The Late Late Toy Show kicked-off Christmas with a massive virtual hug last Friday and today RTÉ announces its entertainment for the festive season across television, radio, and online.
There are brand new music shows, award-winning animation, comedy, festive soap drama, movie premieres, cracking live sport, compelling documentaries and all sorts of family entertainment to wrap up 2020 and ring in the New Year.
This Christmas, we all need fun and escapism like never before - here are our top picks.
There's nothing like movies to take your mind off the outside world for a couple of hours and there will be plenty to choose from on RTÉ including the Irish TV premiere of Angela’s Christmas Wish airing on Christmas Day.
This heartwarming animated tale from Ireland’s Brown Bag Films is the sequel to the Emmy nominated special, Angela’s Christmas, and tells the story of a determined little girl who sets out to reunite her family in time for the Big Day.
Based on characters by author Frank McCourt, it features the vocal talent of Ruth Negga, Jared Harris and Catriona Balfe.
Other Irish movie premieres include Dublin Old School, starring Emmet Kirwan; Zoo, about a young boy and his friends who rescue a baby elephant from Belfast Zoo during WWII; and animation special, The Overcoat, by Dublin-based animation house, Giant, with the lead character voiced by Cillian Murphy.
Other big hit movies include Peter Rabbit, Coco, A Star is Born, The Greatest Showman, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.
Jennifer Zamparelli and Nicky Byrne get their sparkle back on to remember more footloose and fancy-free times as they look back over some magical moments in a one-hour Dancing with the Stars special.
The whole family will also love The Den's Christmas Special as the rebooted series comes to a close. Join the madness and mayhem with Ray, Zig and Zag and Dustin for a final hooley, some special guests and maybe even a tear or two.
On 31 December the whole family can join in a special New Year's Eve Countdown with music, comedy and chat live from The Gaiety Theatre in the heart of Dublin.
Top Notch Comedy
There’s The 2 Johnnies, the likely lads from Cahir in Tipperary who are primed to set Christmas alight.
Fans can look forward to two spanking new episodes of Mrs Brown’s Boys on RTÉ One on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, in which we see how Mrs Brown and all the crew in Finglas are coping with lockdown life.
We all know 2020 was a year like no other so who better than Oliver Callan to take a romp through a year we’ll all be glad to see the back of, in Callan Kicks the Year.
On the RTÉ Player, Reeling in the Fears, written by Joanne McNally and presented by Doireann Garrihy is a satirical and chaotic look back at 2020.
In Fungie’s Kingdom, Baz Ashmawy makes the trip to Dingle in the aftermath of the Dingle Dolphin’s disappearance to explore the magic and the mystery of the cheeky, solitary, wild dolphin who made Dingle Bay his home for 37 years.
In The Real Field, John B Keane’s son, the broadcaster and writer Billy Keane, goes in search of the truth behind the murder that inspired his father’s most famous work.
Music at Christmas
Nicky Byrne presents Soundtrack To My Life featuring the RTÉ Concert Orchestra playing a selection of greatest hits and familiar floor-fillers with Kodaline and special guests including Jack L and Loah.
The Queen of Nashville, Dolly Parton, joins Ryan Tubridy for a star-studded Late Late Show Country Christmas Special on 11 December and our own Irish country stars will also be on hand with some of their own favourite Christmas hits.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Riverdance with a special anniversary show, and in Clannad: A Celtic Dream, Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh travels to Donegal to meet the band and reflect on a remarkable fifty-year journey.
Ruth Smith and Mary Kennedy present Christmas at Home, with a rich array of musical talent, including Celine Byrne, Úna Healy, Ray Lynam, Mick Flannery, teenage YouTube sensation Allie Sherlock, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Cor na nÓg.
Don’t miss The Busk - A Decade of Christmas on Grafton Street on 18 December, an unforgettable night celebrating the best of Irish music, songs and stories.
