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Bambi pokes his head out of his home to see snow.
20 Of The Best Winter Movies For Families To Watch That Aren’t About Holidays

Grab some hot chocolate and snuggle up by the fire for these wintry family favorites!

Originally Published: 

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but curling up on the couch with your family to watch a movie is so delightful! It’s always nice to find a movie that matches the seasonal mood, but when it comes to winter movies, very often that means “holiday movie,” which may not always be what you’re going for. So we’ve come up with a list of the best winter movies for kids and families, for when you want snow without Santa and hail without Hanukkah. (Because, believe it or not, there’s actually an entire winter season that extends beyond the month of December, folks!)

All of these movies take place, at least partially, in evocative, frosty settings. From the gleaming snows of Saint Petersburg to the wilds of Alaska, from the Antarctic tundra to fantastical winter wonderlands, they all capture that chilly, pristine, wintry vibe. They may not be exclusively set in the snow, but we can guarantee that any of these movies will scratch your non-holiday-themed-snowy day itch!

While we certainly have modern classics included, we’ve loaded our list with lots of throwback favorites, because nothing pairs better with a wintry movie like a blanket, your kiddos, and a heaping helping of nostalgia.



Growing up in the Scandinavian country of Arendelle, Elsa and Anna couldn’t be closer. The princesses love playing together through the palace halls, Elsa using her magical powers to conjure up to conjure up ice sculptures and snowy wonderlands. But when Elsa’s powers accidentally hurt her Anna in a childhood accident, the elder girl becomes reclusive and the two grow apart. Elsa lives in fear of the day she will one day rule Arenelle as queen – how will she keep her powers secret in such a public role? And shortly after her coronation, things go as badly as she feared, causing her to flee into the mountains, where she inadvertently sends her kingdom into a deep freeze. It’s up to Anna to save the day.

Stream Frozen, rated PG, on Disney+

Little Women

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March are sisters living in Massachusetts during the Civil War. As their father serves the Union Army as a chaplain, they and their formidable mother, Marmee, run the household on a shoestring budget but still find time to extend help and charity to others. While the premise sounds like a bit of a bummer, the love within the family – and the fun they all have with the wealthy next door neighbor, Laurie – is heartwarming and joyful. Over the course of the film, the girls grow into young women, finding their way in the world and living the lives they’ve always dreamed of.

Most of this movie does not take place in the winter, but the scenes that do are so evocative of “Old Timey New England winters” that it is often associated with season.

Stream Little Women, rated PG, on Amazon Prime.



Balto is a bit of an outcast in Nome, Alaska. Half dog and half wolf, he is shunned by humans and dogs alike, but has found an unconventional family with a goose named Boris and two polar bears. One day, a deadly diphtheria epidemic strikes the city’s children, including little Rosy, the only child in town who shows him kindness. The citizens’ only hope is medicine hundreds of miles away. When the sled team tasked with retrieving the medicine, led by the vicious Malamute Steele, is lost in a snowstorm, it’s up to Balto to save the day.

Stream Balto, rated G, on Peacock.

Happy Feet


Mumble to emperor penguin can’t sing, which is a real problem because song is how penguins attract mates. As he grows up, Mumble is shunned by the elders of his flock, but he has some friends of his own. Aptly named “the Amigos,” the group of Adelie penguins encourage Mumble to try to win the heart of Gloria, the penguin of his dreams. Because while he can’t sing, he can do something none of the other birds can: dance!

The lively characters and snow-filled Antarctic landscape make this the perfect winter movie for kids.

Stream Happy Feet, rated PG, on HBO Max.

101 Dalmatians


Pongo and Perdita, a pair of Dalmatians, are over the moon when they have 15 puppies, and their human owners, Roger and Anita, are pretty please too. And when Anita’s friend from her school days, Cruella De Vil, stops by to visit, she too is delighted to see so many puppies... but not for the right reasons. Cruella is determined to kidnap the puppies to turn them into a luxurious fur coat! It’s up to the puppies’ parents, with the help of some other dogs, cats, and other animals along the way, to foil her plan and bring the puppies (plus 1 or 86 more) home.

Again, not specifically a winter movie, but many scenes take place in a snowy landscape.

Stream 101 Dalmatians, rated G, on Disney+.


Amazon Video

When teenage Yi discovers a Yeti living on the roof of her Shanghai apartment building, she is (understandably) shocked. Eventually she wins him over with dumplings and discovers this friendly, magical creature, whom she names Everest, wishes to reunite with his family in the Himalayas... which actually works out great since Yi has always dreamed of going off to see the world (a dream her late father had for her). The pair, along with friends Peng and Jin, set off, but a wealthy businessman, determined to prove the existence of yetis, is on their heels every step of the way.

