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8 Great Holiday TV Music Specials for 2023

It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas


spinner image Wynonna Judd and Hannah Waddingham
(Left to right) Wynonna Judd and Hannah Waddingham
Jim Wright/NBC; Robert Viglasky/Apple TV+

Holiday TV specials used to mean nostalgic classics like 1965’s animated A Charlie Brown Christmas and marathon airings of A Christmas Story. Then singers began muscling into the seasonal offerings, and soon TV programming with caroling crooners, folkies, rockers and yodelers grew as bloated as the Grinch’s bag of booty. This year, the small screen is home to a host of music specials spotlighting a variety of genres and artists. Here are eight bell-jingling options.

Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas

Why it’s special: The Emmy-winning actress, who plays soccer team owner Rebecca Welton on Ted Lasso, sings and vamps in a festive black-tie hour of live musical theater at the 1904 London Coliseum.

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Star power: Waddingham is joined on stage by Leslie Odom Jr., Sam Ryder, Luke Evans and a few of her Lasso castmates, including Phil Dunster (Jamie Tartt on the show), who sings and dances. And she’s accompanied by an 18-piece band, the English National Opera, the Fabulous Lounge Swingers and the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

Watch: Streaming on Apple TV+

spinner image Michael Bolton and Mickey Guyton on the set of “The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration”
(Left to right) Michael Bolton and Mickey Guyton
Disney Parks/ABC

The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration

Why it’s special: In addition to a sleigh-load of musical guests, the two-hour revue touts an appearance by DJ Khaled and Ariana DeBose delivering “This Wish” from Walt Disney’s new animated Wish movie. The show also revives the 2016 performance of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey.

Star power: Expect plenty of yuletide warbling, including Michael Bolton and Mickey Guyton on “Christmas Isn’t Christmas,” Andra Day and Adam Blackstone on “Someday at Christmas” and “Legacy Christmastime,” Chris Janson on “Holiday Road” and Tori Kelly on “This Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland.”

Watch: 8 p.m. ET/PT Nov. 26 on ABC. Streaming on Hulu and Disney+ starting Nov. 27.

spinner image "Christmas at Graceland" Key Art
NBCUniversal

Christmas at Graceland

Why it’s special: The live show is the first televised concert to air from the Graceland estate. Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, Riley Keough, is executive producer and will appear on the special, which also promises previously unreleased broadcast footage of Presley.

Star power: Among those performing in tribute to the King are John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Alanis Morissette, Kane Brown, Lainey Wilson, Lana Del Rey, Post Malone and the War and Treaty. 

Watch: 10 p.m. ET/PT Nov. 29 on NBC, simulcast on Peacock. Airs again at 8 p.m. ET/PT Dec. 21 on NBC, simulcast on Peacock.

spinner image Wynonna Judd hosts "Christmas at the Opry" on NBC
Wynonna Judd
Jim Wright/NBC

Christmas at the Opry

Why it’s special: The two-hour celebrity-packed musical event, hosted by Wynonna Judd, serves up Christmas classics and modern hits on the venerable stage of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

Star power: Kelly Clarkson, Chrissy Metz, Brenda Lee and Mickey Guyton will perform, along with Adam Doleac, Breland, Chris Janson, Lauren Alaina, Meghan Patrick, Mitchell Tenpenny and Trace Adkins.

Watch: 8 p.m. ET/PT Dec. 7 on NBC. Starts streaming Dec. 8 on Peacock. Encore broadcast 9 p.m. ET/PT Dec. 20 on NBC.

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spinner image Barry Manilow
Barry Manilow
Martin Schoeller/NBC

Barry Manilow’s A Very Barry Christmas

Why it’s special: Fanilows will be treated to an hour of Barry Manilow on stage at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, where he will be backed by his 24-piece band for a show that includes such hits as “Mandy,” “Copacabana” and “I Write the Songs” plus holiday favorites from “Jingle Bells” to “White Christmas.”

Star power: Manilow may be joined by a bearded heavyweight from the North Pole.

Watch: 10 p.m. ET/PT Dec. 11 on NBC with an encore at 8 p.m. ET/PT Dec. 20. Starts streaming Dec. 12 on Peacock.

CMA Country Christmas

Why it’s special: The Country Music Association’s down-home hoedown, filmed in front of a live Nashville audience, has become a holiday tradition since bowing in 2010. Amy Grant and Trisha Yearwood are hosts this year.

Star power: The hosts are on tap to perform, along with Jordan Davis, Lady A, Ashley McBryde, Jon Pardi, Lindsey Stirling, the War and Treaty, Zach Williams and Lainey Wilson.

Watch: 8 p.m. ET/PT Dec. 14 on ABC. Starts streaming Dec. 15 on Hulu and Disney+.

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iHeart Radio Jingle Ball

Why it’s special: The Jingle Ball was launched more than 20 years ago by New York pop station Z100 as a holiday concert featuring the year’s top artists and grew into a sold-out, multicity national tour of hitmakers. Footage from this year’s 11 concerts will be packaged into the two-hour concert special.

Star power: This year’s roster includes Olivia Rodrigo, Usher, Nicki Minaj, SZA, Niall Horan, OneRepublic, Sabrina Carpenter, Miguel, Jelly Roll, Big Time Rush, Flo Rida and others making stops in Tampa, Florida, Fort Worth, Texas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Washington, D.C.

Watch: 8 p.m. Dec. 21 ET/PT on ABC. On demand and on Hulu starting Dec. 22.

spinner image Julianne Hough and Derek Hough
Julianne Hough and Derek Hough
Disney Parks/ABC

Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade

Why it’s special: The two-hour holiday show’s 40th anniversary, hosted by Mickey Guyton and Jesse Palmer, switches from a Christmas parade with Walt Disney characters to musical performances by popular singers.

Star power: The program includes Derek Hough and Julianne Hough’s medley of “Good Morning” and “Deck the Halls,” Chrissy Metz singing “Silver Bells,” the Smashing Pumpkins performing new original holiday song “Evergreen,” and “Friend Like Me” by the Broadway and North American tour cast of Disney’s Aladdin.

Watch: 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. PT Dec. 25. Streaming on Disney+ and Hulu Dec. 26.

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