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On-screen title


filming underway

Jim Gaffigan with Bert and Ernie

Audra McDonald and the cast

Zosia Mamet and the cast

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 adapted into a storybook on October 17, 2017, and debuted on PBS on November 22. The special was also released on DVD on October 10, 2017.[1]

The special was awarded "Outstanding Children's Program" in the 2017 Emmy Awards.

Official Description

β€œOnce Upon a Sesame Christmas opens with the lyrical number β€œHoliday 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, β€œWhy 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.[2]”




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

Background Muppets:

Baby Bear, Curly Bear, Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Zoe, Telly Monster, Gladys the Cow, Anything Muppets, AM Monsters, Grouches, Cat


Alan, Nina



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.
  • This is Eric Jacobson's first performance as the first head of the Two-Headed Monster following Joey Mazzarino's departure.



Behind the scenes


External links