Top 10……Films Set Around Christmas!

It’s Christmas time and holiday cheer is very much on the horizon which often involves people watching classic festive films like ‘Scrooge‘, ‘A Christmas Carol‘, ‘Santa Clause: The Movie‘, erm ‘Jingle All The Way‘ or many of the special TV episodes filmed for this time of the year.

Others like ‘Home Alone‘ (1990), ‘Die Hard‘ (1988), ‘Gremlins‘ (1984) and ‘Lethal Weapon‘ (1987) which are just set during the Christmas season are also popular choices so I have delved into the archives to find some movies (of course ones that I have been to some filming locations of!) with seasonal connections whether it be a major one or a really tenuous link!

So here then, in no particular order, is the TF top 10……

1. In Bruges (2008) – Certainly not the first one that comes to mind when you think of films taking place at Christmas! Two Irish hit-men hide out in Belgium during the holiday season not that it’s at all important to the storyline. The woman at the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel, where they stay, is doing something with the Christmas tree in one scene and their angry boss, Ralph Fiennes, shouts at his wife in front of their tree and kids in another.

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2. Ghostbuster II (1989) – The sequel is set in New York City during the Christmas period and culminates on New Years Eve as a crowd of locals sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. A Christmas tree is visible during at least one scene and I guess one other festive link this has is that it was made (according to some critics!) to sell toys at Christmas time!

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3. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – This Stanley Kubrick-directed erotic thriller is not your traditional Christmas film in any way! It opens at a big Christmas party before  Tom Cruise’s jealous character goes on a sexual odyssey so that he can feel equal to his “cheating” wife. However, not all is straight forward as he soon witnesses a secret sex society and people begin dying. It’s lacking in festive tunes and the common joviality shown by many at that time of the year. Christmas trees can be seen throughout as London doubles up for New York in holiday season.

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4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – In his one and only appearance as James Bond, George Lazenby takes the reins of the double agent in the sixth 007 movie. Part of the film takes place at Grindelwald in Switzerland during the Christmas season snow is all around. Festive connections include a Christmas tree at the Piz Gloria clinic, presents for the ladies and there’s even a Christmas song called “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown.”

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5. Love Actually (2003) – By far the most festive film in this list as a large group of inter-related people are followed for the five weeks leading up to Christmas, exploring their various love-states. An all-star cast take part in this feel-good film.

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6. About A Boy (2002) – Bachelor Will (Hugh Grant) has no job and doesn’t need to have one as he can just live off the royalties of “Santa’s Super Sleigh”; a Christmas song his father composed in the past. Towards the end of the film we see Will hosting a Christmas gathering at his place with his new extended support system.

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7. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – Thirty-something singleton Bridget is introduced to Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) at her parents’ Christmas party and is not impressed. He’s snooty and wears Christmas jumpers but as we know that eventually changes over time among several pivotal holiday-themed/snow scenes.

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8. The English Patient (1996) – A Hungarian cartographer choosing to maintain the assumption by others that he is an Englishman is badly burned in a plane crash during World War II and relays parts of his past via flashbacks and one of these includes a Christmas party scene where amidst a chorus of Silent Night, Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas) is seduced by Almásy (Ralph Fiennes).

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9. When Harry Met Sally (1989) – Several Christmas and New Year’s-related scenes take place in this romantic comedy which spans over 15 years.

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10. I am Legend (2007) – A viral outbreak occurs on Christmas Eve 2009 in Manhattan, and quickly spreads across the world. The epidemic seemingly begins in the lead up to the Christmas season and festive decorations can be seen throughout the early parts of this Will Smith movie.

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Bonus: The Bourne Identity (2002) – Remember when Bourne and Marie seeked refuge in the French countryside? Well, they go to stay at her stepbrother’s place where Bourne notices the Christmas lights are still on. That sign of recent occupancy tells him that they have to leave before the owners return. It is also snowing throughout most of the film which is usually a good indication that it’s the holiday season.


New York Filming Locations: Ghostbusters (1984)

The pre-title credits begin with a shot of the marble lion outside the New York Public Library (below) at 455 5th Avenue where the first super-natural experience takes place before Ray Parker Junior’s famous title song (which I did as a gap-fill activity in Halloweeen lessons a couple of years back) kicks in.


Columbia University (below) on 2960 Broadway is first seen during the opening credits but its first proper appearance is after 14 minutes when Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) explains to Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) on the steps of the Low Memorial Library that it was their destiny to get “thrown out of this dump” so they can go into business themselves.


They get their loan on 15 minutes from Manhattan City Bank which in reality is the Irving Trust Building seen below. It’s at 1 Wall Street in lower Manhattan.

Along with Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) they set up their paranormal exterminator service in a retired firehouse and so ‘Ghostbusters‘ is born. This building (below) is better known as Hook & Ladder Company #8 and actually is a real firehouse at 14 North Moore Street and was the first location on my list when I knew I was going to New York. There is a sign painted on the pavement in front of it which is not too dissimilar to the Ghostbusters sign. The firehouse is seen on 15, 20, 22, 29, 45, 60, 64 and 68 minutes as well as in the sequel ‘Ghostbusters II‘ where one of my screenshots is from.


Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and Venkman meet by chance on 42 mins at the Lincoln Centre (below) where they dicuss the information he’s found on her apartment and why it may be haunted. This place also appeared in the award winning 2010 film ‘Black Swan‘ and is located on Columbus Avenue between West 63rd and 64th Streets.


The Ghostbusters vehicle gets a police escort on 78 minutes along Centre Street and Chambers Street (below right) as the four-some have a “date with a ghost” at Barrett’s  haunted apartment.


That apartment is on 55 Central Park West (below right) and is actually first seen on 17 minutes when Barrett encounters paranormal activity which eventually leads to her hiring the Ghostbusters team. This place is pivotal in the films climax as, after ascending to the roof of the building, they eventually come up against the giant Stay Puft marshmallow man.


Just a couple of bonus New York locations to add to this from the 1989 sequel ‘Ghostbusters II‘ which sees the team arrive at the Manhattan Museum of Art. This is the old US Customs House on 1 Bowling Green at Broadway. It is now the National Museum of the American Indian (below) and also featured in ‘Batman Forever‘.


The movie ends with an event to say ‘Thank-you Ghostbusters’ which is held right next to the Statue of Liberty (below) on Liberty Island where the Mayor and the people of New York give the paranormal exterminators the key to the city as a plan is made to restore the famous statue after it was used (and no doubt damaged) to break through something or another towards the films end.