12 Christmas films to watch on TV over the festive period

Fancy a free festive film to watch from the comfort of your sofa? White Christmas, Love Actually and The Holiday are all showing


1. Arthur Christmas, Saturday 19th December, 5:10-7:00pm, Channel 4

This Aardman tale features the voice talents of James McAvoy as the son of Santa (Jim Broadbent) who teams up with Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) to deliver Christmas presents. Our titular hero sports a mighty Christmas jumper as he helps to save the big day.


2. The Nightmare Before Christmas, Saturday 19th December, 7:25-9:00pm, ITV2

Tim Burton’s classically dark Christmas tale. Jack Skellington, the mastermind behind Halloween, hijacks Christmas to deliver nasty surprises to terrified children rather than presents. Packed with gags, dazzling decor and scary puppets. 

3. Love Actually, Sunday 20th December, 10:20pm-12:45am, ITV

This ensemble rom-com from writer Richard Curtis is essential Christmas viewing. Boasting a star-studded cast including Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley and more, you can’t help but fall under its festive charm.

4. Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! Monday 21st December, 6:15-8:00pm, BBC2

This comedy film starring David Tennant follows a class of primary school children and their teacher competing in a Christmas song contest. Can they beat everyone else to win?

5. The Santa Clause, Christmas Eve, 10:30-12:00pm, BBC1

This yuletide comedy is Tim Allen’s feature debut and a family favourite. As the sceptic Scrooge bound by the Claus clause, the star morphs from Scrooge to Santa in this festive delight.

6. It’s a Wonderful Life, Christmas Eve, 2:15-4:55pm, Channel 4

Pretty much shown every Christmas, Frank Capra’s life-enhancing film features James Stewart, who insisted it was his favourite film. It’s the story of the owner of a small-town loans and savings company contemplating suicide by misplaced funds and the greed of a more powerful banker. Doesn’t sound particularly Christmassy, but the heart-warming message shines through.


7. Scrooge, Christmas Eve, 5:20-7:00pm, Channel 5

Perhaps the best version of this yuletide classic. Alastair Sim stars as the miser who sees the error of his ways through explanations given by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future. 

8. The Polar Express, Christmas Eve, 5:25-7:25pm, ITV2

This animated film based on a children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg is about a sceptical boy who stumbles across a magical train, where Santa whisks him away on a trip to the North Pole. Packed with lessons about faith and hope, watch with your children or younger siblings for a real treat.

9. The Santa Clause 3: the Escape Clause, Christmas Day, 11:00-12:25pm, BBC1

Tim Allen is back as Santa Claus in this second sequel. We welcome the addition of Martin Short as mischief-making Jack Frost who endeavours to create havoc for Mr Claus. This sequel flows better than the second film, don’t miss it this Christmas. 

10. The Muppets Christmas Carol, Christmas Day, 1:45-3:25pm, Channel 4

Who doesn’t love The Muppets? Michael Caine stars as Scrooge, alongside Kermit and Miss Piggy as the Cratchits and Gonzo as Dickens. The story is packed with other Muppets characters but the key elements of the plot – and moral of the narrative – are still intact. 

11. The Holiday, Monday 28th December, 10:15pm-12:45am, ITV

Another Christmas classic to warm your heart at this time of year. Starring Jude Law and Kate Winslet as siblings along with Cameron Diaz and Jack Black. Winslet and Diaz’s characters swap houses over the festive period to get over heartbreaks, only to find more love waiting for them. 


12. White Christmas, Wednesday 30th December, 1:10-3:30pm, Film 4

Based on the 1942 film Holiday Inn, this love story stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kay as army friends who team up to form a song-and-dance duo. They take a holiday with two sisters (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) at a New England skiing resort which is on the brink of bankruptcy and attempt to save the day by organising a concert to raise funds. A lovely, sentimental film.