The Year 2020
RTÉ, together with the Creative Ireland Programme, is calling on Ireland to #ShineALlight on 20 December to create a national moment of solidarity on the eve of the 2020 winter solstice.
RTÉ will present an event that will include a live programme on RTÉ One, a radio special on RTE Radio 1, and six spectacular projection installations in locations around the country in the days leading up to Shine Your Light - Solstice.
2020: A Year in Review looks back at a strange year in which the world watched as America voted in a new President, the UK prepared to leave the EU forever and Ireland’s rotating Taoisigh battled to save lives.
And on News2Day, Aisling Moloney and Mícheál Ó Scannáil look back at a year of huge upheaval for everyone, including children.
And especially for those younger viewers, Growing Up at the End of the World is a fascinating documentary that follows three teen climate change activists.
This Christmas will see the first-ever winter GAA Championships climax with All Ireland Finals in Football, Hurling and Camogie all showing live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player on The Saturday Game Live and The Sunday Game Live.
Also featured will be live coverage of the men's and women's FAI Cup Finals, Champions League Live and the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, beginning on St. Stephen's Day.
On Saturday 12 December, the All Ireland Camogie Final and the Women's FAI Cup Final will take centre stage on a super Saturday of women's sport across RTÉ.
For drama off the field, Fair City continues to capture Carrigstown life through a lens, with residents, like all of us, rising to the challenge of a different kind of Christmas this year. And we catch all the action from Albert Square in an Eastenders Christmas Special on RTÉ One on Christmas Day.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, RTÉ TV and Radio offer a rich array of seasonal religious content, with Carols, Masses, Services, Christmas Messages and even a special Cork Nativity.
Kids and Christmas
Especially for younger viewers, this Christmas there are 10 brand new two-minute animations, including Christmas Owl, a Christmas version of Critters TV using Late Late Toy Show footage, and Da Humbug, an animated story about a grumpy old man finding the true meaning of Christmas.
The Today Show Christmas Food Special is back with Neven Maguire, Rachel Allen and Kevin Dundon dishing up a Christmas feast for some lucky celebrity diners across three evenings at 6.30pm on RTÉ One during Christmas week.
Neven’s Christmas Menu will cover everything you need to know to produce the perfect Christmas day spread, and this year Donal’s Family Food at Christmas will be all about spending time with the family, keeping up traditions and creating great family meals.
Rory O’Connell is also back with another two-part Christmas special, How to Cook Well, over two nights during Christmas week and Catherine Fulvio returns with a Christmas cookery special, Catherine Celebrates, for those who want to try something just a little bit different this year!
The entertainment continues on the airwaves across RTÉ Radio 1, 2FM, Lyric and RnaG this Christmas. On 22 December, Ray D’Arcy show will be paying homage to all the wonderful Charity Calendars that have been sent in from all over the country.
Although different from previous years, Liveline won’t let Covid-19 put a stop to their Christmas Eve special in 2020. This year, Joe Duffy and friends will entertain listeners in their homes instead of on Dublin's Grafton Street, with guests including Kodaline and many more sharing some Christmas wishes.
Derek Mooney will have a direct line to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, ensuring he’s on his way to all the homes across the country, while Panti Bliss takes to the fireside offering solace in a year that has changed us all.
Christmas Miscellany brings listeners a festive mix of new writing and complimentary music, a much-loved staple of Christmas morning on RTÉ Radio 1 for over fifty years. The writers this Christmas morning include Dónal Ryan, Paul Howard and Christine Dwyer Hickey.
At 6pm on 2FM The National Chart Show with Bláthnaid Treacy will announce this year's Christmas No.1 as well as replaying all the Number 1's from the year 2020.
St. Stephens’ Day gives us all time to reflect as Joe Duffy presents Legacies. And Callan’s Kicks looks back on the unforgettable year that includes leakers, experts and covidiots, Shinner winners and Golfgater haters.