Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Great British Baking Show: Holidays’ 2023 on Netflix, A Festive and Funny Pair of Holiday Episodes

Every year since 2018, Netflix has provided us with a festive, holiday edition of The Great British Baking Show called The Great British Baking Show: Holidays. This year, the sixth installment of the holiday edition drops, featuring two festive episodes, the first featuring celebrity bakers trying their hand at classic, Christmasy bakes, and the second featuring four returning bakers from seasons past. On the holiday edition, the stakes are never quite as high as a regular season, so the vibe is a little looser, and the twinkle-light decor is ramped up even more than usual, making it a cozy way to get ready for the holidays.

Opening Shot: “Hello, Matt. Happy Christmas,” Noel Fielding says to his co-host Matt Lucas, and I know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t we get rid of Matt this season and come to a global conclusion that Alison Hammond is a treasure?” Indeed we did, but this Great British Baking Show holiday special was recorded last year and already aired in England, we’re only getting it in America now.

The Gist: The Great British Baking Show: Holidays collection consists of two episodes, one is a celebrity-filled episode called The Great Christmas Baking Show which features five iconic TV personalities from England’s Channel 4 that most Americans have never heard of: Gaby Roslin, Sir Tony Robison, Miquita Oliver, Terry Christian, and Claire Sweeney. The second episode, The Great New Year Baking Show, features well-loved bakers from past seasons of the Baking Show who might be more recognizable to avid viewers of the show. Appearing this year are season 12 finalist Chigs, season 11’s Lottie, and season 9 bakers Manon and Antony. In each episode, the bakers have to complete signature, technical, and showstopper bakes as on the regular show.

The main difference between the episodes, besides the celebrity factor, is the fact that the bakers who have already competed in the tent are generally much more skilled, while the actual celebs are not shy about admitting they don’t know what they’re doing. (Still, they manage to avoid going full Nailed It! and actually produce some polished bakes, though the bar is set a bit lower for them.)

While each episode is competitive and someone is named Star Baker, the point of these episodes is not winning or losing, but just having fun, and it’s clear everyone here is doing just that.

Our Take: The Baking Show‘s warmth and charm lends itself to the holidays, so these two episodes basically double down on the show’s original feel-good formula in the best, most festive way. The thing that sticks out for me, as an American viewer, is the fact that I have no idea who any of the celebrities in the Christmas edition are. They’re all still fun to watch since they’re professional entertainers, and no one takes themselves too seriously, you just can’t help but think that it would be a more entertaining watch for an audience who’s actually familiar with these people.

The New Year’s episode is equally enjoyable (why don’t we have more New Year’s TV specials? I feel like this is a fun way to start the year!), as the four contestants seem to be having a great time being back at the show, and it’s always fun to see forgotten faces. (Truly – while I have seen every episode of this show, I feel like I have terrible name/face recognition, so watching this episode is a constant barrage of thoughts like “Oh, right, Manon! I forgot about her!”)

Parting Shot: After a winner is crowned and receives their cake stand, the bakers and the crowd are treated to a performance of Swan Lake.

Performance Worth Watching: Writer and TV presenter Terry Christian, who appears in the Christmas episode, is genuinely funny and has some wild moments on the show, including a memorable, unexpected explosion of choux pastry our of a piping bag. In another funny quip, he explains that he didn’t practice his showstopper bake in advance because “practice is cheating.”

Memorable Dialogue: “It is a bit gritty,” Matt says as he looks at celebrity contestant Gaby Roslin’s batter for bauble cake. Gritty is never good.

Our Call: STREAM IT! I’m someone who never tires of The Great British Baking Show and this season’s holiday edition features bakers who are a lot of fun to watch and offer some truly funny moments.

Liz Kocan is a pop culture writer living in Massachusetts. Her biggest claim to fame is the time she won on the game show Chain Reaction.