How to get unlimited free holiday music on your phone or tablet

Enjoy the season's best tunes in private or on your favorite speaker dock.

Slacker offers a great selection of holiday-themed stations.
Slacker offers a great selection of holiday-themed stations. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Warm fire, check. Good company and good cheer, check. Now all you need is some good holiday music, which you can get in virtually unlimited quantities on your smartphone or tablet. And it won't cost you anything extra.

With the exception of iTunes Radio, which is available only for iOS devices, most of the services listed below are available for most mobile platforms.

iTunes Radio

Surprisingly, Apple's new streaming service has only one holiday-themed Featured Station, at least for the moment: the very good Rockin' Holiday. And if you search for "holidays," you get only a weird selection that includes, for some reason, comedian Jim Gaffigan. Search for "Christmas," though, and you'll find the Christmas Music Radio station, which offers a nice mix of classical tunes.

Pandora

As any Pandora user knows, it's a snap to create a new station of Christmas or holiday tunes. However, when you start the process, you can also tap Browse Genre Stations, then scroll down to Holiday. There you'll find a wealth of stations already ready to go, including one for those of us who celebrate Hanukkah.

Pandora's extensive holiday selection includes a Hanukkah station.
Pandora's extensive holiday selection includes a Hanukkah station. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Slacker

Slacker has been around nearly as long as Pandora, but it's often overlooked as a source for free streaming music. Now's your chance to discover what's so great about it: browse the Stations listing and you'll find nearly a dozen devoted entirely to Christmas tunes. These range from New Holiday Hits to Jazz Christmas to Yuletide Classics.

Songza

An app that specializes in slinging tunes based on specific moods and activities, Songza has plenty of holiday-themed stations available, starting with half a dozen main categories: A Christmas Concert Spectacular, Too Cool for Yule, Cozy Christmas Hits, and so on. This is arguably the single best app for finding exactly the kind of holiday music you want to hear.

TuneIn Radio

The popular Internet-radio app can connect you to a variety of Christmas-themed stations. Just tap Browse, then scroll down to the Christmas category. You'll see upwards of 20 stations, a good choice being Christmas 365 -- Santa's Radio.

By the way, if you don't have a smartphone or tablet but still want an ample helping of free holiday tunes, check out Ed Rhee's roundup of online holiday-music options .

Have you found another great app or service for streaming holiday tunes on the cheap? Talk it up in the comments!

 

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