The 30 best Christmas films to watch on Netflix UK in 2021, from Love Actually to The Princess Switch
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without fixing your eyes on the TV, for hours on end, watching festive films. It doesn’t even matter that many of them are completely terrible.
From old-time classics such as Love Actually to new movies, starring the likes of Kristen Davis and Vanessa Hudgens, there’s something for everyone to get ready for the holiday season. It’s also the perfect family activity as you relax over the winter break.
Whether you’re looking for a truly festive film or, perhaps, a feel-good flick that’s just set around Christmas, there’s quite the selection to choose from.
Luckily, Netflix is serving up a host of holiday movies this year, ready for you to stream. All that’s left is to plan your festive film night – and we’ve got a seasonal guide to help you.
New Christmas films on Netflix
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star (2021)
We know Queen Margaret, Princess Stacy and Lady Fiona from the previous two Princess Switch movies and we meet our three doppelgängers again in the third instalment of this lovable Christmas movie.
When a priceless Christmas artefact is stolen by thieves, royal look-alikes Queen Margaret and Princess Stacy (both played by Vanessa Hudgens) have no choice but to turn to the mischievous Lady Fiona (also Hudgens) for help.
Love Hard (2021)
Nina Dobrev steps away from her well known role of Elena Gilbert in The Vampire Diaries in this dating disaster rom-com festive film. When Natalie Bauer (played by Dobrev) meets a guy on a dating app, she has no idea that she’s about to be catfished when she goes to surprise him at his family home ahead of Christmas.
Father Christmas Is Back (2021)
Another new festive film is British comedy Father Christmas Is Back – with a star-studded cast, featuring Elizabeth Hurley, John Cleese and Kelsey Grammer. Join in on this family reunion during the Christmas holidays as the attempt to have a perfect Christmas results in a family secret being revealed.
Best Christmas movies on Netflix
In Netflix’s first original animated feature, a selfish (and exceedingly irritating) postman called Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) and a grumpy old toymaker (J.K. Simmons) become friends and attempt to cheer up the miserable, frosty town of Smeerensburg. Sergio Pablos’s animations are charming, even if the story subplots can get a little complicated.
Holiday in the Wild (2019)
This feel-good festive rom-com stars Sex and the City’s Kristen Davis as a single woman on safari in Zambia, trying to get over her husband who unceremoniously dumped her two days before their second honeymoon. Luckily, her safari pilot turns out to be quite the catch… Expect sunny Christmas cheer and plenty of baby animals.
The Holiday (2006)
One of the few decent Rom Coms on Netflix, here two women with broken hearts, Surrey journalist Iris (Kate Winslet), and Los-Angeles movie-trailer maker Amanda (Cameron Diaz), house swap for Christmas for some much-needed R&R. Both women end up attached to the other’s emotional baggage, leading to two, new and unexpected love stories. A lovely, fluffy film that warms the heart without making it cringe.
Love Actually (2003)
Netflix’s big “get” for the festive season is Richard Curtis’s endearingly cloying Christmas classic Love Actually, which really ought to have become an end-of-year tradition by now for any respectable Brit. Featuring a host of A-listers (and Martine McCutcheon), it also has the most 2003 soundtrack of all time, with Hugh Grant et al serenaded throughout by the likes of Sugababes, Girls Aloud, S Club Juniors and Dido.
El Camino Christmas (2017)
A potty-mouthed Netflix original with an almost impressively C-list cast of Tim Allen, Dax Shepard and Jessica Alba, this festive comedy stars Luke Grimes as a drifter who, following a short-lived reunion with his absent father, winds up taking a Nevada liquor store hostage on Christmas Eve. Much learning and growing and bonding looks set to ensue.
