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WTTW Celebrates the Holidays!

Throughout December and on New Year’s Day, Chicago’s premier public television station
offers a variety of special holiday content for the whole family.

For immediate release
Chicago, IL - December 11, 2014

CHICAGO – December 9, 2014 – Celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year with WTTW!  One of the most-watched public television stations in the country, WTTW today announced its slate of holiday programming for December 2014 into New Year’s Day 2015.  There is a wide variety of quality entertainment sure to engage everyone in the family, including sacred and secular music specials, documentaries, seasonal cooking programs, holiday installments of popular series from the U.K., broadcasts of special events, and a lineup of programming especially for children.  In addition, there are several programs available only on WTTW’s Prime channel (11.2/Comcast 370/RCN 37).

Here is the schedule in chronological order (Prime and Children’s programming to follow, listed separately):

Rick Steves’ European Christmas
Saturday, December 13 from 2:30-4:05 pm
Popular travel expert and author Rick Steves presents an intimate look at how seven diverse cultures celebrate Christmas, from England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps.

Great Performances: Rejoice with Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot
Sunday, December 14 from 3:00-4:30 pm
Violinist Itzhak Perlman and cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot join forces for a musical exploration of liturgical and traditional works in new arrangements for both chamber orchestra and klezmer settings.

Mike Leonard’s “Nothing Special”
Tuesday, December 16 from 10:00-10:30 pm
Saturday, December 20 from 5:30-6:00 pm
Friday, December 26 from 8:30-9:00 pm
Sunday, December 28 from 5:30-6:00 pm
Local documentarian Mike Leonard (The Ride of Our Lives, Old St. Patrick’s Church: A Chicago Renaissance Story) has been telling quirky human interest stories on NBC’s Today for many years. In this timely new holiday special, Mike profiles people who give something of themselves.

Renée Fleming: Christmas in New York
Wednesday, December 17 from 8:00-9:00 pm
For this holiday special, American soprano Renée Fleming and special guests bring the iconic Christmas season in New York to homes across America. Live musical performances, interviews, and scenes filmed around the city during the holidays make this an unforgettable musical experience.

The First Silent Night
Thursday, December 18 from 8:00-9:00 pm
Wednesday, December 24 from 8:30-9:30 pm
The story, two centuries in the making, of the creation of the world's most popular carol -- one that, more than any other, can be said to have united millions of people in the joy and meaning of Christmas.  Renowned British actor Simon Callow journeys to the Austrian village of Oberndorf as well the city of Salzburg to uncover the moving origins of “Silent Night.”

The National Christmas Tree Lighting 2014
Friday, December 19 from 8:00-9:00 pm
This special features performances by Tom Hanks, Patti LaBelle, Ne-Yo, The Tenors, Fifth Harmony, Chely Wright, and more. The evening's festivities will be capped off with the ceremonial lighting of the National Christmas Tree by the President and First Family.

Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir featuring Deborah Voigt and John Rhys-Davies
Friday, December 19 from 9:00-10:00 pm
Wednesday, December 24 from 9:30-10:30 pm
Soprano Deborah Voigt and acclaimed British actor John Rhys-Davies join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for a Christmas concert of holiday favorites.

Christmas in Norway with the St. Olaf Choir
Friday, December 19 from 10:00-11:00 pm
Wednesday, December 24 from 10:30-11:30 pm
This Christmas special was filmed in Trondheim, Norway's magnificent Nidaros Dom cathedral, features the renowned voices of the St. Olaf Choir, the premier mixed voice choral ensemble from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, conducted by Anton Armstrong, and Jentekor, the girl choir of Nidaros conducted by Anita Brevik.

A Chef’s Life: Holiday Special
Saturday, December 20 from 1:00-2:00 pm
Sunday, December 21 from 12:00 noon-1:00 pm
Doing what she knows best, Chef Vivian Howard hosts her own vision of the season's celebrations, exploring holiday traditions, Kinston, NC style.

Keeping Up Appearances Holiday Special
Saturday, December 20 from 7:30-8:00 pm
Hyacinth hires a Father Christmas outfit for Richard to wear when distributing gifts to the old people at the Church Hall. Against his will, Richard puts it on, but after one too many sherries with Emmet, Elizabeth must don the outfit and pretend to be him.

