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The Ultimate Christmas Road Trip Playlist

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

It’s December, right.

We can therefore no longer ignore the spectre of the festive season. The season of hope and goodwill to all men and women.

But because this is (purportedly) an automotive-heavy blog, then there’s got to be a car angle in this unofficial Christmas post. Otherwise Trading Standards will be on our case.

So, we thought long and hard about a Yuletide spin and arrived at (the somewhat predictable) driving home for Christmas.

Largely thanks to most of us actively engaging in it, and therefore qualified to talk about it.

Not going ‘home’ home, obviously. Because however much you dress it up and liberally drape it in tinsel, that’s just your daily commute, mate.

You’re Referring To The Chris Rea Song, Aren’t You?

Well, yes and no, actually.

Yes, we’ve been influenced by the Chris Rea-spec drive home for Christmas. And no, we’re not going to cite it in this tenuous countdown-of-sorts.

But you KNOW the one.

It typically tends to centre on us visiting our parents - or other loved ones - who habitually reside a little more distant. And which annual travels necessitate a bit of forward planning and ambitious logistics, which can often be thwarted by inclement weather.

Although not on the scale of Planes, Trains and Automobiles (which we know, isn't a Christmas movie (nor novelty record). More a Thanksgiving one. But the association works fine here, OK).

Unless that is you live a really long way away from those folk you voluntarily choose to spend the Christmas holidays with.

Or you’re Steve Martin.

I’m Categorically NOT Steve Martin

If you’re not relying on the public transport system to help you get where you want to go in the run-up to this Christmas (and God help you if you are), then the chances are your journeying will be accompanied by a soundtrack.

Depending on the head count in your car.

If you’re travelling with a horde of kids, the likelihood is that any losing yourself in instantly familiar Christmas hits will be stopped in its tracks. Drop to the power of two, or preferably the single human unit, and you can bask gloriously in the radiant glow of uninterrupted and wall-to-wall Christmas singalongs.

Albeit with yourself. 

Plus, if you know where you’re headed there’s no need for your vehicle’s otherwise intrusive sat-nav to be chirping up every few seconds either.

Is This Really The Ultimate Christmas Road Trip Playlist?

Which is why we’ve compiled what we believe to be the Ultimate Christmas Road Trip Playlist.

True. Pretty much every other motoring website religiously lays claim to the exact same sort of brazen statement/compilation in the weeks leading up to the big festive getaway.

Only ours is the definitive selection box, obviously. And it’s ours that you’re reading here and now.

Anyway, our non-countdown countdown is non-negotiable for the simple reason we’ve said it is. And the fact it comprises arguably the best Christmas driving tunes ever.

At least in the opinion of the author and (the opinionated) author alone.

And do you know what the best part is, irrespective of your personal persuasions. That being Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ is omitted on the grounds of taste and decency.

Despite, conversely being the inspiration for this blog as we alluded to earlier.

Any Other Christmas ‘Classics’ Missing On The Ultimate Christmas Road Trip Playlist?...

Since you mention it, yes.

Also conspicuous by their collective absence is any seasonal offering by Cliff Richard, Mr Blobby, New Kids on The Block’s ‘Funky, Funky Xmas’, and Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘Back Door Santa’.

You're welcome. 

So Here It Is. The Ultimate Christmas Road Trip Playlist

In no particular order of preference….

The Darkness - ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’

If you like driving to the soundtrack of electric guitar-driven 70’s glam rock (only fast forwarded to 2003) with Yuletide symphonics and falsetto note-hitting East Anglian vocals, then look/listen no further than Lowestoft’s biggest musical export. Bolan with bells and seasonal spandex, this epic Christmas choon makes for the perfect driving partner when spiritedly circumnavigating blighty’s tarmac arteries in the run-up to the big day.