Christmas Inheritance (2017)
Like a reverse Sweet Home Alabama, Eliza Taylor plays a wealthy New York debutante who ventures to small-town Nowheresville to learn the value of all-American graft and hard work, pretends to be a commoner, falls in love and realises there’s more to life than endless Manhattan parties and boozing. A Netflix original, Christmas Inheritance looks a lot like the sort of thing a Zellweger or a Heigl would have made when romantic comedies still played in cinemas, and appears to ride on the same sense of enjoyably lightweight nostalgia.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
Despite slightly vanishing upon its release in 2011 (it didn’t even get a Best Animated Film Oscar nod), Arthur Christmas has emerged as something of a modern classic, with that trademark Aardman wit and warmth, and a lovely voiceover performance from James McAvoy as Santa’s clumsy son Arthur, who decides to rescue a little girl’s Christmas when Father Christmas forgets to deliver her gift. Bill Nighy, Michael Palin and Hugh Laurie are among the rest of the cast.
A Christmas Prince (2017)
A so-bad-it’s-amazing Christmas movie that has already garnered a waveof pressfor its various shortcomings, A Christmas Prince stars iZombie’s Rose McIver as a terrible New York journalist sent to a press conference in the fictional European country of Aldovia to report on a “playboy prince”. While there she goes undercover as a tutor for the prince’s disabled sister, falls in love with the prince and unearths a royal scandal. It is, by all accounts, the greatest-slash-worst thing to exist, playing like The Prince & Me, Never Been Kissed and the Princess Diaries sequel all tossed in a blender while a cheaper version of Natasha Bedingfield plays on the soundtrack.
Last Holiday (2006)
When you’re going to remake an old British terminal illness comedy starring Alec Guinness, why not cast Queen Latifah? This cheery festive film casts Latifah as a lonely department store employee who is told she has just weeks to live, inspiring her to journey on a luxury European holiday for one last blow-out, where she romances LL Cool J and eats fancy meals prepared by Gerard Depardieu.
A Very Murray Christmas (2015)
For a less mean Bill Murray, why not sample his experimental variety show special from 2015, directed by none other than Sofia Coppola and featuring cameos from George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock and a host of other stars. Full of songs and vaguely surreal skits, it’s a slight non-event, but worth watching for curiosity’s sake.
Deck the Halls (2006)
An unofficial US remake of the ITV comedy Christmas Lights starring Robson Green and Mark Benton, Deck the Halls casts Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito as next door rivals whose competitive holiday joy turns into an all-out war while wives Kristin Davis and Kristin Chenoweth wag their fingers on the sidelines. It’s unmistakably awful, but will likely make decent background noise to a game of Jenga.
A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish (2019)
Kat Decker is an aspiring singer but upon the death of her father, is left in the care of her evil stepmother. With her attempts to pursue her dreams constantly thwarted by her stepmother and two wicked stepsisters, she takes a job at “Santa Land” – where she catches the eye of the mysterious new Father Christmas.
A Christmas Prince: the Royal Wedding (2018)
Last year’s Netflix Original A Christmas Prince proved so oddly addictive it bagged itself a sequel, suspiciously well-timed with our own royal events. Amber and Prince Richard prepare to tie the knot, causing Amber anxiety she’s not fit to be royal. It’s not any better than the first, but remains as inexplicably watchable.
The Princess Switch (2018)
Another film treading the well-worn and predictably entertaining conceit of a life switch. Chicago baker (Vanessa Hudgens) competes in a Christmas baking competition in Belgravia, where she meets the prince’s fiancée, who (totally unbelievably) looks exactly like her. They agree to swap lives for two days so as to, quite literally, see how the other half lives. Suspend your disbelief for two hours, and you might just get sucked in.
