Christmas comes but once a year—and so do some of your favorite TV Christmas specials. Even with today’s high-tech animated graphics available, every holiday season TV fans continue to go back 50 years to rewatch some of the most beloved Christmas specials of all time. From the Rankin-Bass stop-action features to an animated special based on a famous Christmas song, there’s nothing like classic TV to get you into the holiday spirit.
For 2017, all of the greatest Christmas specials are once again on tap. According to a press release from CBS, the annual showings for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman arrive shortly after Thanksgiving. In fact, Frosty pays his annual visit on Friday, Nov, 24 at 8 p.m. ET. The beloved 1969 animated holiday special is narrated by the legendary Jimmy Durante, and it features the voices of Jackie Vernon (as Frosty) and Billy De Wolfe (as Professor Hinkle) in a story about a snowman who comes to life when he wears a magical hat. Frosty the Snowman will be followed by Frosty Returns, with Roseanne star John Goodman taking on the voice role of the famous snowman. The special, which first aired in 1992, is narrated by Jonathan Winters.
Also on Nov. 24, NBC will present the classic animated special How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at 8 p.m. The beloved 1966 Christmas special is based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name and is animated by the legendary Chuck Jones with Boris Karloff as the Grinch and the narrator, and voice legend June Foray as Cindy Lou Who. The famous theme song “You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch” is performed by Thurl Ravenscroft, who’s best known as the voice of Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes spokesman, Tony the Tiger. An encore presentation of The Grinch will air on Dec. 25 at 8 p.m.
Nov. 24 could be the busiest holiday viewing day of the years because over at ABC, the beloved Rankin-Bass classic Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town is comin’. The 8 p.m. showing follows the origins of Kris Kringle’s rise to fame as Santa Claus. The classic special is narrated by Fred Astaire.
On Nov. 28, get ready for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The 1964 classic, narrated by Burl Ives, is based on the holiday song by Johnny Marks. Rudolph, which originally aired on Dec. 6, 1964, is the longest-running Christmas TV special of all time, according to CBS News. The stop-motion TV special is based on a children’s story as well as Gene Autry’s 1949 Christmas song as it recounts the tale of ostracized reindeer Rudolph, who isn’t invited to join in any reindeer games because of his bright red nose. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer airs at 8 p.m on CBS. The lesser-known Robbie the Reindeer turns up for back-to-back specials on Saturday, Nov. 26 starting at 8 p.m.
On Thursday, Nov. 30, it’s the Christmas special by which all others are measured. A Charlie Brown Christmas, which first aired on Dec. 9, 1965, will air at 8 p.m. on ABC. The special set itself apart with a scene featuring Linus reciting scripture from the New Testament. Producer Lee Mendelson told the Washington Post that Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was adamant about including the character’s reading from the Gospel of Luke, saying, “If we don’t do it, who will?” You can see the famous scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas below.
On Dec. 1, Freeform presents a follow-up Rankin Bass special, 1974’s The Year Without a Santa Claus. Classic TV fans may recall Santa’s elves have to get past the dreaded Heat Miser and Snow Miser in this special— or Christmas will be canceled. Freeform will air the 1974 classic at 3:35 p.m. ET on December 1 as part of the network’s 25 Days of Christmas.
[Featured Image by Rankin Bass Productions/ABC Family]