RTÉ has unwrapped its Christmas line-up with a feast of home-produced programming across television, radio and online.
From the best in Irish-made documentaries to big Irish music specials, home-grown comedy, lifestyle programmes and movie premieres, along with a New Year’s Eve party extravaganza from Dublin,RTÉ says there is big selection of programming for all tastes this holiday season.
It was a year of some notable losses across Ireland, and this Christmas RTÉ pays tribute and remembers. Brendan Grace Thanks for the Memories the Concert, a one-off special filmed at the Olympia Theatre, sees the cream of Ireland’s show business community pay tribute to one of the greatest Irish entertainers of all time. In Brendan Grace - A Late Late Tribute, we take look back at comedian Brendan Grace's most memorable moments down through the years as a guest on The Late Late Show on RTÉ One.
Following his recent passing, Niall Tóibín: Everyman (above) is a celebration of Tóibín’s brilliant career and a look at his lasting legacy. Garech Browne: Last Days at Luggala is a moving tribute to one of the greatest modern patrons of the arts.
No Planet B: The Day We Took the Dáil is an emotional observational documentary following three dynamic young Irish people who are passionate about climate change - and who are all on their way to Dáil Éireann to do something about it. Leaving Limbo is the inspiring story of teenage best friends Natasha and Minahil – who grew up in Athlone as asylum seekers and are now navigating the tricky task of acing the Leaving Cert. Back from the Brink, presented by Derek Mooney, demonstrates that with determination and passion we can start to turn things around, and re-build our fragile environment. And news2day will take a look back at the year in news which was dominated by climate action from school climate strikes to the RTÉ Youth Assembly on Climate.
And because we all love a bit of nostalgia at Christmas, the theme continues with The Big Christmas Rewind, a cracker of a show featuring Irish celebrities and their families sitting down together to rewind through a heart-warming and hilarious mix of the best of Irish Christmas telly from years gone by And as she hangs up her Nationwide hat, Mary Kennedy: as Seen on TV spools back through the archives and selects some memorable moments from her 40 year television career.
Once upon a Time at Christmas is RTEjr’s brand new exciting and hilarious panto for Christmas 2019. Join the Big Bad Wolf as he tries to show the world that he has changed his ways for good and is now the Big Good Wolf. Join a host of familiar RTEjr faces as they sing and dance their way to a happy ever after.
Great Irish Interiors is a new three-part series, following the fascinating work of historical interior experts as they transform Doneraile Court, Emo Court and Kylemore Abbey.
Ireland’s Rich List: 21st Century Hotshots is a two part series, presented by Richard Curran, which goes through the top 30 billionaires and millionaires who make up this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, revealing what it takes to join this exclusive club.
In the festive tradition Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas specials returns; Agnes’ world is turned upside down when an angel arrives in Finglas and grants her a wish to see what life would be like if she’d never been born. Kevin Kennedy guest stars. everyone in the Brown household is concerned at the news that the poisoner Peggy Piper has been released from prison, Winnie especially. Sue Vincent guest stars.
On Christmas Eve Carols from Kilkenny Castle is presented by Mary Kennedy, featuring Colm Wilkinson, Claudia Boyle, Kilkenny's own Ronan Tynan, Jack L, Róisín Ó and her new band Thanks Brother and Hudson Taylor, accompanied by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and a host of local choirs. Pat Shortt Music from D’Telly will feature festive favourites and rarely seen performances from some of Ireland’s best-loved musical artists including Mary Black, Colm Willkinson, Sonny Knowles, Elvis Costello and more. The return of Irish music sensations Westlife in 2019 saw sold-out performances in Croke Park and we bring viewers an hour-long special of the summer concerts.
An hour-long Fair City special on Christmas Day has families coming together with the early return of Sash Bishop, heavily pregnant with Orla and Wayne's baby, and a lonely Ger shows up to Christmas dinner at the Collins', leaving Sharon horrified and Hayley caught in the middle.