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019)
The third film in the Christmas Prince franchise looks like it will be the most far-fetched of all, but silliness is all part of the festive spirit. Queen Amber of Aldovia (Rose McIver) is expecting just in time for Christmas, and, along with her husband King Richard (Ben Lamb), must host King Tai (Kevin Shen) and Queen Ming (Momo Yeung) of Penglia to renew a 600-year-old sacred truce. Festivities turn dark when the sacred treaty paper goes missing, a snowstorm blows in, and the young couple realise an ancient curse is soon to descend upon the family…
Katarina, known as Kate, is an aspiring singer who works as a Christmas elf in Central London. Fed up and newly homeless, Kate meets a man named Tom Webster, who intrigues her due to his appreciation for life. Offering her a new perspective on her own life, the two start to spend more time together in the lead-up to Christmas.
Anything starring Martin Freeman tends to be magically compelling, and this feel-good seasonal treat – an improvised comedy in which primary school teacher Paul (Freeman) tries to organise a school nativity – is no different.
Sloane is sick of her family asking about her love life, and Jackson wants no-pressure dating options for the holidays. So, the pair agree to be one another’s “holidates” – no sex, no romance. It’s a familiar premise, but Emma Roberts and Aussie actor Luke Bracey are likable leads, while Kristin Chenoweth is a scene-stealing randy aunt.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
This Victorian-set musical fantasy sees Forest Whitaker play a toy inventor who lost everything when his dastardly apprentice stole his blueprints. Granddaughter Journey is determined to restore his legacy. Featuring plenty of Broadway-style razzle-dazzle, including upbeat dance routines by Kylie’s choreographer Ashley Wallen. Ricky Martin and Hugh Bonneville are also among the cast.
The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two (2020)
The sequel to The Christmas Chronicles (also on Netflix) sees Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn reprising their roles as Santa and Mrs Claus – the latter getting a much more prominent role this time around. They’re visited at the North Pole by an unhappy teenager, and also have to contend with a troublemaker trying to sabotage the festive season.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square (2020)
Have a jolly, Dolly – admittedly very campy – Christmas with this musical fable. Christine Baranski is the wealthy landowner threatening to evict the townspeople to make way for a shopping mall. Can Parton’s rhinestone-covered angel persuade her otherwise? Parton also provides the songs, and director/choreographer Debbie Allen the buoyant dance routines.
The Knight Before Christmas (2019)
If you like your romcoms with a side order of time-travelling (and somehow Kate & Leopold passed you by), this Vanessa Hudgens vehicle is for you. She plays Brooke, a disillusioned woman who has given up on the concept of happy ever after. Enter 14th-century knight Cole, sent to the future to fulfil his destiny.
Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger (2012)
Another chapter in the genial British franchise, this time starring David Tennant as twin brothers – an anxious primary school teacher, and his famous composer and conductor brother – who clash at a national Christmas song competition. Marc Wootton is back as the irrepressible Mr Poppy.
Let It Snow (2019)
Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka is among the ensemble cast of this YA novel adaptation. Set on Christmas Eve, in a small, snowy town, several teenagers fall in and out of love. A witty script by British comedian Laura Solon, 30 Rock and Pitch Perfect’s Kay Cannon, and Finding Dory screenwriter Victoria Strouse makes this a surprising charmer.
Operation Christmas Drop (2020)
Based on the real-life US Air Force humanitarian mission of the same name, this genial film sees a congressional aid tasked with investigating a USAF base in order to find a reason to close it down. But a handsome captain shows her how they airlift goods to the citizens of Guam for Christmas – and, naturally, romance blossoms.
The Princess Switch: Switched Again (2020)
Yes, there’s more! Vanessa Hudgens returns – this time playing not one, not two, but three coincidentally identical women. As Margaret, Duchess of Montenaro prepares for her coronation, she switches places once again with Stacy in order to repair her love life. But the scheming Lady Fiona spies an opportunity to steal the throne…
A New York Christmas Wedding (2020)
Unhappily ambushed with Christmas eve nuptials by her future in-laws, Jennifer is given a chance to choose a different path by her guardian angel. The twist: in her alternate life, she’s explored her romantic feelings for her childhood female friend. Sex and the City’s Chris Noth pops up as a Catholic priest.