There is a particular window of time every year where the radio stations seemingly get taken over by Christmas music. Generally, it seems to be that you either love this or hate it completely. In this article, we will cover all of the details about when Christmas music officially begins receiving air time every year, that way you can be ready for it when it comes (and potentially avoid it if you’re not the biggest fan).
In the United States, most radio stations will begin playing Christmas music on December 1st. However, many radio stations will begin their holiday playlist on the day after Thanksgiving (the day after the 4th Thursday in November). In some instances, there are some radio stations that will even start playing Christmas music on the day after Halloween.
For the most part, UK residents will begin to hear Christmas music officially begin to receive air time around December 1st every year. However, there’s a good chance that you may hear these holiday songs a bit earlier than this. In a friendly sort of contest, UK radio stations will try to be the first radio station to play Christmas music in the region.
Whether you are in the US or the UK, you will likely be able to hear Christmas music on most Top Hits and Top-40 type radio stations. Most syndicated radio stations, including those owned by iHeartMedia, Cumulus, and the BBC, will tend to feature Christmas songs in their playlists.
It seems that Christmas music has made its way into almost every music genre played widely on the radio, and for that reason, you will undoubtedly hear these songs on stations that play country, oldies, easy-listening, religious, adult contemporary, and more.
With the advent of internet-based music platforms, music-lovers were gifted the ability to hear any song at any time. This means that those who love Christmas music have a wealth of different options available to choose from to be able to listen to it all year round.
One very popular method is to use a streaming service. Any of the following services will offer Christmas music. Some of them may even provide their own curated Christmas-themed playlists, while others will at least offer a vast library to curate your own playlists.
- Apple Music
- Amazon Music
- YouTube Music
Another popular method that many people use to listen to Christmas is with internet radio. The connectivity provided by the internet allows for radio stations to broadcast worldwide, with some radio stations only accessible by using the internet. Here are some internet radio stations that offer free Christmas music year-round on a 24/7 basis.
- Christmas Oldies
- North Pole Radio
- Christmas FM
- AccuRadio Christmas (large variety of different genres of Christmas music)
- iHeartChristmas Playlist (entire song list of the radio station’s rotation)
While free web-based internet stations can be wonderful for listening to Christmas music, they often do not offer the convenience of being able to listen on the go. In fact, internet radio subscription services are rapidly growing. Some of these services offer a large network of radio stations that operate similar to traditional AM/FM radio.
What Are Some Christmas Songs I Can Expect To Hear On The Radio? 5 Most Popular
No matter what radio station or playlist you choose to listen to, chances are likely that you will undoubtedly hear these songs if the station plays Christmas music. Many of these are timeless staples that have become synonymous with the holiday season.
Song Year: 1994
Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is one of the most famous Christmas songs that enjoys some of the most airtime of any holiday song. In fact, the song serves as a definitive example of how a modern song can become such a traditional standard in the Christmas music genre.
This is essentially a love song about someone wanting nothing else for Christmas than their heart’s desire. The song has been covered by a large number of artists including Shania Twain, Mumford & Sons, John Mayer, and Ariana Grande, with Mariah Carey re-recording herself the track in 2011.
Song Year: 1978
From the iconic Christmas Card album by The Statler Brothers, I Believe In Santa’s Cause is a 1970s classic that you will likely hear around Christmas. The rich and lush vocal harmonies accompanied by classic country musical stylings embody that feeling of opening presents on Christmas morning.
I Believe In Santa’s Cause (a play on the title I Believe In Santa Clause) is a song about choosing to believe in Santa Clause despite not having any evidence of ever actually seeing him or his reindeer. Despite the lack of evidence, the belief incites a spark inside the souls of those who do choose to believe.
Song Year: 1962
One of the most famous songs that also enjoys frequent air time is A Holly Jolly Christmas. This track, from the Johnny Marks album of the same name, is the epitome of the joyful holiday spirit embodied in the rock ‘n roll stylings of the space-age era.
The song is essentially one person’s wish to all of the listeners to enjoy the holiday season and all that it brings, and to appreciate the opportunity to meet with friends and family. With the upbeat tempo and musicality of this song, it’s definitely not hard to find the Christmas spirit.
Song Year: 1942
No Christmas season would be complete without the classic rendition of White Christmas by crooner Bing Crosby. This Irving Berlin song has played an influential role in the celebration of Christmas since it was first released, with Crosby’s recording being one of the best-selling versions.
Song Year: 1961
Nat King Cole’s version of the Mel Tormé and Robert Wells song is another holiday classic song that is traditionally played and enjoyed around Christmas time. This smooth track features quasi-jazz stylings that help to emulate the feeling of Christmas on a wintry day in the city.
Song Year: 1956
Elvis Presley has quite a few well-known and widely played Christmas songs, but his song Blue Christmas is by far the most famous. This iconic song features lyrics of a longing lover.
Ironically, the background singers featured on Blue Christmas were instructed by Presley to attempt to compromise the recording of the song. Despite his attempts at sabotage, the song ended up being one of his biggest hits.
Once in a while, music statistics from streaming platforms and radio stations are published to show the tendencies of age groups and their listening habits. In 2017, Spotify released metrics based on the final quarter of 2016 (effectively the holiday season).
In this publication, Spotify found that those aged below 30 typically listened to Christmas songs released by more modern artists. Those aged 30 and above typically listened to the timeless classics released from 1930-1970.
Studies have also shown that the countries of Sweden and Norway tend to listen to the most Christmas music per year, while countries such as Brazil tend to stream the least amount of Christmas music. Much of this may have to do with the fact that countries with a tropical climate do not experience the winter weather typically associated with Christmas, as many lyrics reference having snow on the ground.
Breaking Traditions In 2020 And Beyond?
With the world effectively hitting the pause button on normal life routines in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, radio stations began to play Christmas music quite a bit earlier than what was traditionally accepted in an effort to boost morale. Some US radio stations began playing Christmas music as early as March.
Whether or not this trend will continue remains to be seen. For that reason, the rest of this article will focus on when Christmas music has traditionally started in the past.
Christmas music will undoubtedly receive lengthy airtime well into the foreseeable future, as Christmas countdowns have become a tradition of the holiday season. Fortunately, those who absolutely love to listen to Christmas music do not have to be restricted to the last few months of the year to enjoy their favorite songs. Likewise, those who can’t stand Christmas music know when to avoid the radio as stations typically start to broadcast holiday music around the same time each year.