The nights are long, the air is crisp, holiday lights are up: it's time to snuggle into your home with a mug of cocoa, a cookie, and some joyful holiday specials. We've collected some favorites that are available to stream by WTTW Passport members, from concerts to holiday episodes of our dramas and mysteries. And don't forget that we've also got a slate of holiday programming airing throughout the month, in case you'd rather let us choose for you what to watch!
We've got two separate holiday specials, from a decade apart. First, he appears with Bing Crosby in a 1957 special directed by Sinatra himself. Then he and his family join Dean Martin and his family in 1967 for another evening of song and merriment.
Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas with Vanessa Williams
This concert might be from 2020, but it hearkens back to the era of Sinatra as well, being a tribute to the beloved 1960 album Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald. This modern version features Vanessa Williams and other contemporary performers.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Ghosts of Christmas Eve
Another concert pulled from the archives is this 1999 rock opera by Trans-Siberian Orchestra featuring Jewel, Ossie Davis, and Michael Crawford.
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
This is another musical special relaying a holiday story, this time with a traditional orchestra. Based on the original E.T.A. Hoffmann book that inspired the inescapable Tchaikovsky ballet, the concert features Alan Cumming narrating the story.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's annual holiday concert also typically features an actor alongside the musical performances, and we have three recent versions, plus a twenty-year retrospective, for you to enjoy. Hugh Bonneville and Sutton Foster were the stars in 2018; Kristin Chenoweth took the lead in 2019; Kelli O'Hara and Richard Thomas appeared in the 2020 version filmed in 2019; and Brian Stokes Mitchell hosted a look back at numerous highlights.
College and University Performances
Some of the most popular annual holiday concerts come from colleges and universities, and we have several available to stream. There's one from St. Olaf in Minnesota, two from Belmont in Tennessee, and one from Wheaton outside Chicago.
Straight No Chaser: The 25th Anniversary
The a cappella group Straight No Chaser formed at a university (Indiana) before becoming nationally acclaimed. This anniversary celebration is holiday-themed.
Pasquale Esposito: In the Spirit of Christmas
Tenor Pasquale Esposito brings holiday cheer and visions of warmer weather in this special from Naples, which features both music and dance.
Dramas and Mysteries
Call the Midwife
As a lead-up to the newest Call the Midwife holiday special airing on December 25 at 8:00 pm on WTTW, the four most recent holiday specials are available to stream for a limited time! Plus, we have recaps of them if you need to catch up.
All Creatures Great and Small
Whereas Call the Midwife seasons start with a holiday special, seasons of All Creatures Great and Small end with one. Given that a new season is coming in January, this is the perfect time to revisit the Yorkshire Dales! Again, we have recaps.
Season 3 of Grantchester also began with an episode set at Christmas. (Sidney was still the vicar.) We've got a recap if you need help following the mystery.
Season 2 of Victoria wrapped up with Albert introducing Christmas traditions from his home of Germany to England. You can also recap that episode.
Mary Berry must love the holidays, because she has granted us several specials. There's Country House at Christmas as well as two episodes of her Absolute Favourites. (There's also Mary Berry's Ultimate Christmas, not yet available for streaming, which airs on WTTW December 19 at 9:00 pm.)
America's Test Kitchen
There are a few holiday-centric episodes of America's Test Kitchen currently available to stream, focusing on eggs for the holidays (think eggnog), desserts and salads, and Jewish baking (for Hanukkah). There's also an hour-long special.
New Scandinavian Cooking
There are two episodes of New Scandinavian Cooking on the holidays, and both are available to stream. (All nine seasons of the show can be streamed by Passport members.)
How She Rolls
Carrie Morey prepares for the holidays in this special episode from the second season of How She Rolls.
Lucy Worsley's 12 Days of Tudor Christmas
Lucy Worsley discovers the beginnings of some modern Christmas traditions in the Tudor era in this special.
Rick Steves' European Christmas
Join Rick Steves as he celebrates the holidays across Europe, discovering long-standing traditions along the way, in this special.
Merry Christmas Mr. Bean
Join Mr. Bean in some festively hilarious mishaps in this special holiday episode.
Welcome to My Winter Wonderland
A Christmas tree farm, holiday tips and tricks, and more are on offer in this special Welcome to My Farm episode.
The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross
Bob Ross paints a little church snuggled amongst Christmas Eve snow and the evergreens.