Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas is an hour-long Sesame Street Christmas special, that first aired on HBO on November 25, 2016. The special was taped during the week of June 13th and features guest stars Audra McDonald, Zosia Mamet, and Jim Gaffigan (as Santa Claus).
The special was awarded "Outstanding Children's Program" in the 2017 Emmy Awards.
“Once Upon a Sesame Christmas opens with the lyrical number “Holiday Lights,” a musical glimpse into the homes of Sesame Street families celebrating winter holidays, and unfolds into a fanciful bedtime story that brings the past alive. After a day of holiday fun, while being tucked into bed on Christmas Eve, Elmo asks, “Why do we leave cookies out for Santa?"
As his father spins a tale about a dreary Sesame Street of yesteryear, a place so unfriendly not even Santa Claus would visit, viewers are transported to a period-perfect 19th-century city neighborhood, with characters in authentic hand-sewn costumes, but marked by unkindness and a serious lack of holiday spirit. Luckily, Elmo’s great-great-great-grandmonster moves into the neighborhood with the best of intentions and endless good will, gradually winning over the unhappy citizens and bringing kindness and cheer to Sesame Street once and for all.”
- Big Bird, Grover, Ernie, Bert, Rosita, Elmo, Louie, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, Count von Count, Oscar the Grouch, Two-Headed Monster, Mr. Johnson, Becky, Holly, Elf
- Baby Bear, Curly Bear, Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Zoe, Telly Monster, Gladys the Cow, Anything Muppets, AM Monsters, Grouches
Special Guest Stars
Sesame Street Muppet Performers
- Pam Arciero, Billy Barkhurst, Jennifer Barnhart, Tyler Bunch, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Frankie Cordero, Ryan Dillon, Jamie Donmoyer, Liz Hara, Christopher Hayes, Eric Jacobson, Haley Jenkins, Kathleen Kim, Tim Lagasse, Spencer Lott, Lara MacLean, Andrew Moriarty, Carmen Osbahr, Martin P. Robinson, David Rudman, Matt Vogel
19th Century / Present Day Extras
- Xavier Hall, Aubrey Quinn, Nicholas Low, Rosa Salvatierra, Leah Horowitz Stuart, Kolette Tetlow, Julius Thomas III, Jahi Winston
- The PBS version features extra content following the main feature, inserted before the end credits. This includes a live-action film, "H is for Holiday," and a performance of "Jingle Bells" by Elmo, Abby and various others (a Honker, Dinger, horse, penguin, snowball, bell and chicken). A brief portion of the special before the end credits is cut out as well.
- Executive Producer: Brown Johnson
- Co-executive Producer: Ken Scarborough
- Directed by Matt Vogel
- Associate Directors: Ken Diego and Leslie Williams
- Head Writer: Ken Scarborough
- Writer: Geri Cole
- The Jim Henson Company NY Creature Shop: Erin Slattery Black, Ben Duroucher, Michelle Hickey, Doug James, Ariella Knight, Joseph Kovacs, Rollie Krewson, Kari Love, Lara MacLean, Anney Ozar, Constance Peterson, Katie Rusek, Whitney Thayne, Polly Smith, Jason Weber
- Henson Production: Melissa Creighton, Jonathan Ehrich, Joseph Roddy
- Music Director: Bill Sherman
- Music Director - (Arrangements and Orchestrations): Joe Fiedler
- Music Director - (Vocals): Paul Rudolph
- Music Coordinator: Colleen Darnall
- Music Copyist: Joe Fiedler
- Sesame Street Band: Randy Cohen, Michael Croiter, John Deley, Doug Derryberry, Joe Fiedler, Rob Jost, Kenny Rampton, Bill Sherman
- Composers: Eli Bolin, Joe Fiedler, Kathryn Raio, JP Rende, Bill Sherman, Carter Bays, Craig Thomas, Paul Rudolph
- "Holiday Lights" and "It's All About Kindness" Lyrics Written by Molly Boylan
- Costume Designer: Brian Hemesath
- Production Designer: David Gallo
- Sound Effects Editor/Re-Recording Mixer: Dick Maitland