Genie,” debuting Nov. 22 on Peacock.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is a big one for Candace Cameron Bure’s household. Both she and her daughter, Natasha Bure, have movies on Great American Family this season. Candace’s movie “My Christmas Hero” airs Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. and Natasha makes her acting debut in “A Christmas for the Ages” alongside Cheryl Ladd, at 8 p.m. on Nov. 26.

“ The Bad Guys: A Very Bad Holiday,” based on the animated feature “The Bad Guys,” features villains Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, and Ms. Tarantula, setting out to do what they do best, (be bad) on Christmas. But when the holiday is canceled, they change course to pull off a happy holiday. Drops on Netflix Nov. 30.

IT WOULDN’T BE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT…

Some classics still hold up, such as the 1974 movie “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” featuring the voice of Andy Rooney as Santa. To the dismay of children, Santa decides he’s burnt out and needs to take a holiday off. One little boy recognizes how hard Santa works and rallies everyone to give gifts to Santa so he can feel the love. The movie begins playing on Saturday, Nov. 18 on TBS and Sunday, Nov. 19 on TNT.

CBS will air the Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at 8 p.m. on Nov. 27. It will repeat at 8 p.m. on Dec. 16, followed by long-time favorites “Frosty the Snowman” and “Frosty Returns.”

Apple TV+ once again makes “ A Charlie Brown Christmas ” available for free Dec. 16 and 17 so viewers can test out the streaming service, and enjoy the Christmas classic.

The 24-hour marathon of “ A Christmas Story ” begins Dec. 24 on both TNT and TBS.

HANUKKAH SPECIALS

Nick Jr. will air Hanukkah-themed programming beginning at 8 p.m. on Dec. 8 with a special “Paddington” episode followed by an episode of “Bossy Bear.”

Hallmark Channel also will have a Hanukkah-themed movie called “Round and Round” starring Vic Michaelis and Bryan Greenberg. It airs at 8 p.m. on Dec. 10.

HOLIDAY TUNES

“Ted Lasso” star Hannah Waddingham taps into her musical theater background by hosting her own Christmas special for Apple TV+ called “ Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas.” Debuting Nov. 22, the event was taped in front of a live audience at the London Coliseum and features special guests.

“Season of Light: Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir,” airs Dec. 12 on PBS at 8 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. on BYUtv. Broadway’s Lea Salonga leads the annual concert with the beloved Tabernacle Choir that was recorded in 2022 to air this year. Sir David Suchet narrates.

Fox’s hit show “The Masked Singer” gets into the holiday spirit with “The Masked Singer Holiday Sing-Along” on Dec. 12, featuring season 10 contestants, “Masked Singer” alums and Nick Cannon, Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg, Ken Jeong, Robin Thicke and Nicole Scherzinger as “carolers.”

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