It's time to join the ghosts of Christmases past as we celebrate a century of festive film.
Our selection of comic, musical and animated treats should get you in the spirit, and for balance there's newsreels both cheerful and poignant, while some evocative home movies shine a light on the family revels of yesteryear. Meanwhile, some early promotional films offer a reminder that Christmas was serious business long before advertisers deployed CGI penguins or WWI epics to tug on viewers' heart strings. All the yuletide traditions are here: trees, turkeys and toys (including some distant ancestors of the dreaded Furby). You'll also find some seasonal curios, not least a sci-fi re-imagining of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol - alongside a more conventional version from 1914. These crackers are full of surprises!
Toys Will Be Toys
Animation & Artists Moving Image19885 mins Location: South Shields
Barbie dolls in pink battle khaki killing machines in a Christmas animation that cocks a snook at the “Disney Doctrine”.
A Bronte Christmas
Documentary198014 mins Location: Haworth
Richard Whiteley joins children on the Worth Valley Railway Santa’s Special, while the Haworth Town Band sing On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at.
Christmas in Belfast
Government sponsored film19772 mins Location: Belfast
Christmas in Belfast at the height of 'The Troubles'. Not the most wonderful time of year.
Wartime Cinema Christmas Greeting
A thoughtful Christmas message in hope of peace from early in WWII - the absence of loved ones hit hardest at holiday times.
Amateur film19524 minsSilent Location: Norwich
Christmas Day, Norwich 1952 and following the traditional lunch for 4 generations of the Youngs family and offspring - the party is out in the back garden for some fun and fresh air.
Dodo in Christmas Adventure
Animation & Artists Moving Image19655 mins
Meet the animated sci-fi fixer from a strange atomic race who knows the value of Christmas.
Christmas Around the World
Animation & Artists Moving Image19785 mins Location: South Shields
Chomping alligators, a boomerang throwing kangaroo, a turkey in Turkey, and an angry lion, all mollified by a world touring, bumbling Santa.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Animation & Artists Moving Image19764 mins Location: South Shields
A classic Christmas carol brought joyously to life in this engaging and colourful Sheila Graber animation, with help from her school class.
Christmas Is Coming
Animation & Artists Moving Image19511 minsSilent
Santa's on strike! This charming animation for the GPO advises early posting to keep Father Christmas onside.
'If Winter Comes' - It Has!
Non-Fiction19231 minsSilent Location: Buxton
Dashing through the snow; on a six-horse open plough... The streets are ready for sledging in 1920s Buxton.
'Joys in Toys for Girls and Boys'
Treat your kiddies to the latest mechanical wonders, promoted in this festive newsreel item
Cookery show197327 mins
Dorothy Sleightholme, Yorkshire's answer to Fanny Cradock, makes a meal of turkey leftovers in this seasonal offering from the Farmhouse Kitchen.
A glittering assortment of screen stars brings some extra Yuletide sparkle to a charming festive greeting to 1930s cinemagoers.
Horses' New Year's Dinners
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Cricklewood
Retired nags enjoy a well-earned New Year's feed at the Cricklewood Home of Rest for Horses.
Surrey Union Boxing Day Hunt
Amateur film19775 minsSilent Location: Guildford
The streets of Guildford are filled with riders and hounds in this traditional and colourful Boxing Day spectacle.
Our Christmas 1961
Amateur film19614 minsSilent Location: Patcham
It’s Christmas morning at the Linehan household. Santa's been, the kids are happy and Dad's playing his guitar under the tree.
Vietnamese Children Refugees
Non-Fiction19785 mins Location: Birmingham
6,000 miles from home, after a perilous voyage to escape terror and oppression, five child refugees from Vietnam experience the magic of a British Christmas.
Old Drury Custom Dating from 1796
Non-Fiction19282 minsSilent Location: Covent Garden
Theatrical shenanigans in London's West End as thespians celebrate a Twelfth Night tradition.
Family Christmas Home Movie
Amateur film19488 minsSilent
It's an austerity Christmas from 1948 with a scary looking Santa Claus dishing out the presents and the kisses.
