Rudolph, Snoopy and Mariah Carey help celebrate the holidays: What's on TV and when?

Bill Keveney

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas as TV networks and streaming services roll out a colorfully wrapped array of holiday specials from now until the end of the year.

TV's holiday firmament features bright stars such as Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Matthew Morrison, along with "Stars Wars" Lego characters, Minions, Rugrats, and plenty of music. 

Also look for perennial holiday classics like "It's A Wonderful Life," "A Christmas Story and "The Sound of Music" along with animated specials.  

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Mariah Carey, seen here during her 2018 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' tour in 2018, has a new Christmas special scheduled for Dec. 4 on Apple TV+.

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Here's the menu of upcoming treats:

New gifts

'Tis the season for huge brand names, and Disney+ makes sure the seasonal Force is with you with "The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” (now streaming).  

Traditionalists will relish the return of the legendary 1966 cartoon, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" (streaming on Amazon), but those curious to see an update can catch NBC's "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Musical!" (Dec. 9, 8 EST/PST) from the Troubadour Theatre in London, with Matthew Morrison ("Glee") as the tiny-hearted title character. 

Booboo Stewart as Young Max, Matthew Morrison as Grinch in NBC's musical remake of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

Fruitcake isn't the only place to find dates during the holidays as HBO Max introduces "12 Dates of Christmas" (now streaming), an eight-episode series that features "three hopefully romantic singles (searching for) someone to bring home for the holidays." Sounds like "Love Actually" as a reality competition.

The Grinch, right, seen with his long-suffering dog, Max, in the 1966 animated classic, arrives in many forms, including an NBC stage musical, during the upcoming holiday season.

The popular Minions movie characters get into the holiday TV game with “Illumination Presents Minions Holiday Special,” available on NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock.

Musical merriment

Singing stars take center stage to help viewers celebrate the holidays.

PBS celebrates the holiday with different musical styles. The 17th annual "Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir," featuring actors Kelli O'Hara and Richard Thomas, premieres Dec. 14 (9 EST/PST, check local listings), with "Ella Wishes you a Swingin' Christmas with Vanessa Williams," a celebration of classic holiday tunes from Ella Fitzgerald, arriving Dec. 15 (8 EST/PST, check local listings).

In HBO Max's "My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood” (now streaming), the Grammy-winning singer combines traditional holiday favorites with original material from her first full-length Christmas album, "My Gift," which was released this fall. John Legend joins Underwood for a duet.

Apple TV+ unwrapped “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special” on Dec. 4. The music superstar, long associated with the holiday, is joined by Tiffany Haddish, Billy Eichner, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg and Misty Copeland.

If that's not enough superstar power, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood return to CBS for a new one-hour concert special, "Garth & Trisha Live! A Holiday Concert Event" Dec. 20 (8:30 EST/8 PST delayed). Fans also can stream both on CBS All Access.

Classics in waiting

These returning shows are trying to cement a permanent place in the holiday TV pantheon. 

“The Great Christmas Light Fight,” ABC's popular decorating competition, returns for its eighth season on Dec. 9 (8 EST/PST).

ABC launches a new season of "The Great Christmas Light Fight" on Dec. 9.

As part of its annual "Nickmas" rollout of more than 100 hours of seasonal content, Nickelodeon presents classics including "Rugrats Chanukah" (Dec. 10 and 17, 10 EST/PST).  

"A Charlie Brown Christmas," is available to Apple TV+ subscribers, with free viewing Dec. 11 to 13, along with a PBS broadcast Dec. 13 (7:30 EST/PST, check local listings).

 "A Christmas Story" arrives for its annual 24-hour marathon Dec. 24 on TBS (8 EST/PST) and TNT (9 EST/PST).

Need more holiday classics? Get your annual Edelweiss fix when ABC broadcasts the incomparable Julie Andrews in 1965's "The Sound of Music" (Dec. 20, 7 EST/PST)

Finally, NBC continues a Christmas Eve tradition with a Jimmy Stewart film that's synonymous with the holiday, "It's a Wonderful Life" (8 EST/PST).