The Best Hallmark Christmas Movies of 2023 (So Far)

'Friends & Family Christmas,' 'A Biltmore Christmas,' and 'A Merry Scottish Christmas'
Allister Foster/Hallmark Media; David Scott Holloway/Hallmark Media; Steffan Hill/Hallmark Media

Every year, Hallmark rolls out at least a couple dozen new movies between Hallmark Channel‘s Countdown to Christmas and Hallmark Movies & MysteriesMiracles of Christmas, from October through December.

From ones that lean more towards the comedy in the rom-com genre to others that are more heartfelt, they all have something in common: There will be love, usually found where a character’s least expecting it, in the days leading up the holidays. More often than not (with the times that fit the not category a pleasant surprise), there’s a misunderstanding to separate the main couple for a good 15 minutes near the end of the movie.

The 2023 offerings, of course, fit in all those categories, with some new elements as well, from Where Are You, Christmas? with a Pleasantville feel to the time travel of A Biltmore Christmas to something to solve in Mystery on Mistletoe Lane and Catch Me If You Claus. Ms. Christmas Comes to Town skips something we’ve seen time and time again in the romance genre, while romances take a back seat to the siblings of A Merry Scottish Christmas and the friendships of The Santa SummitHeaven Down Here delivers quite the heartwarming twist, and Sealed with a List gives us a New Year’s film. Plus, Friends & Family Christmas tackles the fake dating trope perfectly.

Below, we’re keeping track of the best Hallmark movies of 2023. (Keep checking back, as we’ll be updating this as more air.)

Bethany Joy Lenz and Kristoffer Polaha in 'A Biltmore Christmas'
David Scott Holloway/Hallmark Media

A Biltmore Christmas

Time travel romances can be hard, but this one pulls it off — and then some! Bethany Joy Lenz’s Lucy is a screenwriter who is transported back to the set of the same movie — starring Kristoffer Polaha’s Jack — she’s updating via an hourglass. A nice touch is that she can go back and forth between past and present … until, of course, the hourglass breaks. Highlights include Jonathan Frakes as the employee who knows more than he’s saying and Rachel Boston and Wes Brown making cameos starring in Lucy’s movie at the end (and her comment that it would be better than Check Inn to Christmas, their 2019 Hallmark film). Plus, how can you not absolutely love the ending, with Jack traveling to the future to be with Lucy, giving up everything he’s known for her, and putting a cover story for his disappearance (his death) into place?

Scott Wolf and Lacey Chabert in 'A Merry Scottish Christmas'
Steffan Hill/Hallmark Media

A Merry Scottish Christmas

First of all, we absolutely loved the Party of Five reunion, with Lacey Chabert and Scott Wolf once again playing siblings, and what makes this film stand out is that it was their characters’ (estranged) relationship that was the most important. But even though both their romances were secondary — his marriage, with its problems he and his wife needed to work through, and the start of hers — both were engaging. Plus, there’s a cameo from Chabert’s Hallmark co-star Will Kemp and nods to their history (“Do I know you? Have w met before?” she asks, then says she knows the waltz and tango as they dance together).

Italia Ricci and Luke Macfarlane — 'Catch Me If You Claus'
Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media

Catch Me If You Claus

Hallmark finds a fun way to do the “Santa is real?!” story with this rom-com. Italia Ricci plays Avery, a news anchor looking to impress and score a big story, and Luke Macfarlane is Chris, the man she finds breaking into her house and claiming to be the son of Santa. The only problem? The police are after a thief who dresses like Santa. Fortunately, it doesn’t take too long for Avery to accept Chris is telling the truth and for the movie to become a team-up of the two investigating and solving the Santa crooks mystery. Particularly notable, fun parts: She ties him up using Christmas lights (pictured above), and their first kiss comes as they’re hiding (a rom-com trope). And it’s another example of a film where neither is moving or giving up a dream for the other but they’re still going to have a go at a relationship.

