Christmas is right around the corner and with it, near limitless opportunities to watch a yuletide classic from the snuggly comfort of your sofa.

But if there’s one thing better than hygge-enhancing home viewing – an ‘Elf’ or a ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with whatever family members can be rounded up at short notice – it’s getting down to your local cinema and sharing the festive spirit with a screen full of like-minded revellers. Because a stranger is just a friend you haven’t watched ‘Die Hard’ with yet.

But where to start?

This December London’s cinemas have a huge range of options in store. There’s singalong screenings of ‘Frozen’, eat-along screenings of ‘The Holiday’, a very special ‘Love Actually’ evening and ‘Home Alone’ in concert – and, of course, ‘Wonka’ will be hitting the big screen too. Here’s the best of Christmas movies on offer.

1. Barbican’s Christmas at the Movies - Film Until Dec 16 2023

Like the Dominic Toretto of cinemas, family is big at the Barbican.

This chic City picture house’s weekly Family Film Club will be popping on a Santa hat and unveiling its festive film quiz at 11am on Saturday, December 9, to accompany a special screening of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. A perfect movie for kids and their parents alike, if Tim Burton’s stop-motion fairy tale doesn’t get everyone in the spirit, the Christmas jumpers surely will.

Across the way at the Barbican’s main hall, ‘Christmas at the Movies’ sees the London Concert Orchestra playing choice festive cuts from ‘Elf’, ‘Frozen’ and ‘The Grinch’ on Saturday, December 16.

2. Christmas at Genesis - Film Until Dec 24 2023

Mile End’s Genesis is one of London’s finest cinemas, with affordable tickets, swish screens and the kind of attention to detail that can transform a night at the pictures into something genuinely memorable.

Christmas is big here, with the cinema open every day apart from December 25 and ‘Die Hard’, ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’, ‘Home Alone’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful life’ standing by to lift any spirits in need of a boost. Look out for a Christmas Eve marathon featuring three stone-cold classics back-to-back. The Midnight Espresso cocktail at the bar will see you through.

3. Christmas at the Garden Cinema - Film Until Jan 1 2024

The West End’s cosiest cinema is decking its art deco halls with some serious holly this year. From Dec 3 to January 1, the programme is wall-to-wall festive classics, with a few deeper cuts that you don’t often get to see on a big screen. Check out, for example, Satoshi Kon’s yuletide anime ‘Tokyo Godfathers’ and Bergman’s ‘Fanny and Alexander’ (it’s festive, we promise).

There are quizzes and crowdpleasing fare, too, including ‘The Shop Around the Corner’, ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ and ‘Klaus’. To up the holly-jollyness even further there’s a wreath-making workshop for members. Look out for ‘pay what you can’ kids screenings too.

4. The Luna Winter Cinema

Things to do Film events Multiple venues Dec 11 2023-Dec 23 2023

Luna has chosen the resplendent settings of Kensington Palace and Battersea Town Hall for its winter cinema season.

Cosy up in the Pavillion on the Palace’s Orangery Lawn or in the art centre’s impressive domed ceilinged hall to watch Christmas classics like ‘Elf’, ‘Love Actually’ and ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ (and many more), as well as new releases like ‘Wonka’. The venue will be souped up with Luna Cinema's signature theming: giant Christmas trees, falling snow, and plenty of suitably festive food and drink options. Screening times vary. 

5. ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ Sing-a-long

Things to do Film events Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square Until Dec 24 2023

It’s not Christmas until Kermit puts on his top hat. Get into the seasonal spirit at the Prince Charles Cinema, which will be packed with London’s Noël-loving residents for this series of singalong screenings of 'Muppet’s Christmas Carol’.

Get ready for hearty renditions of ‘Scrooge’, ‘Marley and Marley’ and Bean Bunny’s ‘Good King Wenceslas’ which will get the popcorn flying. Get dressed up in your best Christmas jumper, meet the Father Christmas host and revel in the festive feels. God bless us, everyone. 