A Message from Mars
Science Fiction191360 minsSilent
Britain's first full-length science fiction feature has been restored by the BFI National Archive and given a new score by composer Matthew Herbert, commissioned by the BFI and the BBC.
Manufacture of Stilton Cheese
Ever wondered how your Christmas Stilton is made? All is revealed in this delectable short produced by pioneer Charles Urban.
Childrens' Christmas Parties
Home movie19528 minsSilent Location: Norwich
The ring on the string keeps moving! Party games, a finger buffet and a ventriloquist dummy entertain the children of the Lane and Scrutton families at Christmastime.
A Little Fragrance Clings to the Hand that Gives You Roses
Amateur film19847 mins
Agnes Mendelstien is heading for a nervous breakdown as more and more unwanted Christmas presents from her over-generous suitor, start piling up.
As Christmas Draws Near
An eccentric parade of mechanical toys to tantalise 1920s kids - and to remind us that Christmas consumerism is nothing new.
19504 minsSilent Location: Leeds
A great example of an integrated family of immigrants from different religious backgrounds showing just how Christmas can be enjoyed the traditional way in post-war Britain.
Lonely Lightship's Christmas
Non-Fiction19221 mins Location: Lynn Channel
A crew of not-so-lonely lightshipmen enjoy a festive knees-up - 40 miles out at sea - in this heart-warming newsreel.
The Mistletoe Bough
Discover a haunted gem, the earliest film of the Christmas ghost story The Mistletoe Bough. Guaranteed to spook a whole new generation over a hundred years after its creation. With new music by Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne, commissioned by the BFI.
Family Christmas in East Grinstead and Woodingdean
Amateur film196712 minsSilent
There isn't a battery in sight in this Christmas film from 1967 but we do see the pudding being made and sense the thrill of presents being opened.
Family Christmas with the Dawson Family
Home movie19635 minsSilent Location: Norwich
The Dawson family from Norwich conjure up a great Christmas with games and trickery to entertain the children in this home movie.
New Year Resolutions
Non-Fiction19702 mins Location: Birmingham
Drinking, smoking, gambling: what are you giving up? It's new year's eve 1970 and the people of Birmingham tell us about their resolutions.
Amateur film19838 minsSilent Location: Middlesbrough
A Cleveland family ring in the festive season with Bucks Fizz. But this family Christmas is not what it seems.
Christmas Shopping, Godalming 1922
Amateur film19223 minsSilent Location: Godalming
The timber-framed establishments of old Godalming lure shoppers with their enticing displays of yuletide fare and mistletoe.
TV mascot Gus Honeybun in Weymouth Christmas Parade
News19801 minsSilent Location: Weymouth
The Royal Marines Band hold a Christmas Parade with Gus Honeybun in Weymouth
Our Christmas 1941 - Spent at Daisy's and Dolly's
Amateur film19417 minsSilent
It's the season to eat, drink and be merry in the Tigg household, with feasting and jollity captured in this vivid amateur film.
Amateur film19634 minsSilent
A table overladen with food, a wolf-pack of hungry visitors, trendy teenagers in the kitchen and lots of eating. It's Christmas 1963-style.
Magician's Wife Makes the Christmas Cake
Amateur film19498 minsSilent
There's magical mayhem in the kitchen when the magician's wife makes use of a most unusual cooking utensil - her husband's magic wand.
Kench Family Films: 1966, Redbridge and West End (1966)
Home movie196617 minsSilent Location: Ilford
Ilford parades, Post Office Tower views as well as weddings, birthdays and Christmas all feature on this fantastic home movie from Redbridge in 1966.
The Streets of Hong Kong - Wintertime 1936
Amateur film193817 minsSilent Location: Hong Kong
Christmas decorations jostle for attention among thousands of street signs in this amateur exploration of Hong Kong Island’s busy streets.
Christmas 1952 Santa Claus Comes to Craig Cefn Parc
Amateur film19524 minsSilent Location: Craig-cefn-parc
Santa Claus – wearing the traditional robes and a black mask – arrives in the village of Craig Cefn Parc, near Clydach, Swansea, with a horse-drawn sleigh full of presents.