The Christmas Letter is a new Irish animation based on the true story of a Christmas letter to Santa found in Terenure, Dublin decades later, with the voices of Catriona Balfe, Fiona Shaw. And what would seasonal telly be without a feast of Christmas movies? Movie premieres include Beauty and the Beast, Paddington 2, Bridget Jones's Baby, Damo and Ivor – The Movie, Office Christmas Party, Storks, The Christmas Letter and Irish movie Float Like A Butterfly with Hazel Doube as a woman champion boxer. Classic film crackers such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Santa Claus 2, Home Alone, Mrs Doubtfire, Indiana Jones and Back to the Future will also feature over the festive season.
Rory O'Connell blends his unique cooking style and ingenuity to create some interesting Christmas recipes in a two-part seasonal special. In search of mouth-watering Irish Christmas food, Neven Maguire heads to Co Waterford while Donal Skehan offer tips and tricks to the holiday season in Super Food in Minutes
The RTÉ Sport Awards 2019, presented by Darragh Maloney and Joanne Cantwell, will come live from Studio 4 in RTÉ. There’s also live coverage of the FIFA Club World Cup, and four days of live racing from the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
The Second Captains are back with a New Year’s Eve special, when the search for Ireland's Greatest Non-Sportsperson Sportsperson will continue. On Playing with Words, a Cultural Journey through Sport, Darren Frehill is joined by some special guests, including authors Dermot Bolger and Louise Nealon.
Shane Lowry – Open sees award-winning filmmaker Ross Whitaker (Katie, Anthony Foley – Munsterman) tell the remarkable tale behind the Offaly man’s British Open win this summer while a radio documentary The Clara Jug: Four Days in Portrush will also tell the story.
On New Year's Eve, Ireland's Fittest Family - Celebrity Special, will see reality star Brian Dowling, sports presenter Jacqui Hurley, athletes Rob and Maria Heffernan and actor David O'Sullivan get put through their paces in Kilruddery's famous Hell & Back course.
Party into the New Year with Tipperary star Una Healy and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra together with a star studded cast, including The Waterboys, David Gray, Wallis Bird, Brian Kennedy and many more special guests for what promises to be a truly magical night.
Following Una Healy's NYE Party, the NYE Countdown Concert from Custom House Quay in Dublin will begin for the spectacular midnight moment. Playing us into the New Year will be Walking on Cars. Music fans can see the whole concert with Ash, Aimee and Lisa McHugh also streamed live on RTÉ Player.
Speaking of the New Year, RTÉ will be unwrapping plenty of new series in early January, including the hotly anticipated return of Dancing with the Stars, the celebrities on which are being revealed this week. Operation Transformation, Tommy Tiernan, One Day all return to our screens in the New Year along with a new series Style Counsellors, Room to Improve: Dermot’s Home, How to be Good with Money, All Walks of Life with Mary McAleese and the return of the ever popular First Dates and of course The Late Late Show.
Joe Duffy’s Liveline continues the tradition of broadcasting from just off Grafton Street on Christmas Eve, joined by Brendan O’Carroll and many more. Derek Mooney gives callers the opportunity to talk directly to Santa Clause as he prepares for his epic journey around the world while Cathal Murray will make your journey home on Christmas Eve that little bit shorter with the best Christmas tunes. Arena’s Christmas Eve Special features Siobhán McSweeney, aka Sister Michael from Derry Girls. In Like Family, Brenda Donohue meets the women on the ‘Gaelic4Mothers and Others’ football team. What they lack in skill on the pitch, they make up for in laughter, support and friendship.
Baz Ashmawy and his mother Nancy present a Christmas Day celebration and Miriam O’Callaghan is in full festive mode with an array of musical guests. The Leap of Faith presents the 'Spirits of Christmas: Past, Present and Future', from Dickensian nostalgia to tales of our times and hopes for the years ahead.
Join John Creedon for his special Christmas show, live from Cork and we remember the late, great Gay Byrne on Christmas afternoon. Rick O’Shea celebrates the world of reading with a Christmas Day Special of The Book Show. Philip King hosts a winter session with some of the names in music who made big noise in 2019, including Lankum and Mick Flannery among others on South Wind Blows Winter session. With hits of the year, and some Christmas tunes.