Stream Abominable, rated PG, on Amazon Prime.

Penguins of Madagascar


Skipper, Rico, Kowalski, and Private (aka the penguins from the Madagascar movies) are back in their very own adventure. After breaking into Fort Knox to thieve some Cheesy Dibbles from the vending machine there, the pegnuins are kidnapped by an Octopus named Dave. Dave, a fellow zoo escapee, loathes penguins, who are seen as cute and cuddly while he was ignored in his habitat for years. Tired of being upstaged, he has invented The Medusa Serum, which turns cute and cuddly penguins into hideous monsters! The team knows it’s up to them to stop Dave... except that a well-meaning but pushy special ops team calling themselves “The North Wind,” made up of Arctic animals, keeps getting in their way.

Stream Penguins of Madagascar: The Movie, rated PG, on Netflix.


Thumbelina searches for her true love through the seasons.Disney+

When a childless woman dreams of a baby, fate gives her a tiny daughter born from a flower. Everything in the world is big to Thumbelina, but nothing is as big as her love for the fairy prince. But when fate separates them, she must cross the great wide world to follow her heart in order to be reunited. Will she be able to stand up to bugs, frogs, mice, and moles to achieve her dreams? This movie is not winter specific, but crosses all the seasons—the winter sequences have some of the best songs!

Stream Thumbelina, rated G, on Disney+.

Johnny Tsunami


Johnny Kapahaala’s grandfather – Johnny Bartholomew Tsunamia – is a living legend known all over Hawaii for his incredibly surfing abilities. Young Johnny is keen to follow in his footsteps, but when his dad gets transferred, they move all the way to landlocked Vermont! Everyone there is far more interested in skiing and snowboarding than surfing... but wait a minute! Surfing and snowboarding are pretty similar, right? Maybe Vermont won’t be so bad after all! But unfortunately for Johnny, the skiers and snowboarders in this town just can’t seem to get along, and before he knows it, they must compete for who gets to be king of the mountain.

Stream Johnny Tsunami, rated TV-G, on Disney+.

Snow Day

Amazon Video

When a massive, unexpected blizzard hits a town in upstate New York, the students enjoy a magical snow day. Of course they all know that when the Snowplow Man comes through and clears all the roads it’ll be back to the classroom... but what if the plow couldn’t do its job? That’s what elementary schooler Natalie is trying to do! If everyone works together, it just might be enough to have another day of wintry fun, and give her big brother Hal the chance to win the heart of Claire, the most popular girl in school!

Stream Snow Day, rated PG, on HBO Max.

Cool Runnings


Jamaican sprinters Derice, Junior, and Yul are training for the most important race of their lives so far: the 100 meter dash that will qualify them for the 1988 Olympics. But when Junior stumbles, all three are knocked down... and out of the running.

The men are heartbroken, but see another way to the Olympics: Derice’s father knew an Olympic gold medal winner named Irving Blitzer, who can help them form a bobsled team. (OK, so it wasn’t their first choice event, but still...)

Aided by Blitzer and a fourth friend, pushcart derby champion Sanka, this unlikely crew heads to the games in Calgary, where their inexperience makes them targets of ridicule, but their determination win them the respect of the Olympic committee and their fellow athletes.

Stream Cool Runnings, rated PG, on Disney+.

The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe


As World War II rages, the Penvesie children – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy – are sent from their home in London to live with their uncle in the country. During a game of hide and seek, Lucy climbs inside an old wardrobe, only to discover that it leads to a magical, wintry land called Narnia. There she meets a faun named Tumnus, who explains that the world has been cursed by the White Witch to an eternal winter, and sends her back home.

But how can you stay away from a place with magic and fauns? And how do you not bring your siblings back (especially when they don’t believe you)? What ensues is a whimsical story of the powers of good and evil.

Stream Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, rated PG, on Disney+.

Eight Below

Eight Below takes place where it’s always winter: Antarctica.Disney+

In the frozen wasteland of Antarctica, Jerry Shepard, guide at an Antarctica research base of the National Science Foundation, his friend Cooper, and UCLA professor, Dr. Davis McClaren, are in search of a rare meteorite from Mercury. Determined to locate it despite unsafe conditions, the trio endure a devastating accident and are forced to leave their beloved sled dogs – lead dog Maya, Old Jack, Shorty, Dewey, Truman, Shadow, Buck, and Max – behind. Alone, the dogs struggle to survive the Antarctic winter. Despite the peril and harsh conditions, this movie explores bonds of friendship and loyalty.