Gilchrist Brothers' & Childrens' Christmas Parties
Amateur film19465 minsSilent Location: Bradford
With the war now over, these children make the most of a civilized Christmas Party with home-made hats, dancing and tucking into the traditional fare of sandwiches and cakes.
Boulter Family Films: Family and Friends Christmas Party, Becontree (1965)
Amateur film19652 minsSilent Location: Becontree
Two-minutes glimpse of an East London Christmas part, with a small amount of present-opening and a whole lot of hat-wearing and raucous dancing.
Closure of Snibston Colliery
Current affairs19835 mins Location: Snibston
A bleak Christmas for the men of Snibston Colliery as mining in Coalville comes to an end in the last days of 1983.
Home movie195110 minsSilent Location: Norwich
Party hats and finger food, funny faces, and a snowball fight; the Lane-Scrutton families enjoy a Christmas get-together and a giggle in this 1951 home movie.
Non-Fiction19291 minsSilent Location: Glasgow
Pedestrians hustle briskly through a snowy George Square in Glasgow, while others stop to gawk at a stricken carthorse.
The Iles - in the garden, at the seaside, at Christmas
Amateur film194010 minsSilent Location: Heath
Life with the Iles family: Summer is for cycling, the seaside, tending to tortoises and meeting delightful collie pups. Christmas is for crackers and the gift of a perfect doll.
The Traditions of a Surgeon at Christmas
Amateur film196217 minsSilent Location: Cambridge
The filmic memoirs in Cambridgeshire of heart surgeon Christopher Parish and his family, beginning with Christmas traditions, and including a royal visit. The year is 1962.
Your Stamp Duty
Public Information Filler19471 mins
A rich spinster aunt, the last post before Christmas, and an expectant nephew with a fondness for port spell trouble in this short comic cinema ad.
Christmas Celebrations and the Cruel Cat
Amateur film19694 minsSilent
It's Christmas Day and while the family enjoys their annual feast the cat is having a Christmas 'banquet' of its own.
Keep Them Safe, Keep Them Happy
Charity appeal19392 minsSilent Location: Norwich
Sweet and touching wartime cinema appeal for 300,000 London children spending Christmas far from home.
Lloyd George at Home: Xmas 1938 & Jan 1939
Amateur film19389 minsSilent Location: Churt
Santa Claus arriving at a house full of children on Xmas Day has not forgotten their elders - even Lloyd George gets a present! And the new year brings Chow Chow pups and snow.
Christmas at East Grinstead in 1972
Amateur film197211 minsSilent Location: East Grinstead
Christmas features twice, in this 1970s compilation. After each Christmas dinner the family opens its presents. Dad gets underpants in 1972 and six years later - a compost bin.
What's The Hurry?
Promotional19343 minsSilent Location: Walton-on-Thames
"Wise people are hastening to Walton-On-Thames". This inventive ad promotes the Surrey town as the ultimate Christmas shopping destination.
A Christmas Story
Amateur film19523 minsSilent Location: Kent
It's Christmas 1952 and after the presents, the decorations and the cake are made ready, all generations of the family gather for the big party
Christmas at Marlene's 1965
Home movie19655 minsSilent Location: Sale
Oh, you really shouldn't have, but thank you - presents and party hats for everyone at a family Christmas.
Geck Family Film Christmas 1962
Amateur film19626 minsSilent Location: North Walsham
A toy banjo and Groucho Marx novelty glasses-and-moustache supply all the fun for the youngest member of the Geck family at Christmastime.
Diamond Family Christmas
Amateur film19637 minsSilent Location: Sidcup
It's Christmas in Sidcup in 1963 and the Diamond family - including dancing Nan - open presents, tuck into the turkey and raise a glass – or three
Ireland Family New Year Party 1974/5
Home movie19744 minsSilent Location: Garston
Should old acquaintance be forgot... not likely at this family get-together in Liverpool.
Craig-cefn-parc: Mine, School and Christmas Cake
Home movie194814 minsSilent Location: Craig-cefn-parc
A stunning record of life in Craig-cefn-parc, Swansea, showing the local mine, the chapel (Pantycrwys), the school and the community.