How to Watch Classic Holiday Specials for Free

How to Watch Classic Holiday Specials for Free
Screenshot: CBS

It’s almost Halloween, which means we’re about to enter the roughly two-month period at the end of every year known as The Holidays. Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa New Year’s Eve/Day — as soon as one hits, the next seems to arrive, until they all begin to run together. Or maybe they won’t this year, since we’ll mostly be at home (we hope) instead of gallivanting around town to different holiday parties.

As long as we’re going to be holed up at home, we might as well enjoy some classic holiday specials while we’re there — and which are even better if they’re free. A quick note, though: given the nature of these “classic” (i.e. older) specials, in most cases, “holiday” refers to Christmas, so apologies for the lack of representation. Anyway, here are a few that will give your seasonal spirit a kick in the pants.

Peanuts holiday specials

Apple TV+ is making three Peanuts holiday specials free (even for non-subscribers) this holiday season. First up is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which will be streaming for free between October 30 and November 1. Then comes A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, available to everyone between November 25 and November 27 (although it’s always available for free via the Internet Archive VHS Vault).

Finally, there’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, which will be free to watch between December 11 and December 13. Mark your calendars! But if you miss A Charlie Brown Christmas, or want to watch it another time, it’s also free to stream on the Internet Archive VHS Vault.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Sure, it’s probably going to be on live TV this season, but this version from the Internet Archive VHS Vault is available when you are, and comes with commercials from the 1980s.

A Smokey Mountain Christmas

This 1986 made-for-TV movie musical stars Dolly Parton. That’s all you need to know. But it also features Lee Majors and was directed by the Fonz himself, Henry Winkler, who also has a cameo in the film. It’s also on YouTube.


This 1984 cartoon addresses the origins of Hanukkah. Judd Hirsch is the narrator, and Leonard Nimoy also lends his vocal talents to the special.

A Special Sesame Street Christmas

No, not Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, but they did both air in the same year (1978). This one features cameos by Ethel Merman, Michael Jackson, Henry Fonda and Leslie Uggams, and is available via the Internet Archive VHS Vault.

Star Wars Holiday Trilogy

This presentation of the Star Wars trilogy originally aired on the USA Network in 1993; the Internet Archive VHS Vault includes the entire run in one 7+ hour video, including the original commercials.

A Festive Fraggle Holiday

We’ve never needed the optimism of the Fraggles more than right now, so it’s the perfect time to revisit their 1993 holiday special, courtesy of the Internet Archive VHS Vault.

Ernest Saves Christmas

This 1988 classic is available on YouTube.

Frosty the Snowman

Will we have actual snow this holiday season? Who knows. But we’ll still have Frosty, courtesy of this 1969 special in the Internet Archive VHS Vault.

Winnie the Pooh: Holiday Special Edition

This Internet Archive video contains 1991’s Winnie the Pooh, and Christmas Too, followed by 1999’s Frankenpooh.

Miracle on 34th Street

Nope, not the 1947 classic starring Maureen O’Hara or the 1994 remake with Mara Wilson. This one is a made-for-TV movie from 1973, and is available on YouTube.

The Waltons’ Christmas Movie: The Homecoming

If your particular brand of nostalgia involves watching a show from the 1970s depict life in the 1930s, you probably liked The Waltons, and would appreciate their 1971 Christmas special, streaming on YouTube.

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