Blink 182 - ‘I Won’t Be Home For Christmas’

The actual antithesis of the trad Christmas track in all its untamed gory. A resolute two-fingered salute to all that’s cloyingly cottage cheesy about Christingle. With razor-sharp lyrics based on very real/raw emotions we can all relate to. Irritating whiny voices, dead smiles on your face and having to be nice to people you hate all year, being just a few of the lyrical highlights amid this jaunty antidote for festive cheer. But perhaps more shockingly this isn’t the most anti-Christmas track that Blink ever released. There is another which we can’t even bring ourselves to namecheck, because then you’ll go read the lyrics which contain a lot of very bad words and mental imagery. Which is about as far removed from Cliff Richards’ ‘Saviours Day’ as is possible to be. Unfortunately Google exists for the rest, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

The Pretenders - ‘2000 Miles’

Included here purely on the basis it references mileage. Approximately 2000 give-or-take in Chrissy Hynde’s case. Which could well be the accumulative miles your car’s odometer might be digitally displaying once all the Christmas driving is over for another year. Not to be confused of course, with fellow band starting with the letter ‘P’; The Proclaimers. And their 1988 anthem, ‘I’m Gonna Be Open Brackets 500 Miles Close Brackets’. Which has Jack Frost to do with Christmas.


Wham! - ‘Last Christmas’

Not only is it the best Christmas record in the history of Christmas records (be warned; if you argue the toss with us over this, we WILL fight you), but it also depicts both a Jeep Wrangler AND an original Jeep Cherokee driven in their natural environment. As fabled Messrs Michael and Ridgely approach their ski cabin bolthole with cohorts, Pepsi and Shirley in close proximity. A couple of decades later and boyband A1 tried to recreate the vibe with snow and a Series 1 Land-Rover, but failed to capture Wham!s previous high. Exchanging bouffant mullets for late 90’s curtains not helping their cause.

David Essex - ‘A Winter’s Tale’

Criminally, very few (technically, none) cars feature in this video, largely because it’s set in a remote part of a baron Dartmoor landscape in the depths of a bleak midwinter. Hence the title. However, if you’re a fan of sheds, Border Collie’s and canal boat chic, then you’d love the video to this seasonal ditty from Britain’s answer to Donny Osmond. Just don’t well up when you’re driving along to it in your car this December, as depending on the in-car temp there’s always the risk of ice forming on your cheeks. 

East 17 - ‘Stay Another Day’

Resisting the urge to mention Brian Harvey’s scrape with parked cars and baked potatoes, instead we’re dwelling on the facts. The inescapable facts being that these white parka-clad raggamuffins blew everyone’s minds when out of nowhere back in 1994 they released this tender Xmas ballad. Which was fluffier than a reindeer’s bobbed tail. And immediately restored our faith in the engineering of emotive Christmas tunes barely 12 months after the soul-crushing low we experienced at the hands of inflatable irritant Mr Blobby and his unforgivable and eponymously-titled Chrimbo chart-topper.

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl - ‘Fairytale of New York’

This bolshy, raucous Christmas staple is the ideal driving song if you’re wanting to put yourself in the mood for impending family histrionics as you gather around the tree. As duets go, arguably not the most romantic ever penned, yet the late Shane MacGowan created an absolute Christmas cracker which can be belted out as much behind the wheel of your car as it would be on the other side of a bar. 

Elmo and Patsy - ‘Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer’

Now, before we’re accused of making Christmas very dark, trust us. This lesser-heard tale from the late 1970’s has a very happy ending, as the titular Grandma makes a jubilant and seemingly healthy return via the chimney before the music video’s final credits roll. Along with some sage advice about never giving a license to a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves. Wise words indeed, from Grandma there.

Wizzard - ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’

Let’s clear one thing up before we go any further here. And that is, we don’t. Wish it could be Christmas every day, that is. Imagine just how quickly it would become tiresome and the magic dust would dissipate. The fact Christmas habitually comes once a year ensures that it’s a special time. Otherwise Christmas would just be like every other day. Potentially tedious and instantly forgettable. And with the chance of snow diminishing rapidly once you got towards May. 

Shakin apostrophe Stevens - ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’

There’s a lot of sleigh action (although fairly pedestrian in terms of speed) heartwarmingly coupled with some genuinely horrific Christmas knitwear in the accompanying video to Michael Barratt’s seasonally snowy delight. Yet the enduring Cardiff rocker’s sole seasonal gift is perky and provides the right BPM so as not to find yourself driving too enthusiastically in the more challenging road conditions. Yet feeling as euphoric as you would when you enjoy a goblet of cooking sherry or mulled wine.

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