They never get old, do they? The Rankin-Bass animated specials have been an indispensible part of the holiday season for nearly 60 years, and they’re still enchanting new generations as well as those of us who grew up with them. Maybe you can’t imagine a holiday without the Heat Miser. Or that Little Drummer dude. Maybe it’s watching Santa take on Burgermeister Meisterburger that does it for you. Or maybe you just have to take in as much Rankin-Bass goodness as possible this time of year. Fortunately, there’s no shortage, largely in part due to ABC Family’s annual 25 Days of Christmas celebration. See below to find out when your favorite Rankin-Bass specials will air — and even a few that might not be well known to you.
(All times ET/PT.)
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
ABC Family (Dec. 3, 5pm; Dec. 15, 12pm)
Narrated by Oscar winner Joel Grey, this animated holiday special is adapted from the famous poem by Clement Moore.
Rudolph’s Shiny New Year
ABC Family (Dec. 3, 5:30pm; Dec. 4, 4:30pm; Dec. 9, 7pm; Dec. 22, 2pm)
When Baby New Year manages to run away from Father Time, Santa sends Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to chase after and recover the little one before New Year’s arrives.
ABC Family (Dec. 4, 6:30pm; Dec. 10, 6pm; Dec. 15, 1pm)
In this Rankin-Bass special, Pardon-Me-Pete the Groundhog tells the bittersweet story of how Jack Frost became human and helped a knight to win a lady’s hand.
Frosty’s Winter Wonderland
ABC Family (Dec. 4, 7:30pm; Dec. 10, 7pm; Dec. 15, 12:30pm; Dec. 18, 12pm)
Jack Frost is the villain in this special that has everyone’s favorite snowman, Frosty, planning to marry, unless the sinister Jack freezes Frosty lifeless. It’s up to the children to see if they can get their snowy pal to the church on time.
Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July
ABC Family (Dec. 6, 4pm; Dec. 15, 2pm)
Is there any holiday that Rudolph hasn’t been called in to save? Somehow he and Frosty get roped into rescuing a struggling circus at a special July 4 benefit in this Rankin-Bass summertime classic.
Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
ABC Family (Dec. 14, 8pm; Dec. 15, 10pm; Dec. 16, 2pm; Dec. 22, 5pm)
Fred Astaire — you know, the guy with all of the dance studios named after him? — is the narrator of this story of how Santa Claus came to be, with the epic struggle of overcoming the evil wizard Winter and the ruthless will of Burgermeister Meisterburger to bring toys to the children of Sombertown.
The Year Without a Santa Claus
ABC Family (Dec. 10, 8pm; Dec. 14, 7pm; Dec. 15, 11pm; Dec. 16, 1pm; Dec. 22, 4pm)
Pulitzer prize-winning author Phyllis McGinley wrote the children’s book on which this special is based, about the time that Mrs. Claus — who narrates this particular tale — almost donned her husband’s red suit to make the trip around the world in his stead.
The Little Drummer Boy
ABC Family (Dec. 15, 8am)
Based on the Christmas song, this special tells the story of Aaron, a poor boy who hopes to play a song on his drums for the newborn Jesus.
The Little Drummer Boy Book II
ABC Family (Dec. 15, 8:30am)
The Little Drummer Boy is back in the sequel to his famed adventure. This time, drums aren’t enough, so he and a wise man go on a quest for a set of clanging, pure silver bells to present to the baby Jesus.
Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
ABC Family (Dec. 15, 9am)
This time, Rankin-Bass tells the story of a special beast of burden — Nestor, the long-eared Christmas donkey who carried Mary on her way to Bethlehem.
ABC Family (Dec. 15, 9:30am)
That little wooden liar with the long nose and the big heart gets the Rankin-Bass treatment in this musical tale that has the puppet boy conned out of money he intended to use on a Christmas gift for Papa Geppetto.
The Story of the First Christmas Snow
ABC Family (Dec. 15, 11:30am)
Angela Lansbury narrates this touching story about a young, blind shepherd who, with the help of a Christmas miracle, is able to see and experience snow for the first time.
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
ABC Family (Dec. 18, 11am)
It’s a story worth telling and re-telling, apparently, to the Rankin-Bass team, as this 1985 special recounts the legend of Santa Claus and how he came to be the right jolly old elf that he is.
Photo: © Golden Books