Christmas 2018: A Guide to Holiday Programming

8:13 AM 12/22/2018

by Katherine Schaffstall

Movies like 'It's A Wonderful Life,' 'Elf,' 'The Santa Clause' and more will be played across many networks this holiday season.

'It's a Wonderful Life,' 'Elf,' 'The Santa Clause'
'It's a Wonderful Life,' 'Elf,' 'The Santa Clause'
RKO/Photofest; New Line Cinema/Photofest; Buena Vista Pictures/Photofest

The holiday season wouldn't be complete without a Christmas movie marathon.

During the days that lead up to Christmas, many networks will play holiday classics like A Christmas StoryIt's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. More recent movies like Elf and Love Actually will also air as the holiday approaches.

Additionally, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video have acquired the rights to a number of holiday classics.

Read on the see The Hollywood Reporter's roundup of where to watch classic Christmas movies this holiday season.

  • 'A Christmas Carol'



    The first A Christmas Carol film adaption stars Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge fires Bob Cratchit (Gene Lockhart) just before Christmas, which prompts the miserable man to be visited by three ghosts. The ghosts show him how he spent Christmas in the past, present and future. When Scrooge wakes up the following morning, he realizes that he must change his mean ways in order to have a better life.

    A Christmas Carol will air on TCM on Dec. 24 at 10 p.m. ET.

  • 'A Christmas Story'

    TBS, TNT

    MGM/UA Entertainment Company

    The 1983 film, which takes place in the 1940s, follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) as he tries to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa to buy him a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.

    TBS and TNT will continue the tradition of the "24 Hours of A Christmas Story" marathon this season. The marathon begins on Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. ET and will run throughout Christmas Day.

  • 'Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas'

    Freeform, NBC, Netflix

    Courtesy of Photofest

    The live-action adaption of the classic Dr. Seuss story stars Jim Carrey as the titular character. Based in the fictional town of Whoville, the Grinch plans to ruin the holiday season for all of the residents in the town.

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas will play on Freeform on Dec. 22 at 5:05 p.m., on Dec. 23 at 9:15 p.m. and on Dec. 24 at 6:15 p.m. NBC will play the film on Dec. 25 at 8:30 ET, while it is also available to stream on Netflix.

  • 'Elf'



    The 2004 holiday classic follows Buddy The Elf's (Will Ferrell) journey from the North Pole to New York City to find his biological father, Walter (James Caan). Once in New York City, Buddy makes it his mission to spread holiday cheer among his new peers.

    AMC will play Elf on Dec. Dec. 22 at 8 p.m., on Dec. 24 at 8:30 and on Dec. 25 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

  • 'Home Alone'


    Twentieth Century Fox/Photofest

    Home Alone tells the story of 8-year-old troublemaker Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), who is accidentally left home alone when his family travels to Paris for Christmas. While he spends the first half of his alone time enjoying his newfound independence, he later finds himself protecting his home from a pair of burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern).

    Starz will play the film on Dec. 22 at 8 p.m., on Dec. 23 at 9:27 a.m. and on Dec. 25 at 7 a.m., 10:48 a.m. and 2:35 p.m. ET.

  • 'Home Alone 2'


    Courtesy of Photofest

    The 1992 sequel catches up with Kevin when he accidentally boards the wrong flight and travels to New York City, while his family heads to Miami. While he spends the first half of the film taking advantage of the city during the holiday season, he soon crosses paths with the burglars he outsmarted in the previous film.

    Home Alone 2: Lost in New York will air on Starz on Dec. 22 at 9:45 p.m., on Dec. 23 at 11:12 a.m. and on Dec. 25 at 8:45 a.m., 12:33 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. ET.

  • 'It's A Wonderful Life'

    NBC, Amazon Prime

    RKO Radio Pictures/Photofest

    James Stewart stars in the 1946 film as George Bailey, a small-town banker who learns what life would be like if he didn't exist. With the help of an angel (Henry Travers), George realizes how many lives he has touched and how his community would be different without him.

    It's A Wonderful Life will be air on NBC on Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. ET. It is also available to stream on Amazon Prime.