Sarah Ramos and William Moseley in 'Christmas in Notting Hill'
Steffan Hill/Hallmark Media

Christmas in Notting Hill 

Listen, a Christmas twist on Notting Hill and (inevitable) references to Ted Lasso? You had us at Christmas! Georgia (Sarah Ramos) is a visiting American who has no idea that the charming man, Graham (William Moseley) she’s met is a famous English footballer (sidelined with an injury). Though she initially struggles with the lie — he liked that she didn’t know who he was, even trying to come up with excuses for people approaching him on the street — it doesn’t take too long for the truth to come out or for the two to continue connecting; her sister (Joelle Rae) is dating his half-brother (Peter Rothwell), so they’re thrown together a lot. In fact, that relationship is equally fun to watch unfold, especially as Georgia and Graham scheme to help his brother get her sister for Secret Santa to execute his planned proposal. Plus, we loved his family!

Rachel Skarsten and Andrew Walker in 'Christmas Island'
Vortex Media

Christmas Island

This might be a new one for Hallmark: a meet-cute occurring while one is the pilot (Rachel Skarsten‘s Kate) and the other the air traffic control officer (Andrew Walker‘s Oliver) directing her for an unexpected landing. But hey, it works! And it’s only fitting that there’s a twist on a character chasing after the other at an airport, given the story. But it’s not just their love story that we enjoy. We also like following the family Kate was flying — the parents learning to take time to spend with their kids, and their kids being exposed to parts of Christmas Island. Plus, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Oliver dressed as Belsnickel, working for Santa.

Catherine Bell, Eva Tavares, Simon Farrell, James Denton, Vincent Rodriguez, Jonathan Bennett, Milana Wan, Erin Cahill, John Brotherton — 'Christmas on Cherry Lane'
Allister Foster/Hallmark Media; Syd Wong/Hallmark Media; Allister Foster/Hallmark Media

Christmas on Cherry Lane

This film taking place across three decades in the same house on Christmas Eve — a young couple (Erin Cahill and John Brotherton) weeks away from their baby being born and her family surprising them with a visit; two grown children dealing with their mother (Catherine Bell) planning to move with her fiancé (James Denton); and a couple (Jonathan Bennett and Vincent Rodriguez III) trying to put together a Christmas feast and get their house ready (amidst renovations) when they’re surprised with the happy news they’ll be fostering a young girl — allows for the fun of looking for connections. And there are quite a few, including the neighbor Daisy (Brandi Alexander), the car, and the gas station-turned-restaurant. Plus, there’s a nice (though predictable) surprise when it comes to who looked after Zian (Rodriguez) for a very short time when he was a kid.

Humberly González and Ali Liebert in 'Friends and Family Christmas'
Allister Foster/Hallmark Media

Friends & Family Christmas

We’ll admit it: We love the fake dating trope, and Hallmark’s this year is no exception! Dani (Humberly González) and Amelia (Ali Liebert) pretend to date after their parents set them up, and it doesn’t take long for a sweetness to come through as both catch feelings. And sure, there’s the cliché misunderstanding and separation (as well as the reveal that one saw the other years before they met), but Dani’s grand gesture in the park — and everyone, including Amelia’s father, getting involved — and romantic speeches more than make up for that.

Charlotte Kay Witt, Carrie Morgan, Peter Jacobson, Melissa Peterman, Lacey Chabert, Wes Brown, Laura Wardle, and Ellen Travolta — 'Haul out the Holly: Lit Up'
Natalie Cass/Hallmark Media

Haul out the Holly: Lit Up

What makes this sequel as fun as it is is that it brings everyone back on Evergreen Lane and ups the Christmas competition with a new family moving in. Emily (Lacey Chabert) and Jared’s (Wes Brown) relationship is going strong — they end the movie with a sweet proposal! It’s just as entertaining to again see how seriously they all take the holidays, to another level even, with Emily’s parents getting code names as they’re called in for reinforcements when Emily ends up taking on the new family’s matriarch in Christmas Games. (That’s certainly one way to fit in a whole lot of Christmas in a montage, as everyone helps Emily prepare for trivia and practice events.)

Krystal Joy Brown in 'Heaven Down Here'
Kailey Schwerman/Hallmark Media

Heaven Down Here

This movie takes a simple concept — four strangers stranded in a location open up to one another — and turns it into a heartwarming story. And Imani (Krystal Joy Brown) had no idea how much her life was about to change when she got stuck with her boss Dan (Richard Harmon), local pastor Felix (Juan Riedinger), and hospice nurse Clara (Tina Lifford). What followed was a beautiful twist, in which Imani learned that Clara’s patient (Phylicia Rashad) was her grandmother. It proves that Hallmark doesn’t need to focus on a romance to deliver a perfect holiday movie.

