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2013 Holiday TV Specials: A Guide to When Your Favorite Holiday Classics Are on TV

2013 Holiday Specials TV Schedule
ABC/CBS

Time to set your DVR!

For many families, the holiday season is all about decorating Christmas trees, hanging stockings by the chimney with care, roasting chestnuts on an open fire and, of course, settling down in front of the television for hours of seasonal entertainment. Like every year, the final weeks of 2013 are jam-packed with holiday TV specials – from classic animated shorts to holiday-themed specials to some of the greatest movies of all time. Don’t miss ‘The Grinch,’ ‘Frosty the Snowman’ or ‘Charlie Brown’ this year! Here’s your comprehensive schedule of when your favorite holiday classic will be on TV! 

Tuesday, November 26

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ — The holiday season gets an early start with a presentation of this iconic Rankin/Bass stop-motion Christmas classic. 8:00pm on CBS

Wednesday, November 27

‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ — John Hughes’ wonderful comedy about friendship and the trials and tribulations of holiday travel is the best way to get ready for Thanksgiving.  8:00pm on The CW

‘SNL Thanksgiving Special’ — Relive 39 years of classic Thanksgiving-themed sketches with this special presentation of ‘SNL’ seasonal highlights. 9:00pm on NBC

Thursday, November 28

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving (and the Christmas season doesn’t really start) until you and your family have watched this one. 9:00am on NBC.

‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ — This animated 1973 classic is the perfect distraction for your kids while you go recover from your turkey coma. 8:00pm on ABC.

‘Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular’ — If that combination of talent sounds like the kind of thing your family will enjoy, then you have an awesome family. 9:30pm on ABC.

Friday, November 29

‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (Animated) — Chuck Jones’ animated masterpiece remains the best Christmas short ever made. Don’t miss it. 8:00pm on ABC.

‘Shrek the Halls’ — If the Grinch is feeling a little old hat, another (more modern) green monster has a Christmas special of his own… 8:30pm on ABC.

Sunday, December 1

‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (Live Action) — Ron Howard’s adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ classic story puts Jim Carrey in the green suit. Shenanigans occur! 7:00pm on ABC Family.

Monday, December 2

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ — This perennial classic features, no kidding, the greatest Christmas Tree in TV history. Miss it at your own peril.  8:00pm on ABC.

‘The Santa Clause’ — Tim Allen’s modern semi-classic contorts the Santa Claus story in some surprising ways, making it a surefire hit for every member of your family. 8:00pm on ABC Family

Tuesday, December 3

‘Scrooged’ — Bill Murray headlines this hilarious, weird and moving update on Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ which moves the story of Scrooge to the ’80s. 8:00pm on ABC Family

Wednesday, December 4

Christmas in Rockefeller Center — The Christmas tree in New York City’s Rockefeller Center has been going up since 1933. Its lighting on live TV is something you’ve got to watch at least once. 8:00pm on NBC

‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ — You should put the younger kids to bed for this one, but if you want some slightly raunchier holiday entertainment, you can’t go wrong with one of Chevy Chase’s most popular comedies. 8:00pm on ABC Family

‘SNL Christmas Special’ — After 39 seasons, ‘SNL’ has accrued plenty of Christmas-related material. Watch the best of it here. 10:00pm on NBC

Thursday, December 5

‘Rudolph’s Shiny New Year’ — You’ve surely seen ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ but have you seen its sequel? This is your chance. 6:00pm on ABC Family

‘The Polar Express’ — Robert Zemeckis’ animated film extends Chris Van Allsburg’s classic picture book into a bonafide holiday adventure. 7:00pm on ABC Family

‘Glee’ Christmas Special — Originally filmed last year, this “lost” Christmas special will finally see the light of day. 9:00pm on Fox

Friday, December 6

‘Frosty’s Winter Wonderland’ — Frosty’s friends plan to build the sentient snowman a wife in this seasonal favorite. 6:00pm on ABC Family

‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ — This modern classic retells the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge with the help of the Muppets and a very game Michael Caine. 6:30pm on ABC Family

‘Frosty the Snowman’ — You surely know the song, so watch this immortal animated version of the snowman who came to life with the help of a magic hat. 8:00pm on CBS

Saturday, December 7

‘The Santa Clause’ — Encore presentation. 7:00pm on ABC Family

‘The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause’ — In his third adventure, Scott Calvin (AKA, Santa Clause) faces down a new competitor in the form a villain played by Martin Short. 9:00pm on ABC Family

