THERE’S nothing quite like cosying up with a hot drink and settling down to watch a classic Christmas film.. or for that matter, a classic film at Christmas.Yes there’s difference.

There’s no shortage of festive films that are wheeled out every December for movie buffs to enjoy time and time again. Heartwarming family favourites such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Actually, The Snowman, Meet Me in St Louis, White Christmas are always 'go to' film choices at his time of year.

Then of course there’s the classic films that come on every holiday and no doubt will fill our TV guides once again this Christmas – the Sound of Music, the Wizard of Oz, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, E.T and so on.

The Sound of Music has, in fact, become such a seasonal stalwart that to its legion of fans it is now synonymous with Christmas, even though it’s set in Austria during the summer of 1938.

No matter how much a fan you are of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, it may surprise you to know that one of the stars of the film was from right here in Essex. Richard Haydn, who plays the Von Trapps' family friend Max Detweiler in the 1965 blockbuster grew up in Southend. He even attended the Southend High School for Boys before he was discovered by Noel Coward and whisked off to Hollywood.

Another film sure to grace our screens this Christmas will be The Great Escape - and that too also has an Essex connection. John Leyton, who played Tunnel King Willie Dikes in the star-studded 1963 war epic, was born in Frinton. Today, aged 82, he lives just across the border in Suffolk.

If it's hardcore Christmas- themed cinema fun that you are after, there's a bumper crop of yuletide screenings in Essex this December to get you into the festive mood. Here's a roundup of what's on and when.



This film needs no introduction. Frank Capra’s 1946 classic is not just revered as one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, but one of the best movies of all time, full stop! The heart-warming film tells the story of George Bailey, played by James Stewart, who falls on hard times on Christmas Eve and even ponders suicide. When his guardian angel Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) intervenes, he shows George what life would have been like without him, thus giving him the greatest gift of all.

Where to catch it: The Civic Theatre in Chelmsford will be screening It’s Wonderful Life on Tuesday December 11 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £6.90 and you’ll even get a free mince pie and glass of mulled wine.



‘To me you are perfect’.. if this scene doesn’t melt your heart, you need to see a doctor. Richard Curtis’s 2003 rom-com famously features a star-studded ensemble cast – Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightly, Blll Nighy, Colin Firth and the fabulous Alan Rickman to name but a few. It charts the lives of 10 Londoners with interlinking lives in the run up to Christmas. Look out for the 'Basildon' mention in one scene!

Where to see it: Experience the film in a whole new way at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend on Thursday December 6 when Love Actually is screened live across the UK with a full orchestra performing its enchanting score . A full, live orchestra will perform Craig Armstrong’s evocative score with the film being projected onto a huge screen. Tickets range from £33-£69.



This 1954 musical starring is a riot of dance, song and colour.. and of course it features Bing Crosby crooning out the iconic song' White Christmas.

Also starring Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen the movie features the songs of Irving Berlin and charts the story of two World War II U.S. Army soldiers, one a Broadway entertainer, Captain Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby), the other an aspiring entertainer, Private Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) as they attempt to put on a Christmas stage show in rural Vermont.

Where to see it: The Palace Theatre in Westcliff will be screening White Christmas on Sunday December 16. Tickets cost £7.50 via A free dementia-friendly screening of the film will also take place at the Empire Theatre in Halstead on Thursday December 6.



Who's your buddy? Comedy giant Will Ferrell stars as Buddy, a human being who has spent his whole life believing himself to be an elf. Brought up by Santa (Edward Asner) and his elves at the North Pole, Buddy has spent the last 30 years happily working in Santa’s toy workshop. But when his ungainly size starts to become a liability in the elf-sized working environment, Santa suggests that Buddy head to New York City to find his biological father (James Caan).

Where to see it: Elf will be shown at the Palace Theatre in Westcliff on Sunday December 16 at 1pm. Tickets cost £7.50.



This is a black and white festive treat. Made in 1945 and starring the fantastic Barbara Stanwyck and Sydney Greenstreet, it tells the story of a food

writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife and must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.

Where to see it: Enjoy Christmas in Conneticut at the Palace Theatre on Sunday December 16 at 4pm. Tickets are £7.50.