Stream Eight Below, rated PG, on Disney+.

Snow Dogs

Ted Brooks loves his life as a celebrity dentist in Miami. He’s well known, wealthy, and living it up in the tropical city. But when he discovers that he is the only heir of Lucy Watkins, a woman who lived in the wilds of Alaska, his mother reveals that he is adopted and Lucy was his biological mother. So Ted travels to the snowy woods of Tolketna only to discover that his inheritance is seven Siberian Huskies! It’s a classic fish out of water story as Ted braves the elements and tries to discover the identity of his biological father.

Stream Snow Dogs, rated PG, on Disney+.

The Empire Strikes Back


The Death Star has been destroyed, but the Rebel Alliance cannot rest on the laurels. The rag-tag band of freedom fighters have been operating out of their secret base on the frozen planet of Hoth. While out on patrol, Luke Skywalker receives a vision from his deceased mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, urging him to go to the Dagobah system to train as a Jedi with Master Yoda. The vision comes only days before the Empire discovers their base and the entire force must flee.

While the movie does not take place entirely on Hoth, the scenes are incredibly memorable and will absolutely make you want to get cozy and curl up inside a dead tauntaun. Remember: “It may smell bad, kid, but it’ll keep you warm!”

Stream The Empire Strikes Back, rated PG, on Disney+.



Anya has aged out of the orphanage, and now she’s off to St. Petersburg to find her future (and also her past, since she has absolutely no memory of her life before the orphanage). There she stumbles into broken down Winter Palace of the now dead Romanov czars, where conmen Dmitri and Vlad believe they can pass Anya off as the long-missing-and-believed-dead Grand Duchess Anastasia to the girl’s desperate grandmother. But – what a twist! – she is Anastasia, and her re-entry into the world has awakened the soul of Rasputin, the evil wizard who cursed her family to begin with!

It’s a... let’s go with “generous” interpretation of the Russian Revolution, at least in terms of how it depicts the Romanovs, but for a movie this good we’ll let it slide.

Stream Anastasia, rated G, on Disney+.


Togo is based on a true story.Disney+

In 1913, Leonhard Seppala and his wife Constance welcome a newborn Siberian Husky puppy, Togo, to their sledding dog pack in Alaska, but are skeptical of how fit he is for the team: he’s small and too feisty to be dependable. After trying to get rid of the pup twice, the couple discovers this dog isn’t a pack dog at all: he’s a perfect lead dog. Over the years, Togo becomes a champion. When diphtheria breaks out among the town’s children, Togo and Seppala undergo an arduous journey to retrieve a cure. But at 12 years old, does Togo have it in him to be a champion once more?

Stream Togo, rated PG, on Disney+.

The Secret of the Wings

Tinker Bell discovers a long-lost sister... in the one place in Pixie Hollow she cannot go.Disney+

Each of the four corners of Pixie Hollow represent the four seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall, and lonely Winter. It’s lonely because winter fairies cannot endure the warmer temperatures in the other seasons and warm weather fairies wings will freeze in the snowwy landscape of winter. But when a force seems to be pulling Tinker Bell towards the ice and snow, well, she’s never been one not to give into curiosity. There she discovers Periwinkle — her long lost twin sister! But how can they be together? This is the perfect winter movie to leave everyone feeling cozy!

Stream The Secret of the Wings, rated G, on Disney+.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Amazon Video

Thomas Popper is a divorced real estate lawyer. When Popper’s globetrotting father dies, his inheritance is a souvenir from his dad’s last Antarctic adventure: penguins! Captain, Loudy, Bitey, Stinky, Lovey, and Nimrod wreak havoc on Popper’s posh apartment. While initially annoyed at this “gift,” Popper soon discovers that the feathered friends enable him to grow closer to his son, Billy (who thinks the penguins are his birthday gift), teenage daughter Janie, and ex-wife. But with the co-op board getting suspicious and the sale of his life hanging in the balance, will Popper be able to juggle it all?

Stream Mr. Popper’s Penguins, rated PG, on Amazon Prime.


Who can forget the adorable ice skating scene?Disney+

When Bambi is born, the forest hails their Young Prince, son of the Great King of the Forest, who has lived longer in the difficult wilderness than any deer alive. Bambi explores this world through seasons of change – growing up and learning his place in the world. Like other movies on this list, Bambi does not take place exclusively in the winter, but the winter scenes* are starkly beautiful and are sure to scratch that wintry itch.

*Except for that one notorious scene, you know the one don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Stream Bambi, rated G, on Disney+.

Stay warm, folks!

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