Celebrate the Holidays with WTTW

Daniel Hautzinger
Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas. Photo: Kevin Parisi/American Pops Orchestra
Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas. Photo: Kevin Parisi/American Pops Orchestra

Little about 2020 has been normal, but the holidays are still here to be enjoyed and celebrated, albeit in an adapted, safe manner. (Find some recommendations for COVID-friendly holiday activities in Chicagoland here.) WTTW has as much holiday cheer as you need this December, in the form of PBS KIDS specials, holiday concerts, festive travel shows, and more. Find the line-up below. 

Wild Kratts: A Creature Christmas

First airs Friday, December 4 at 7:00 am on WTTW

In this first of a block of kids' Christmas specials airing throughout the month, the Kratts set off to save their favorite animals, who are disappearing around the world.

Nature Cat: A Nature Carol

First airs Friday, December 4 at 8:00 am on WTTW

Nature Cat: A Nature Carol

Just like in the classic Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, the Nature Cat holiday special features spirits of the past, present, and future on Christmas Eve – only this time they’re focused on nature, and they’re embodied by Nature Cat’s friends Daisy, Squeeks, and Hal.

Let's Go Luna!: Luna's Christmas Around the World

First airs Friday, December 4 at 9:00 am on WTTW

Let's Go Luna! Luna's Christmas Around the World

Santa may not be at the South Pole, but when the kids of Let's Go Luna! get stuck there they learn about other Christmas traditions from around the globe. (Adults can learn about global holiday traditions alongside Studs Terkel in a collection of his radio interviews).

Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about Christmas

First airs Friday, December 4 at 11:00 am on WTTW

The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about Christmas

A lost reindeer needs help finding its way home in time for Christmas (no Rudolph, this reindeer).

Peg + Cat + Holidays

First airs Friday, December 4 at 12:00 pm on WTTW

Peg + Cat + Holiday

Hanukkah, Christmas, penguins—what more could you want in a holiday special? 

Rick Steves' European Christmas

Saturday, December 5 at 4:00 pm and Monday, December 7 at 8:00 pm on WTTW

Rick Steves' European Christmas

Visit wintry scenes and witness centuries-old traditions as Rick Steves visits England, France, Norway, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy during the holidays.

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas

First airs Tuesday, December 8 at 9:00 am on WTTW

In case your child (or you) want more Christmas even after watching all the kids' specials the previous week (and re-watching them), Curious George is here!

Hanukkah: A Festival of Delights

Saturday, December 12 at 4:30 pm on WTTW

A menorah in a window. Photo: Amanda FieldPhoto: Amanda Field

This features the likes of William Shatner, authors, rabbis, and others as they reminisce about their own Hanukkah traditions and explores its evolution into the holiday it is today.

Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir: Christmas Day in the Morning

First airs Monday, December 14 at 9:00 pm on WTTW

Richard Thomas in Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir. Photo: Intellectual ReservePhoto: Intellectual Reserve

Broadway star Kelli O'Hara and actor Richard Thomas join the Tabernacle Choir for an Americana-themed concert and celebration of Christmas.

Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas

Tuesday, December 15 at 8:00 pm on WTTW

Carmen Ruby Floyd in 'Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.' Photo: Kevin Parisi/American Pops OrchestraPhoto: Kevin Parisi/American Pops Orchestra

This tribute to Ella Fitzgerald celebrates a classic album of holiday chestnuts and features the American Pops Orchestra alongside guest stars and host Vanessa Williams. 

Marshall Field's Christmas Windows

Friday, December 18 at 8:30 pm and Thursday, December 24 at 7:30 pm on WTTW

Revisit the magic of Marshall Field's legendary holiday window displays over the decades in this selection from WTTW's archive. You can also stream it whenever and wherever you want.

Lidia Celebrates America: A Heartland Holiday Special

Saturday, December 19 at 4:00 pm on WTTW Prime

Join chef Lidia Bastianich as she takes part in the traditions of the diverse cultures that make up America today. 

Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas

Saturday, December 19 at 10:00 pm on WTTW

Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas

Take an irreverent look at the Jewish songwriters behind some of the most popular Christmas songs.