Monday, December 9

‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (Live Action) — Encore presentation. 8:00pm on ABC Family

‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’ — If you’ve wondered about the origin story of Santa Claus, this classic stop motion movie will let you in on all of the juicy details. 8:00pm on ABC

Tuesday, December 10

‘The Year Without a Santa Claus’ — In one of the stranger Rankin/Bass stop motion Christmas movies, Santa Claus considers taking the year off, with disastrous results. 9:00pm on ABC Family

‘Santa Claus in Comin’ to Town’ — Encore presentation. 10:00pm on ABC Family

Saturday, December 14

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ — Frank Capra’s story of love, hope and friendship has become the definitive holiday movie of all time for a good reason: it’s one of the best movies ever made. 8:00pm on NBC

Sunday, December 15

‘The Simpsons’ Christmas Special — Few animated shows knock special holiday episodes out of the park quite like ‘The Simpsons,’ so we expect “White Christmas Blues” to be very worthy of your time. 8:00pm on FOX

‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ — Encore presentation. 8:00pm on ABC Family

Monday, December 16

‘The Santa Clause’ — Encore presentation. 7:00pm on ABC Family

‘The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause’ — In his second outing as Santa Claus, Tim Allen’s St. Nick needs to find a wife or risk losing his job at the North Pole. 9:00pm on ABC Family

‘Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas’ — Leave questions like “Why are ancient animals celebrating Christmas?” at the door and just let the young ‘Ice Age’ nuts in your household enjoy this holiday special. 9:00pm on FOX

Tuesday, December 17

‘The Polar Express’ — Encore presentation. 9:00pm on ABC Family

Wednesday, December 18

‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ — Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the rest of the Disney gang create their own version of Dickens’ classic tale. 7:30pm on ABC Family

A Home For the Holidays With Celine Dion — Celine Dion. Christmas music. Special guests. You already know if you’re in or out for this one. 8:00pm on CBS

Michael Buble’s 3rd Annual Christmas Special — Michael Buble. Christmas music. Special guests. You already know if you’re in or out for this one. 10:00pm on NBC

Thursday, December 19

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys’ — Rudolph and his friends return in this 2001 sequel, which finds the plucky reindeer traveling to, you guessed it, an island of misfit toys. 7:00pm on ABC Family

‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (Live Action) — Encore presentation. 8:30pm on ABC Family

Friday, December 20

‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ — Encore presentation. 9:00pm on ABC Family

Saturday, December 21

‘The Santa Clause’ Movie Trilogy Marathon — In case you missed their individual showtimes, all three of the ‘Santa Clause’ movies will screen back-to-back for one big smorgasbord of Tim Allen-themed Christmas fun.  6:00pm on ABC Family

‘I Want a Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown’ — The Peanuts gang returns in this holiday special, which finds Linus’ brother Rerun wanting a new dog for Christmas. 8:00pm on ABC

Sunday, December 22

‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (Live Action) — Encore presentation. 7:00pm on ABC Family

Monday, December 23

‘The Year Without a Santa Clause’ — Encore presentation. 7:00pm on ABC Family

‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ — Encore presentation. 8:00pm on ABC Family

‘Shrek the Halls’ — Encore presentation. 8:00pm on ABC

‘A Chipmunk Christmas’ — Introduce your kids to the original Alvin and the Chipmunks with this 1981 animated movie. 8:30pm on ABC

‘The Polar Express’ — Encore presentation. 10:00pm on ABC Family

Tuesday, December 24

‘The Santa Clause’ Movie Trilogy Marathon — Encore presentation. 5:00pm on ABC Family

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ — Encore presentation. 8:00pm on NBC

24 Hours of ‘A Christmas Story’ — Since ‘A Christmas Story’ is one of the most beloved holiday movies of all time, TBS will be showing on repeat for 24 hours starting on Christmas Eve. No excuses to miss this one, people. 8:00pm on TBS

‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (Animated) — Encore presentation. 8:00pm on ABC

‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (Live Action) — Encore presentation. 8:30pm on ABC

Wednesday, December 25

Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade — Taped inside Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, this annual celebration of the holiday season features dozens of your favorite Disney characters in a stunning parade. 10:00am on ABC

‘Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas’ — Encore presentation. 8:00pm on FOX

‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ — Encore presentation. 9:00pm on ABC Family

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