6. St Katharine Docks’ Floating Film Festival

Things to do Film events St Katharine Docks, Tower Bridge Until Dec 10 2023

Enjoy a shipshape night of cinema on a gently-bobbing pontoon at St Katharine Docks’ Floating Film Festival, which offers flicks and gorgeous vistas over the water.

There's nothing to rock the boat in the fest's film choices, which include much-loved family favourites such as ‘Home Alone’, ‘Arthur Christmas’ and ‘Miracle on 34th Street’. But the setting offers lots to shout about: there's a gigantic Christmas tree, twinkling fairy lights reflected in the dock's waters, and pretty boats galore.

The fest offers lots of creature comforts too, including cosy blankets, mulled wine and hot chocolate to warm your cockles.

7. Christmas at Curzon - Film Until Dec 31 2023

You expect class from Curzon and the cinema chain is surely delivering this year.

The programming team has thrown some seriously posh logs onto the fire this December, with Kubrick, Bergman and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Christmas movies – ’Eyes Wide Shut’, ‘Fanny and Alexander’ and ‘Phantom Thread’ – all on offer, and ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ bringing a different kind of festive cheer to things. Tarkovsky’s ‘The Sacrifice’ is also screening, although we don’t remember any Rudolph jumpers in that one.

8. Rivoli Ballroom Christmas Pop-Up Cinema

Cinemas Independent Rivoli Ballroom, Brockley Dec 21 2023 - Dec 23 2023

With its resplendent red and gold interiors, the iconic Brockley ballroom is already pretty festive, but get ready to dial that yuletide cheer up to 11 as it screens Christmas classics in the run-up to the big day.

‘Home Alone’ one and two, ‘Gremlins’, ‘Die Hard’, ‘Elf’ and ‘Love Actually’ are all on the bill and there'll also be cinema snacks to chomp down on, including hot dogs, pop corn and ice cream. 

9. Christmas at Regent Street Cinema - Film Until Dec 23 2023

It’s wall-to-wall festive cheer at the West End’s chic and historic cinema this year, with the newly restored 35mm projector unleashing a few Michaelmas masterpieces.

The celluloid goodness takes in ‘The Muppet Christmas’ Carol and ‘Die Hard’, as well as ‘Elf’, ‘Home Alone’, ‘Love Actually’, and a singalong screening of Ryan Reynolds Christmas caper ‘Spirited’. And if you know any of the songs to that, seriously, take the rest of the year off.

To raise spirits even higher, there’ll be Tony’s Chocolonely goodies on offer and tickets are only a tenner. 

10. Films In Concert at Eventim Apollo - Things to do Film events Until Dec 10 2023

Christmas movies and live orchestras go together like pigs and blankets.

This year, the Apollo in Hammersmith is welcoming in the woodwind and brass posses to live score four festive films: ‘The Holiday’, ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ and ‘Love Actually’. It’s not cheap - especially if you want to sit anywhere near the screen – but then, can you put a price on a Cameron Diaz romcom in full musical surround sound? 

11. Christmas at BFI Southbank - Things to do Film events BFI Southbank, South Bank Until Dec 31 2023

Like your favourite underground DJ, the BFI is offering up cinematic deep cuts, lesser-known gems and crowd-pleasing classics with a connoisseur's twist for its Christmas season.

The flagship venue of the British Film Institute has a stellar festive programme on the cards letting you watch underrated classics like ‘The Bishop’s Wife’, festive faves like ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, more leftfield options like ‘Carol’, ‘Tokyo Godfathers’ and ‘Tangerine’, as well as Imax screenings of ‘The Polar Express 3D’ and ‘Elf’. 

The 50 best Christmas movies

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but is it the most wonderful time at the movies?

Christmas films have something of a shaky reputation, conjuring up images of apple-cheeked brats, poorly animated reindeer and Bing Crosby in a dodgy cardigan. But the best Christmas movies have so much more to offer: in our list you’ll find psycho Santas, machine-gun terrorists and home-invading thieves – plus, of course, all the cockle-warming sentiment, feel-good frolics and classic Christmas movies for kids we demand for our festive viewing.