Niall Matter and Emily Tennant in 'Holiday Hotline'
Steven Ackerman/Hallmark Media

Holiday Hotline

It’s a fresh idea — Emily Tennant plays a chef who visits Chicago from London and takes a job at a hotline to help out for the holidays, and Niall Matter is the single father struggling with cooking — and it features Thanksgiving! (We miss Thanksgiving films; they’re just too rare.) Abby adopts an American accent and nickname for the hotline, while Jack goes by John, and the two also bump into each other, and so it’s easy to imagine what happens next: They start falling for each other in person and over the phone, with both equally entertaining. She figures out what’s going on first, and in struggling to tell him, is caught in the lie, but we can understand both sides as well as their reactions.

Princess Davis, Brittany Willacy, Sharon Crandall, Ryan Mah, Trevor Lerner, Kiefer O'Reilly, Sara Canning, Enid-Raye Adams, and Warren Christie in 'Holiday Road'
Allister Foster/Hallmark Media

Holiday Road

This is much more an ensemble movie than these usually are, even with Sara Canning and Warren Christie playing the obvious main couple, two of a group of nine who hit the road together to make it home for Christmas after their flight is canceled. You get to know each character’s story — all equally compelling, from the mother and son going to meet the latter’s birth mom to the estranged father and son about to unknowingly reunite to the romance (though her medical condition is easy to see coming), all captured via a social media influencer posting online (her attempt to get help from her followers leads to quite the encounter) — and see everyone bond. The standout (and most touching one) is easily Dusty (Trevor Lerner), whose destination is heartbreaking, and Ember (Brittany Willacy), who just wants to be with her daughter again.

Erica Durance, Barbara Niven, and Brennan Elliott in 'Ms. Christmas Comes to Town'
Allister Foster/Hallmark Media

Ms. Christmas Comes to Town

There’s so much to enjoy about this movie, from the fun and sweet meet-cute (she sits down with the wrong man for a blind date) to how it makes sure each relationship — yes, the main romance between Amanda (Erica Durance) and Travis (Brennan Elliott), but also Amanda and Gale’s (Barbara Niven) and Gale and ex-fiancé James (Mark Brandon) — shines to the story itself. After Gale receives a terminal diagnosis, the Holiday Shopping Channel host sets out on a farewell tour to introduce Amanda as her replacement, with Travis her nurse. But because Gale doesn’t want Amanda to know the truth about her health, they lie about who he is — and Amanda has a very mature reaction to learning the truth: Rather than get angry, she understands, and Amanda and Travis don’t split up (rare!).

Victor Webster and Erica Cerra in 'Mystery on Mistletoe Lane'
Syd Wong/Hallmark Media

Mystery on Mistletoe Lane

Hallmark does something it doesn’t do that often with its Christmas movies: add a mystery element with this film. It’s Heidi’s (Erica Cerra) kids who go on the scavenger hunt around the house when she takes over as the director of the local historical society, and soon enough, they discover a connection to her love interest David (Victor Webster): His father grew up in that house, and his sister died when they were kids. That part of the film is bittersweet, but the rest of it, the romance between Heidi and David is pure warmth as they get to know each other after their initial, awkward meeting. It’s another rarity without a misunderstanding to split them up, and instead, it’s just a cozy story to settle in and enjoy.

Jessy Schram and Chandler Massey in 'Mystic Christmas'
Robert Clark/Hallmark Media

Mystic Christmas

While Juniper (Jessy Schram) and Sawyer’s (Chandler Massey) history does lead to some ridiculousness — “check your spam” is uttered before he realizes he never sent an email after — the film also acknowledges the tropes inherent in these stories. “Eventually some miscommunication will come up and you’ll both retreat back into your shells like the cowardly little mollusks you are,” Candace (Patti Murrin), Sawyer’s sister and Juniper’s best friend, remarks at one point. Moments like that are fun. But what this movie has that many don’t is that neither gives up their new dream: She stays in Mystic for a job, while he travels like he never did and wanted to, all while maintaining their relationship (he returns a year later, and she’s been to visit him). Plus, we liked watching Nick (Nick Jordan) and Eric’s (Ralph Adriel Johnson) courtship — they’re engaged at the end! — as well.