European Christmas Markets

First airs Sunday, December 20 at 1:30 pm on WTTW

In case there weren't enough markets in Rick Steves' Christmas special, or you're feeling bereft of an in-person visit to Chicago's Christkindlmarket this year (it's open virtually), this special gives you an extra dose of holiday cheer (and that long-forgotten thing, crowds).

Call the Midwife Holiday Specials 2018 and 2019

First airing Sunday, December 20 at 2:00 and 3:30 pm on WTTW

Call the Midwife Season 9 Holiday Special. Photo: Neal Street ProductionsPhoto: Neal Street Productions

The Call the Midwife holiday special that airs every Christmas Day is a cherished tradition here at WTTW. Why not relive the warmth and goodness of the previous two years' holiday specials before the premiere of a new one later in the week?

A Southern Celtic Christmas Special

Thursday, December 24 at 9:00 am on WTTW Prime

Seamus Heaney

Celebrate Christmas in Celtic and Appalachian style via music, poetry, dance, and song, in this special that includes the late Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and starts off a Christmas Eve block of holiday programming. 

Holiday Handbells: The Raleigh Ringers

Thursday, December 24 at 10:00 am on WTTW Prime

Holiday favorites chimed out on bells by a community group from North Carolina—can you get more festive than that?

Wheaton College Christmas Concert: Messiah, Prince of Peace

Thursday, December 24 at 11:00 am on WTTW Prime and 8:00 pm on WTTW

You may not be able to attend an in-person performance of Handel's Messiah this year, but you can still get a taste thanks to Illinois's Wheaton College.

Classic Christmas with the Bach Festival Society

Thursday, December 24 at 12:00 pm on WTTW Prime

Along with Handel, there's this concert of Bach favorites for the classical music lover.

Christmas at Concordia: Gather Us In, O Child of Peace

Thursday, December 24 at 1:00 pm on WTTW Prime

You can never have enough Christmas music on Christmas Eve, so here's another great concert. 

Christmastime in New Orleans

Thursday, December 24 at 2:00 pm on WTTW Prime

For something a little bit different, head down to New Orleans for some joyous music, exuberant food, and more.

Handel's Messiah

Thursday, December 24 at 2:30 pm on WTTW Prime

Jane Seymour narrates the story of George Friedric Handel alongside music from his most well-known work. 

A St. Thomas Christmas: Comfort & Joy

Thursday, December 24 at 4:00 pm on WTTW Prime

There are some outstanding school Christmas concerts out there, including this one from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which takes place at Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall.

The St. Olaf Christmas Festival: A New Song of Joy and Hope

Thursday, December 24 at 9:00 pm on WTTW

Colleges house amazing talent amongst their young students, abundantly on display in this Christmas concert from St. Olaf's in Minnesota. 

Christmas at Belmont

Thursday, December 24 at 10:00 pm on WTTW

Enjoy a wide variety of holiday music from Belmont University's School of Music, the Nashville Children's Choir, CeCe Winans, and Michael W. Smith. 

Call the Midwife Holiday Special 2020

Friday, December 25 at 8:00 pm on WTTW

Call the Midwife Season 10 Holiday Special. Photo: BBC Worldwide LimitedPhoto: BBC Worldwide Limited

Not only is this a new episode of Call the Midwife and a harbinger of a slate of new dramas coming to WTTW in January, it's also a harbinger of a new season of Call the Midwife, on its way in the spring.

Lucy Worsley's 12 Days of Tudor Christmas

Friday, December 25 at 9:30 pm on WTTW

Lucy Worsley's '12 Days of Tudor Christmas.' Photo: Burning Bright ProductionsPhoto: Burning Bright Productions

The historian Lucy Worsley dons period costume to explore the foods and traditions of the Tudor period, and how they have influenced our own holiday rituals.

United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America

Thursday, December 31 at 7:30 pm on WTTW

Patti LaBell in 'United in Song.' Photo: Dan Chung, Mount Vernon Ladies’ AssociationPhoto: Dan Chung, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association

Say goodbye to 2020 and celebrate a new year with this concert filmed at Mount Vernon under strict COVID-19 mitigation measures, featuring Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Anna Deavere Smith, Patti LaBelle, Juanes, and more.