The Finest Animated Christmas Movies

As the temperatures drop and the aroma of hot cocoa fills the air, it’s time to indulge in the magic of animated Christmas movies. This guide covers an array of delightful films spanning various animation styles and eras. From timeless classics to modern gems, each movie on this list brings its unique charm to the festive season. So, let’s embark on a journey through the best animated Christmas movies and explore where to watch them.

1. The Polar Express (2004)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, The Polar Express follows the story of a young boy’s magical journey to the North Pole on a mysterious train. Released in 2004, the film’s animation style, though occasionally deemed unsettling by some, has stood the test of time. The musical numbers and compelling voice acting make it a heartwarming experience, perfect for families during the holiday season.

2. Rise Of The Guardians (2012)

DreamWorks Animation presents Rise of the Guardians, a captivating tale featuring holiday figures like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost. While not exclusively a Christmas movie, its festive elements and well-executed animation make it a delightful choice for the holiday season. The movie’s underrated status adds an element of discovery for viewers.

3. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, a 1999 anthology film, weaves together three heartwarming shorts starring beloved Disney characters. The film, clocking in at an hour and a half, offers Christmas tales featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. Despite the plethora of Disney movies, this anthology remains a sweet and cheerful addition to the festive lineup.

4. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

Venturing into stop-motion animation, The Year Without a Santa Claus recounts the tale of Santa falling ill, prompting Mrs. Claus to rally the North Pole residents for a heartwarming mission. Though classified as a TV movie due to its duration, this 1974 gem provides a unique and original perspective on the holiday season.

5. Arthur Christmas (2011)

Sony Pictures delivers Arthur Christmas, a heartening film centered around Arthur Claus, Santa’s son. Arthur’s endearing character, coupled with a plot involving the delivery of a misplaced gift, brings a touching narrative to life. Released in 2011, the film not only warms the soul but also showcases the impressive voice performance of James McAvoy.

6. Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis and featuring Jim Carrey in various roles, Disney’s A Christmas Carol is a visually stunning adaptation of the classic tale. The use of motion-capture animation adds a unique touch to this timeless story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformative Christmas Eve journey. Jim Carrey’s multifaceted performance enhances the film’s appeal.

7. The Grinch (2018)

Illumination’s 2018 adaptation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas brings Dr. Seuss’s classic story to life with vibrant 3D animation. This rendition captures the spirit of the original tale, offering a visually appealing and heartwarming experience. The Grinch, a familiar character, undergoes a delightful transformation in this animated gem.

8. Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)

Narrated by Fred Astaire, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town unfolds the origin story of Santa Claus and his traditions. Despite its relatively short duration, the film radiates holiday joy and captures the essence of Christmas spirit through a delightful combination of storytelling and music.

9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

A stop-motion classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, tells the tale of Rudolph, whose unique red nose initially leads to exclusion but ultimately becomes the savior of Christmas. Released in 1964, this heartwarming film remains a cherished part of holiday traditions, with its exceptional stop-motion animation and memorable music.

10. Klaus (2019)

A Netflix original, Klaus, offers an enchanting origin story of Santa Claus set in the 19th century. The film explores the friendship between a postman and a toymaker, delivering a fresh take on the Christmas lore. With stunning animation and a compelling narrative, Klaus stands out as a must-watch for those seeking a new addition to their holiday movie lineup.

11. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Closing our list is the beloved stop-motion film, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton, this iconic film follows Jack Skellington’s discovery of Christmas Town and his attempt to infuse Halloween Town with the festive spirit. The film’s unique blend of eerie aesthetics and festive themes makes it a perennial favorite during both Halloween and Christmas.

Honorable Mentions: Frosty The Snowman and A Charlie Brown Christmas

While not full-length movies, Frosty The Snowman and A Charlie Brown Christmas are timeless TV specials that deserve a special mention. These classics, though brief, continue to enchant audiences with their endearing characters and heartwarming tales, making them indispensable parts of the holiday season.


With an array of animated Christmas movies spanning different styles and decades, this curated list offers a mix of classics and underrated gems. Whether you prefer the nostalgic charm of stop-motion animation or the vibrant appeal of modern 3D renditions, these films are sure to add joy and warmth to your holiday celebrations. So, grab a mug of hot cocoa, settle in, and immerse yourself in the magical world of animated Christmas movies.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
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