A very special Christmas Poetry Programme will broadcast on Christmas night with Olivia O’Leary bringing an hour of poetry, music and conversation from Kilkenny Castle. And calling all Elton John fans! Neil Doherty will present Rocketman as he charts the career of the legend. The award winning RTÉ Radio 1 Documentary on One will feature stories that made impact; Majella Moynihan tells of becoming pregnant while in the Gardaí, and what became of Benji the little Gay Bull? Sunday Miscellany Live at Christmas recorded at the National Concert Hall is the highlight of Sunday Miscellany’s live event calendar, broadcasting across two mornings.
Céilí House and South Wind Blows will mark the end of the year in the company of singer Niamh de Burca and music from Other Voices in Dingle. Joe Duffy presents a Leonard Cohen special Cohen Heads, recorded at All Together Now earlier this year while Sean O’Rourke will have a selection of guests and musical entertainment as he reflects on 2019 and looks forward to the New Year.
John Creedon counts us into 2020 with great gusto and even better music on New Year’s Eve and then laugh your way into 2020 with Oliver Callan satirizing 2019 and Marty Morrissey presents Reasons to be Cheerful as we wake up to 2020.
Music fans are in for a treat this holiday season as the 2FM Christmas Ball comes live from the 3Arena on 21 December, with songs from Irish talent including Picture This, Lyra, The RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Aimee, Soulé and Brian Deady and a few more Christmas surprises too! Lottie's Celeb News Special on Christmas Day offers two hours of the best celeb stories and music from 2019 and then to carry 2FM listeners through the evening on Christmas Day from 6pm 2fm Live on Christmas Day Night has the best of Irish musical talent including Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Dermot Kennedy and another helping of Picture This live as well as the best of the Irish Youth Music Awards. The annual 2FM Christmas Quiz returns featuring DJs going head to head on all things music. St Stephen’s Day concerts include Coldplay and Sam Fender. End the year with JJ Hartigan who will broadcast live from Limerick on New Year’s Eve, mixing the biggest tracks of the year along with all your New Year requests.
On Christmas Eve, Marty Whelan is joined by Mary Black, Mike Hanrahan and Chef Neven Maguire with his annual Christmas countdown in the kitchen. Later on Christmas Eve, Evelyn Grant announces the winners of Ireland’s biggest choral competition, RTÉ lyric fm’s Choirs for Christmas.
On Christmas Day, RTÉ lyric fm celebrates the Magic of Christmas with Claudia Boyle, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the Arabella Voices Choir and conductor David Brophy. Later in the evening we have a live performance from January 2012 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin where the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Matthew Halls perform Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.
The Irish National Opera presents an effervescent take on the Cinderella story in Rossini’s ‘La Cenerentola’ on Opera Night with Paul Herriott on December 28th. Brendan Balfe presents a personal memoir of his friend and colleague Gay Byrne – Gaybo and Me on December 29th.
Christmas RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta highlights include a two-part series on legendary traditional musicians Seán ‘ac Dhonncha, Joe Heaney and Séamus Ennis, Bráithre an Cheoil, and the ten-part series Saol agus Saothar Deichniúr Údar Gaeilge on the life and work of ten Irish-language authors .Others worth a listen include the documentary Ár bPéire, one couple’s story of the adoption of their two children, and Coinneal na Nollag - Fáilte agus Dóchas, a concert in aid of the Simon Community with some of the best folk musicians in the west.
Relax over the Christmas break with festive favourites on-demand on RTÉ Player. Stream must-see soap storylines, discover festive food or binge awesome box-sets. Settle in with full seasons of the classics like Love/Hate, ER, Ally McBeal and Frasier or dip into something new like Chris O’Dowd’s State of the Union or the brand new boxset of John Green’s Looking for Alaska. Keep the kids entertained with kids mode on the RTÉ Player with hundreds of episode of fun favourites like Peppa Pig, Fluffy Gardens, Bob the Builder, Nelly & Nora the Christmas Panto. There’s also awesome RTÉ Player Originals to get your teeth into like comedy sketch series The Doireann Project, Converted and a festive short series called Christmas Crack-up where well-known faces get into the Christmas spirit. If podcasts are more your thing, you're in for a treat with the 12 Pods of Christmas - a surprise daily helping of festive joy, including comedy sketches, music and top tips for surviving the season.