Xmas Without China
Saturday, December 20 from 11:00 pm-12:00 midnight
Tom Xia challenges the Americans in his Southern California suburb to celebrate Christmas without any Chinese products, challenging the way they live everyday life.

Alsatian Christmas Table with Chef Hubert Keller: Alsatian Christmas Dinner and Christmas Treats
Sunday, December 21 from 1:00-2:00 pm
Chef Hubert Keller prepares Roast Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing and serves it with Braised Fennel with Dried Figs.  Then, he demonstrates how to make the famous Petits Bonhommes, the brioche bread figures found in Alsace at Christmas time. Keller also reveals the secret recipe for making his famous Alsatian fruitcake.

A Christmas Carol: The Concert
Wednesday, December 24 from 7:00-8:30 pm
Dickens' classic tale has been adapted for a live orchestral concert with choir and soloists, performed for audiences in a concert setting. Filmed in Skokie and performed by leading lights from the Chicago and New York theater world, this celebration of classic storytelling provides audiences with both the comforts of a classic tale and the thrill of seeing and hearing it told like never before.

Handel’s Messiah: A United States Naval Academy Tradition
Wednesday, December 24 from 11:30 pm-12:30 am
The United States Naval Academy Glee Club, with members of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and world-renowned guest soloists, perform one of the greatest choral works in Western music, recorded at the beautiful chapel on the grounds of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

30th Annual Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant
Thursday, December 25 from 5:00-6:00 am
Staged by the First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, this concert features a 1,000-member cast of actors, dancers, musicians, singers, and even a young acrobatic troupe.

Call the Midwife Holiday Special
Thursday, December 25 from 7:00-8:30 pm
The popular series from the U.K. returns with its annual holiday special.  Rehearsals for the Sunday School Christmas concert are underway, creating inconvenience for the nuns and nurses of Nonnatus House. As the residents welcome the New Year, the question on everyone's mind is, what will 1960 bring?

Mr. Stink
Friday, December 26 from 7:00-8:00 pm
This holiday special from the U.K. is based on David Walliams’ bestselling book, telling the story of Chloe, a lonely little girl who meets the malodorous tramp Mr. Stink (Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey) and his clever dog Duchess, and lets them live in the family's garden shed.

Vicious Holiday Special
Sunday, December 28 from 10:30-11:00 pm
Freddie (Ian McKellen) and Stuart (Derek Jacobi) host a holiday soiree in their small central London flat. Ash (Iwan Rheon), their young upstairs neighbor, has volunteered to cook the meal, their feisty best friend Violet (Frances de la Tour) is up to her old tricks.

Live from Lincoln Center: Gershwin Celebration at the New York Philharmonic with Dianne Reeves
Wednesday, December 31 from 7:00-9:00 pm
Continuing a broadcasting tradition, Live from Lincoln Center presents the annual New York Philharmonic's New Year's Eve celebration concert. This year's gala rings in 2015 with George Gershwin favorites, featuring Dianne Reeves and Norm Lewis. Bramwell Tovey conducts.

Michael Feinstein: New Year’s Eve at the Rainbow Room
Wednesday, December 31 from 9:00-10:00 pm
Michael Feinstein headlines an all-star evening from New York’s famed Rainbow Room with Tony winner Christine Ebersole; American Idol sensation Jessica Sanchez; dynamic tap duo the Manzari Brothers; Oscar-nominated June Squibb; and more.

Great Performances from Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2015
Thursday, January 1 from 7:00-8:30 pm
The cherished tradition of ringing in the New Year at the opulent Musikverein with the Vienna Philharmonic continues, this year under the baton of guest conductor Zubin Mehta and featuring everyone's favorite Strauss Family waltzes accompanied by the beautiful dancing of the Vienna State Ballet. Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews returns as host.


European Christmas Markets
Thursday, December 18 from 6:30-7:00 pm
Visit charming markets in festively decorated cities and towns in Germany, France, and Switzerland.

Christmas on the Danube
Thursday, December 18 from 9:30-10:00 pm
Visit cities along the Danube River and explore stunning European landscape, history, and culture.