Vic Michaelis and Bryan Greenberg in 'Round and Round'
Craig Minielly/Hallmark Media

Round and Round

Hallmark celebrates Hanukkah with a movie that puts an assistant literary editor (Vic Michaelis) in a time loop on the eighth night after her grandmother gives her an antique dreidel. And that experience leads her to break up with her boyfriend who didn’t want to meet her family, learn to embrace the step forward she needs to take in her career, gain quite the knowledge of time loops in pop culture, and meet her soulmate (Bryan Greenberg). The separation works (Zach rightly points out that Rachel went on an epic adventure with him that he can’t remember while he feels like he’s on day 1), as does the fix (putting the dreidel in his dice protector box gives him the memories of the loops). We also absolutely love that it’s essentially a rite of passage in the family: her father (Rick Hoffman) tells her that’s how he and his mother fell in love — a romance she’s looked up to — as well as her sister (Marnie Mahannah).

Stephanie Sy, Hunter King, and Amy Groening in 'The Santa Summit'
Steven Ackerman/Hallmark Media

The Santa Summit

Everyone’s in Santa suits for the holiday event that takes them around the city, and it also means quite the journeys — as individuals and together — for friends Jordin (Hunter King), Ava (Amy Groening), and Stella (Stephanie Sy). It’s all fun, from Jordin and Liam (Benjamin Hollingsworth) meeting and bonding only to grab the wrong person amidst a group of Santas soon after and trying to find each other again, to Ava and Ben (Adam Hurtig) confessing their love using Lord of the Rings quotes to Freddie (Rodrigo Beilfuss) helping Stella rediscover her love for singing by bringing her on stage with his band, the North Pole Rejects. Of course, we love that Liam talks to Jordin’s friends along the way and the two finally reconnect after he builds her dream house out of gingerbread, plus we have to mention Niall Matter appearing as a DJ.

Evan Roderick and Katie Findlay in 'Sealed with a List'
Johann Wall/Hallmark Media

Sealed with a List

Listen, we love all the Christmas movies, we really do, but rarer even than a holiday one about Hanukkah is one about New Year’s, so if it exists, chances are it’ll end up on a list like this — especially if it’s one that’s as good as this one. Wyatt (Evan Roderick) gets the job Carley (Katie Findlay) thought she would — he’s the boss’ son — and she takes the opportunity to quit. The two then help each other change things in their lives, and we’ll just say that Findlay put it best when we spoke with her: “For most of this movie, they’re friends. They are genuinely friends. They’re not artificially held apart until all of a sudden, oh my God, they’re in love. … It’s really clear for a lot of the movie that these people have really decided to just go all in for each other and try to figure some weird stuff out together.”

Mark Ghanimé and Kimberley Sustad in 'To All a Good Night'
Bettina Strauss/Hallmark Media

To All a Good Night

What’s fun about this one is that while photographer Ceci (Kimberley Sustad) thinks she’s hiding the fact that she saved Army veteran Sam (Mark Ghanimé) from him, he figures it out pretty quickly and the two clear up a misunderstanding about what brings him to the town (not the land project she fears). His connection to her father is a heartfelt revelation, especially since the latter told him to marry her (and he proposed when she found him after her accident). Also a standout from this movie is the change we see in Ceci’s relationship with her stepmother (Karen Kruper) as she realizes she is a good person and how her dad helped Vivian.

Michael Rady and Lyndsy Fonseca in 'Where Are You, Christmas?'
Robert Clark/Hallmark Media

Where Are You, Christmas?

Lyndsy Fonseca stars as Addy, who rediscovers her Christmas spirit when a wish makes her entire hometown forget the holiday exists. The result? A twist on Pleasantville. Everyone and everything is in black and white, and color returns when a person remembers the joy of Christmas and heals what’s hurting inside them. First up is Addy’s love interest, Hunter (Michael Rady), and particularly difficult to convince is her father (Jim O’Heir), making for some sweet moments. It’s not until the ending kiss, for the right reasons, that Addy turns back to color. Sign us up for anything that’s just a bit different than the usual fare.