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Countdown to Christmas with BBC ALBA

14 December 2023

Star-studded schedule unveiled as BBC ALBA invites viewers to get ready for the festive season in style 

Cathy MacDonald, Coinneach MacLeod (aka The Hebridean Baker) and Anne McAlpine are among the personalities inviting viewers to get ready to party with BBC ALBA as it reveals a stellar line up for its 2023 festive season schedule.

BBC ALBA has something for everyone this Christmas and New Year with a schedule set to entertain throughout the festive break.

With a line-up of much-loved Gaelic personalities and a host of programmes which promise to deliver a captivating mix of inspiring first-person stories, nostalgic archive, and heart-warming classics, BBC ALBA is the perfect place to celebrate the festive season.

Margaret Cameron, Director of Content at MG ALBA said: “This year, our programming is not just about entertainment; it’s a celebration of all Scotland has to offer. From pure escapism to insightful explorations into real people and real places, the schedule is packed with original programming which promises a diverse and engaging viewing experience.

“With a glittering line up featuring some of the best known and emerging talents in Scotland, we extend a warm invitation to both new and returning audiences to join BBC ALBA this season to embrace our vibrant culture and get to know our ‘famous stars a little bit better.”

The classic Christmas special Alleluia na Nollaig (24 December, 11pm) hosted by Iain MacKinnon, celebrates 100 years of Gaelic broadcasting with readings, reflections and carols. This follows Tuath Cheòl (24 December, 9pm) – a new two-part archive series with singer Ruairidh Gray with highlights from the legendary 90s Gaelic-meets-country music series recorded at the Grand Ole Opry; and Geamannan nan Eilean (23 December, 7.30pm) which looks back at the International Island Games which took place in Guernsey earlier this year.

Christmas Day offers a feel-good double bill, with Bill agus an Spitfire – Bill and the Spitfire (8.30pm) following 90-year-old retired airline pilot Bill as he fulfils his lifelong ambition to fly a Spitfire; viewers are then invited ‘behind the scenes’ with The Hebridean Baker – Bèicear nan Eilean (9pm).

Stunning new short drama Cur is Dlùth – Cloe, Warp and Weft also airs on 25 December (6pm) which follows a young girl’s perilous journey to reach family unity and a colourful future; while 11-year-old Mia achieves her dream of riding the family donkey on the beaches of Lewis in the short documentary, Mia agus Jimmy an t-Asal – Mia and Jimmy the Donkey (6.40pm).

On Boxing Day, Hugh Dan (26 December, 9pm), follows one of Scotland’s most recognisable sports broadcasters. Hanging up his microphone earlier this year after a 40-year career, the documentary shines a spotlight on the life and times of Hugh Dan MacLennan. Ramsay MacMahon sets off on his travels to Vienna to indulge himself in all things Christmas in Mach à Seo! An Roinn Eòrpa (10pm), sampling the festive food and drink on offer at the Christmas markets and local cafes while learning about the age-old traditions; while new Gaelic adaptation of the hit movie Creag nam Buthaidean agus na Caraidean Ùra – Puffin Rock and the New Friends (5pm) provides film fun for all the family as Oona, Baba and friends try to bring a missing egg to the safety of the burrows before it is lost.

Looking towards 2024 with a firm focus on music, Peat & Diesel invite viewers to join them on tour and in life across two roller coaster music documentaries (airing on 28 December and 1 January at 9pm); while Fuaim na Fèisean – Scotland’s Festivals (30 December, 9pm), takes a nostalgic look at the 50-year history of Scotland’s music festivals. Exploring some of the best 2023 events, musician Iain “Spanish” MacKay meets the performers, organisers and fans – braving all kinds of weather – to find out what makes the true ‘festival experience’ today.

Bring in the bells with Cèilidh na Bliadhn’ Ùire (31 December, from 11.30pm), with Cathy Macdonald and Niall Iain Macdonald hosting the live Hogmanay ceilidh from Govan Old Town Hall, with performances from Tide Lines, the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band, Rachel Walker, Mischa MacPherson, Darren Maclean, Finlay MacDonald and the Binneas Choir, conducted by John Joe MacNeil.

The magic continues into 2024 with the brand new series of An Clò Mòr (from 8 January, 9pm). Season two is set to illuminate the winter evenings, promising even more high drama – and high fashion – against the stunning backdrop of the Western Isles.

The fourth instalment of Druthag na Hearadh – A little drop of Harris (31 December, 8.30pm) visits the Harris Distillery as their first batch of whisky goes on sale, almost eight years after the first spirit was distilled; and Ceòl Sìth (31 December, 9pm) follows musician Ingrid Henderson’s thrilling journey through Scotland’s mythical world of fairies and folklore. The first of a new eight-part series set in the stunning Scottish countryside, sees Ramsay MacMahon join eight guests for a walk during which they reflect on life, love, nature and loss in Rathad Ramsay (Saturdays at 8pm from 6 January).

Tune in to BBC ALBA and iPlayer over the festive period, with all new programming from 23 December. Watch live or on demand: BBC ALBA – website