  • 'Love Actually'

    TBS, TNT, Netflix

    Courtesy of Photofest

    The star-studded film tells a number of different love stories that all take place during the holiday season. While Juliet (Kiera Knightley) learns that her husband's best friend (Andrew Lincoln) is in love with her, newly single Jamie (Colin Firth) falls in love with Portuguese housekeeper Aurelia (Lucia Moniz), despite the fact that they speak different languages. The film also tells the story of recent widower Daniel (Liam Neeson) as he struggles to raise his stepson (Thomas Sangster) and the Prime Minister's (Hugh Grant) love story with a junior member (Martine McCutcheon) of the household staff.

    Love Actually will air on TBS on Dec. 22 at 12 a.m. It will also air on TNT on Dec. 23 at 5 p.m. and on Dec. 25 at 9 p.m. ET. The festive romantic comedy is also available to stream on Netflix.

  • 'Miracle on 34th Street'


    20th Century-Fox/Photofest

    The 1994 adaption of Miracle on 34th Street stars Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle, a man that reluctantly takes on the role of a department store Santa Claus after the original gets drunk before the Thanksgiving Day parade. Kringle is met with skepticism when he claims that he is the real Santa, though a lawyer (Dylan McDermott) and 6-year-old girl (Mara Wilson) work hard to prove that Kringle is the real deal.

    Miracle on 34th Street is available to stream on Hulu.

  • 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation'


    Courtesy of Photofest

    Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki star as the Griswold family in the 1989 film. The family faces many comical roadblocks as they prepare for the year's Christmas celebrations, including forgetting tools to cut down a Christmas tree and a disastrous Christmas Eve dinner.

    The comedy will be played on AMC on Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., on Dec. 24 at 10:30 p.m. and on Dec. 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

  • 'The Polar Express'


    Courtesy of Photofest

    Tom Hanks stars in the 2004 animated film. Based on the 1985 children's book of the same name, the film follows a young boy's magical journey to the North Pole via the Polar Express train on Christmas Eve. During the journey to meet Santa, the boy learns about friendship, bravery and the magic of Christmas.

    The Polar Express will air on AMC on Dec. 22 at 4 p.m., on Dec. 23 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., on Dec. 24 at 4 p.m. and on Dec. 25 at 1 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. ET.

  • 'The Santa Clause'



    Tim Allen stars in the 1994 film as successful toy salesman and single father Scott Calvin. While Scott doesn't believe in Santa, his does his best to convince his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) that he exists. After Charlie goes to bed on Christmas Eve night, he hears Santa's sleigh land on their roof and he wakes up his father. The two startle Santa, which causes him to lose his balance and fall off the roof. Scott reluctantly takes on the role of Santa, which helps him rediscover his love for the holiday and strengthens his relationship with Charlie.

    The Santa Clause will air on Freeform on Dec. 22 at 9:40 a.m. and 7:45 p.m., on Dec. 23 at 5:05 p.m., on Dec. 24 at 8:55 p.m. and on Dec. 25 at 4:45 p.m. ET.

  • 'Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas'

    Freeform, Disney XD, Hulu

    Buena Vista Pictures / Photofest

    The 1993 animated film tells the tale of Jake Skellington (Chris Sarandon), who is the king of Halloween Town. When he becomes bored with Halloween festivities, Jack tries to create new Christmas traditions for the town. Jack instructs townspeople to abduct Santa so that he can personally deliver presents to children around the world, though his Halloween-themed gifts are not positively received.

    The Nightmare Before Christmas will air on Freeform on Dec. 22 at 3:25 p.m., on Dec. 23 at 1:20 p.m., on Dec. 24 at 12:30 p.m. and on Dec. 25 at 11 a.m. Disney XD will play the movie on Dec. 24 at 9 p.m. and on Dec. 25 at 5:30 p.m. ET. Additionally, the movie is available to stream on Hulu.

  • 'White Christmas'

    AMC, Sundance, Netflix


    The 1954 film tells the story of a successful song and dance team (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) that become romantically involved with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen). The two acts work together to save a failing Vermont Inn that is owned by the men's former commanding general.

    White Christmas will be played on AMC on Dec. 22 at 2 a.m., on Dec. 23 at 8 a.m. and Dec. 25 at 3 a.m. The film will also be played on Sundance on Dec. 24 at 8 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. and on Dec. 25 at 12: 30 a.m. and 3:15 a.m. ET. The holiday classic is also available to stream on Netflix.