Christmas in Alsace with Chef Hubert Keller
Saturday, December 20 from 9:00-10:00 pm
Chef Keller visits the 600-year-old Christmas festival in his hometown of Ribeauville in Alsace.

Holiday Handbells: The Raleigh Ringers
Saturday, December 20 from 10:00-11:00 pm
Wednesday, December 24 from 9:00-10:00 pm
The acclaimed community handbell choir, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, performs holiday favorites.

Holiday Marathon
Sunday, December 18 from 10:30 am-6:00 pm
Enjoy this collection of holiday favorites from WTTW11 and WTTW Prime.

Libera: Angels Sing Christmas in Ireland
Wednesday, December 24 from 7:00-8:00 pm
One of the world's most accomplished and acclaimed boy choirs, Libera, performs Christmas songs.

Tonic Sol-Fa Christmas
Wednesday, December 24 from 8:00-9:00 pm
The popular a cappella foursome in concert, taped in Minneapolis. The program highlights the group's trademark humor and skilled musicianship as they perform a mix of traditional, secular, and original holiday songs.

Anderson University’s Candles and Carols
Thursday, December 25 from 12:00 midnight-1:00 am
The Indiana liberal arts institution’s music groups perform "Silent Night" and other traditional hymns in the campus auditorium illuminated by the glow of candlelight.

A St. Thomas Christmas
Thursday, December 25 from 1:00-2:00 am
This special features seven of the St. Paul, Minnesota university's vocal and instrumental ensembles performing familiar carols, as well as traditional and contemporary music for the Advent and Christmas seasons.


Peg + Cat + Holidays
Wednesday, December 17 from 11:00 am-12:00 noon
Friday, December 19 from 11:30 am-12:30 pm
Saturday, December 20 from 9:00-10:00 am

This special holiday episode features "The Christmas Problem," "The Hanukkah Problem," and "The Penguin Problem.” The series is designed to engage preschool children and teach them how to solve math-based problems with Peg, a chatty and tenacious five year-old, her feline pal, Cat, and her smart, handsome, cool friend Ramone.

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas
Wednesday, December 17 and Thursday, December 25 from 3:00-4:00 pm
Thursday, December 18 and 25 from 8:00-9:00 am
Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat are having a wonderful time getting ready for Christmas. There's only one dilemma -- neither of them can figure out what to give the other for a present! In the end, both gift-giving predicaments are simply and beautifully resolved, revealing the true spirit of the holiday season.

Elmo’s Christmas Countdown
Monday, December 22-Thursday, December 25 from 10:00-11:00 am
Thursday, December 25 from 2:00-3:00 pm
Stiller the Elf (Ben Stiller) is telling Stan the snowball how Christmas was almost ruined. He recounts how he visited Sesame Street because he believed Oscar the Grouch would start the official countdown to Christmas. However, Oscar tosses the magical counting blocks into the air and they disappear. Stiller is worried that he destroyed Christmas, and it is up to Elmo and Abby Cadabby to help him find the blocks and the true meaning of Christmas miracles. 

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas!
Tuesday, December 23 from 12:00 noon-1:00 pm
Wednesday, December 24 from 2:00-3:00 pm
The Cat in the Hat, Nick, and Sally journey around the world to help a lost reindeer find his way home to Freezeyourknees Snowland in time for Christmas. On the way, the Thingamajigger breaks down and they depend on a variety of animals -- from African bush elephants to bottlenose dolphins to red crabs -- and their remarkable abilities to help them make an amazing journey home.

Complete program schedules, extensive video, and information about all of WTTW’s platforms are available at


About WTTW

WTTW is a premier public media organization committed to creating and presenting unique television and digital media content across four distinct television channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, the Spanish-language channel WTTW Vme, and WTTW Create/WTTW WORLD, and on Recognized for award-winning local and national productions such as Chicago Tonight, Check, Please!, and MEXICO – One Plate at a Time, WTTW presents the very best in cultural, nature, science, public affairs, and children’s programming to almost 2 million weekly viewers across a four state area. WTTW is unique in its commitment to serving the children in our community, with half of its weekday broadcast schedule devoted to educational and non-commercial content. Visitors to can connect with others in the community and access a full library of local and national video content for kids and adults, interactive features, event and membership opportunities, and robust microsites dedicated to WTTW and PBS series and specials.