Top 10 Christmas Films To Watch For Free On TV

The chances are your favourite Christmas films are on TV at some point over the festive period. But when and on what channel. Here’s our handy guide to the best Christmas films to watch for free on TV this year…

With an abundance of ways to watch your favourite Christmas movie this year, there’s no reason why you won’t get the chance to sit down, relax, and have your imagination taken for a wild ride to the North Pole. But unless you’ve got the film you love on DVD or Blu-ray, you might have to spend some of that hard-earned cash to watch those Christmas classics on, for example, Sky Cinema or Netflix. Thankfully, terrestrial TV (remember that!) is still alive and well and, importantly, FREE. With that in mind, we take a look at the top 10 Christmas films to watch for free on TV this year!

*The following films/times are correct as of Dec 10 and relate to UK free-to-air channels – BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5

December 17

A Christmas Carol (the Jim Carrey one)

8.55pm, BBC Two

christmas films to watch for free on TVThere are a lot of movie adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Robert Zemeckis’ animated version is one of them. Indeed, it’s one of our top 10 versions of A Christmas Carol and it’s on BBC Two at 8.55pm on December 17. Jim Carrey gets to do what Jim Carrey does as the classic Scrooge!
Discover More: Top 10 Versions Of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

December 18

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

2.55pm, ITV

National Lampoons Christmas vacation, christmas films to watch for free on TVITV are screening the festive sequel to National Lampoon’s Vacation in the afternoon of December 18. Starring the great Chevy Chase on typically energetic form (and in arguably his best film role as Griswold patriarch Clark W.), it isn’t surprising why this fun Christmas movie has become an audience favourite. It captures that sense of family – close and distant – coming together for the holiday season to create that great festive tradition – domestic chaos.
Discover More: Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1980s

Miracle On 34th Street (the Richard Attenborough one)

3.50pm, Film4

Miracle on 34th Street, christmas films to watch for free on TVAn alternative for the afternoon of December 18 is Miracle on 34th Street – the Richard Attenborough version. This delightful tale captures the magical make-believe of Christmas (no, I’m not talking about baby Jesus and the three wise men) but the existence of Santa Claus; the bearded fat man who home-invades everyone on December 25th, leaving presents in his wake. Attenborough is a hoot as the is-he-isn’t-he Santa while child star Mara Wilson, who seems to exude her own version of cuddly cute, gives the film a wide-eyed sense of childlike glee.
Discover More: Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1990s

Santa Claus: The Movie

4.45pm, ITV

Santa Claus, The Movie, christmas films to watch for free on TVIf you decided to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation instead of Miracle on 34th Street, then next on your schedule of Christmas films to watch for free on TV is the trashy, flawed but still rather endearing Santa Claus: The Movie. There was a lot of money thrown at this film and most of it was used to make it look good. Indeed, its production values are its greatest asset – Santa’s home has rarely looked this delightful – and the special effects, for 1985, bring the film to life.
Discover More: Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1980s

December 19

Miracle on 34th Street (the original 1947 version)

12.10pm, Channel 4

christmas films to watch for free on TVOriginals are usually the best. This 1947 film, originally called The Big Heart on its release in the UK, follows the exploits of Edmund Gwenn’s Kris Kringle as he tries to convince everyone he’s the real Santa Claus.
Discover More: Top 10 Christmas Movies You Have to See

December 23

The Polar Express

6.55pm, ITV2

The Polar Express, christmas films to watch for free on TVRobert Zemeckis pushes animation technique to its 2004 limits in The Polar Express, a film which sees Tom Hanks play six different roles including the conductor of the titular “Express” which takes children on a magical journey to the North Pole.
Discover More: Top 10 Tom Hanks Films 1990 – 2010 | Top 10 Robert Zemeckis Films

Christmas Eve


2.45pm, Channel 4

christmas films to watch for free on TVThank you Channel 4 for screening the best Christmas film of all time! Well, it is in my eyes. This Christmas classic stars Bill Murray as the Scrooge of the story which updates Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to turn the old curmudgeon into a 80s TV network exec who hates the festive period and wants everyone to know about it. If there’s one Christmas film to see it is Scrooged, a deliciously dark but wildly funny contemporary adaptation of the novel featuring a standout performance from Murray. The depictions of the ghosts of Christmas past and present are worth the price of admission alone. Given this is one of our top 10 Christmas films to watch for free on TV, there’s really no excuses: if you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favour and watch it this year. If you’ve seen it before, all you need to do is put 2.45pm on Christmas Eve into your diary.
Discover More: Bill Murray’s Top 10 Sarcastic Remarks

The Muppet Christmas Carol

5.50pm, Channel 4

The Muppets Christmas Carol, christmas films to watch for free on TVIn terms of freeview TV in the UK on Christmas Eve you really only need Channel 4 as the channel follows Scrooged with The Muppet Christmas Carol. This alternative but traditional take on the festive classic sees the Muppets play some of the key roles around Michael Caine’s Scrooge.
Discover More: Top 10 Films of Michael Caine

Christmas Day

It’s a Wonderful Life

2.20pm, Channel 4

christmas films to watch for free on TVDelay the turkey so you can watch the seminal Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life on Channel 4 at 2.20pm on Christmas Day. Starring Hollywood nice guy Jimmy Stewart, the film tells the story of a man who feels like he’s reached a dead end in life and decides to commit suicide. But, after the intervention by his Guardian Angel, he is shown how he has positively impacted upon so many people’s lives during his lifetime. He ultimately rekindles his zest for life.
Discover More: Top 10 Christmas Movies You Have to See

Home Alone

6pm, Channel 4

Home Alone, christmas films to watch for free on TVHome Alone, screening on Channel 4 at 6pm on Christmas Day, will be a perfect after-dinner treat as you wait for the turkey sandwich supper! A lot of people’s favourite Christmas movie, this sparkling tale of childhood imagination sees a young kid having to defend his family home from two bumbling cat burglars after he’s accidentally left “home alone”. It’s the ingenious homemade traps that make Home Alone such a delight; fun for adults to see while being devilishly inspiring to the imaginations of children.
Discover More: Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1990s

There you have it – our choices of best Christmas films to watch for free on TV this year. What have we missed? What film is your favourite? Let us know…

About the Author
Rory Fish has loved movies since he can remember. If he was to put together an "all time" top 10 of absolute favourites it would have to include North By Northwest, 12 Angry Men and Sunset Boulevard.

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  1. Avatar
    Neal Damiano Reply

    Nice to see Christmas Vacation and It’s A Wonderful Life. One an all time classic and one a modern classic.

    Thanks Rory

  2. Avatar
    Lee Hicks Reply

    I’ll be watching Scrooged!

    Is no one showing Elf?!

  3. Avatar
    Callum Reply

    Watched Santa Claus – there’s something nice and festive about it but it’s still rather rubbish.

  4. Avatar
    ruth Reply

    Boy I still need to see Scrooged! Great list here Rory. Happy Christmas to you and Dan!

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