Hallmark holiday lineup, including movies set and filmed in CT, starts tonight

Photo of Nicole Funaro

A steady stream of holiday movies have been filming in Connecticut over the past six months, and starting tonight, viewers can finally start watching them on the small screen.

Hallmark Channel has begun its “Countdown to Christmas” programming, launching a schedule of new holiday movies for the 2021 season. The network kicks off its holiday film series with the premiere of a new film called, “You, Me & The Christmas Trees.” Set in Connecticut on an Avon tree farm, the film stars Danica McKellar as Olivia and Benjamin Ayres as Jack as they work together to solve a mystery illness causing the Christmas trees on Jack’s farm to die out and fall for each other in the process, according to a Hallmark press release

But the setting isn’t the film’s only connection to the Nutmeg State. The script for the movie was written by Julie Sherman Wolfe, a Hallmark screenwriter based in Avon who has set a number of the network’s film in Connecticut. Her 2020 Christmas film  "One Royal Holiday,"  was shot in Putnam and set in Kentsbury, a fictional mash-up of Kent and Simsbury. 

Hallmark movie "Christmas in Harlem" filmed in parts of Hartford, Conn. the weekend of Sept. 18- 19, 2021.

Hallmark movie "Christmas in Harlem" filmed in parts of Hartford, Conn. the weekend of Sept. 18- 19, 2021.

Scoops & Sprinkles / Contributed Photo

“There’s something about fall and winter in Connecticut in particular that feels romantic,” Wolfe told Connecticut Magazine in an interview about setting Hallmark films in Connecticut. 

On Nov. 6, Hallmark will debut “Next Stop, Christmas,” starring Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Lyndsy Fonseca and Chandler Massey in the film about a time-traveling Christmas train that drops main character Angie off in her hometown in 2011. While there are no details yet on where this film is set, Rocky Hill-based film and production company Synthetic Cinema International worked on the film, according to the company’s IMDB

Gernhard’s Synthetic Cinema will also have another holiday film premiering in Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” on Nov. 14. Called “A Holiday in Harlem,” the film stars Olivia Washington, Will Adams and Tina Lifford and tells a Christmas tale of Jazmin, who returns to Harlem to visit her grandmother, co-chairs a Christmas Jamboree and reconnects with an old friend in the process, according to ET Online. While set in Harlem, the film was shot in September in and around the Hartford area. 

Hallmark movie "Christmas in Harlem" filmed in parts of Hartford, Conn. the weekend of Sept. 18- 19, 2021.

Hallmark movie "Christmas in Harlem" filmed in parts of Hartford, Conn. the weekend of Sept. 18- 19, 2021.

Scoops & Sprinkles / Contributed Photo

For Gernhard, shooting the Harlem-set movie in Connecticut was a matter of finding similarities between the two locations. 

“We shot basically all of it in the Hartford area,” he said. “We obviously looked at a lot of research, and we were able to find little bits of Hartford and East Hartford sections that match up with Harlem, and we recreated all that in Connecticut.”

Filming Hallmark’s Christmas films in the summer adds an extra layer of movie magic necessary to produce wintry effects in unseasonable weather. 

“What we do is we'll shoot a wide shot of a store, and we'll put fake snow there and our actors will interact there, but we'll shoot really wide and then we'll digitally take the tree down or we'll add snow to the roof,” he said. “It's just a matter of choosing your shots and how to frame them and how to use computer graphics to make it feel like winter.”

According to IMDB, Synthetic Cinema also worked on the Hallmark film premiering on Dec. 17, “Sugar Plum Twist.” Information on the film’s plot is not yet public. 

In addition to Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” lineup, its Movies & Mysteries sister network also has schedule of new holiday movies for this season. Called “Miracles of Christmas,” the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Network has nine holiday movies slated to premiere every Saturday starting Oct. 23 through Dec. 18.