top of page

10 of the Best Animated Christmas Films to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

It’s that time of the year again – when you wake up to find a light coat of sparkling frost covering your car, the fireplaces are crackling and popping and keeping you warm and cosy, and the scrumptious mulled wine is bottomless everywhere you turn. It also means it’s socially acceptable to finally re-watch your favourite animated holiday films and maybe even stumble upon a few new ones to add to the list. From Jack Skellington discovering Christmas for the first time to a wary postman helping Santa deliver packages; here are some of the best animated films that will surely get you in the holiday spirit.

Arthur Christmas

Have you ever wondered how Santa delivers so many Christmas gifts in one night? It turns out, he needs more than elves and reindeer to hit his deadlines. Not only does Arthur Christmas explore the idea of Santa Claus using super-duper high-tech devices to keep his operation moving but gives us a glimpse into the family life of one of the most famous men in the world.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

After Jack Skellington gets bored of being the Pumpkin King and of all things that go bump in the night, he accidentally discovers a secret portal to a magical place called Christmasland. His life is forever changed as he finally finds the meaning of life and tries to bring the Christmas cheer to his friends Halloweenland and beyond.

The Polar Express

The Polar Express is the stunning animated adaptation of the beloved children’s book of the same name and follows a boy named Billy who struggles with believing whether or not Santa Claus is real. It’s not until Billy’s whisked away to the North Pole on Christmas Eve via a mysterious train that his faith will be put to the test. What will happen when Billy finally meets the real Santa?

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Everyone in Whoville knows about the Grinch. He hates Christmas. He detests smiles. He loathes laughter. Basically, anything that makes a Who happy, the Grinch will want to see it in flames. So, when Christmas, his least favourite time of the year arrives again, the Grinch devises a plan to steal all the presents, food, and holiday decorations in Whoville; thinking that will finally dampen their spirits. When the Who’s wake up Christmas morning and still come together, joining hands and singing in the city centre, the Grinch is faced with questioning the true meaning behind Christmas and his past actions.



Jesper might be the worst student at the Postal Academy, so naturally as his first official job as a postman he’s stationed on a deserted frozen island all the way in the Artic. Not only does Jesper have to deal with the frigid weather, but there’s also the vicious locals, who have been feuding with each other for generations. It’s not until he meets Klaus, a solitary carpenter, that he finds the true meaning of life and friendship.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Honestly, do we need to say anything about this film? It’s a Christmas classic. Charlie and crew are back, and this time it’s to celebrate Christmas with some solid Yuletide tunes as Charlie directs the Christmas play; hoping to get his holiday spirit back in time before the big day arrives. It simply isn’t Christmas without the soundtrack to this film playing softly in the background.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer might be the cutest, most charming stop-motion animated film of all time. You all know the song, but this film is Rankin & Bass’ animated re-telling of the Christmas classic about a reindeer who stands out from his pack because of his red nose and how he overcomes the odds, learning about self-confidence and acceptance along the way.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Disney’s heart-warming version of Charles Dickens’ classic book A Christmas Carol. You’ve got Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit and Scrooge McDuck as the notorious Ebenezer Scrooge. This short film was even nominated for an Oscar in 1983, so you know it’s jammed packed with all the Christmas heart and spirit you need this season.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Another magical animated film by Rankin & Bass, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town is about Santa Claus’ origin and is narrated by your friendly neighbourhood postman S.D. Kluger AKA the real-life song and dance man Fred Astaire. According to Kluger, Santa Claus came to be through his desires to bring cheerfulness to the kids of Sombertown. It wasn’t easy though, there was Burgermeister Meisterburger and the Winter Warlock to contend with before successfully spreading happiness and goodwill to all.

Rise of the Guardians

Often an underrated holiday film, Rise of the Guardians follows a group of unlikely heroes as they band together and attempt to save the earth from an evil spirt named Pitch, whose only goal is to corrupt children and assert dominance over all of humanity. You’ve got Jack Frost, The Easter Bunny, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and even the Sandman banding together to fight the Boogeyman; this isn’t your conventional Christmas film, but it’s loads of fun and full of warmth and wonder that will get you ready to leave your cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Did we forget any holiday movies? Or miss anything important about a certain film? What are your favourites? Let us know by sending us a tweet or sharing this article online.

From all of us at Cardiff Animation Festival, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and an even happier New Year!

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page