Christmas is swiftly approaching and so, lurching along before it, is our fourth annual list of holiday horror stories. Each tale included below is set during the holiday season, and if you find yourself in need for more, check out our previous lists by following the links below.



1. “The Ghost Detective” by Mark Lemon (1866) – In attempts to influence a skeptic that ghosts exist, a man relates a story of one which manifested to solve a case despite its host still being alive.

2. “Jerry Bundler” by W.W. Jacobs (1897) – A few nights before Christmas a group of travelers, relaxing in their lodging’s coffee room, share ghost stories with each other. After one about the ghost of a criminal named Jerry Bundler who haunts that very location is related, a sense of unease settles amongst them. One of the men bets he can scare them by impersonating the Bundler’s ghost even though they know he’s going to attempt to do so. This classic story has a tragic ending.

3. “The Festival” by H.P. Lovecraft (1925) – A man goes to Kingsport, Massachusetts during the Christmas season to celebrate a forbidden Yuletide festival his ancestors used to observe and which they insisted their descendants continue to honor each century. Once there he joins a strange assembly as they travel to carry out their pledge. As is usual with Lovecraft, this story is thick with the atmospheric dread of ancient evils that lurk in forgotten places.

4. “The Sinister Inn” by F.S. Smythe (1931) – Two men who are cross-country skiing in the French Alps are caught in a blizzard on Christmas Eve and are forced to seek shelter in a remote inn. The innkeeper and his wife act strangely and attempt to turn them away at first. The skiers soon realize a deadly menace is harbored under the same roof.

5. “The Demon King” by J.B. Priestley (1934) – A bizarre, extravagant rendition of a Christmas stage play is performed after the actor portraying the Demon King arrives at the last minute adorned in magnificent makeup and possessing amazing abilities.


6. “I Shall Take Proper Precautions” by George H. Bushnell (1945) – Shortly before leaving to travel home for Christmas Eve, a librarian comes across a strange book that doesn’t belong to the library. She recognizes its address as being near hers, so she decides to drop it off on her way. The house proves difficult to find, but when she does, she encounters more than she expects.

7. “The Stocking” by Nigel Kneale (1949) – After his father hangs a stocking from the ceiling for his son on the night before Christmas, the boy is paid an unwelcome visit.

8. “Back For Christmas” by John Collier (1951) – A doctor kills his wife just before leaving for a trip to America. He thinks he has everything under control, but something unexpected throws a wrench in his plans.

9. “Christmas Eve” by R. Chetwynd-Hayes (1975) – A middle-aged, single man who spends his days traveling from place to place meets a beautiful younger woman with psychic abilities. She tells him that he, like herself, is more than he realizes, and that she needs his help freeing a being trapped inside a bizarre, cocoon of flesh one Christmas Eve.

10. “The Uninvited” by John Glasby (1989) – A woman returns to her family’s house after having secretly killed and buried several of her relatives the previous Christmas in this ghoulish tale reminiscent of an EC comic-style story.

If you’re interested in reading a short Christmas horror story by me, I’ve had a couple featured in the anthologies listed below:
“Christmas Wine” in O LITTLE TOWN OF DEATHLHEM –

“Here He Comes A Wandering” in DEATHLEHEM REVISITED

Article by Matt Cowan


  1. I discovered Nigel Kneale through BBC TV’s Quatermass and the Pit. Excellent serial, starring Andre Morell and predating the (also excellent) Hammer film with Andrew Keir. I later found out how prolific he was.

    1. This is my first sampling of his work. It’s not bad but very short, even for a short story, so I’d need to read some more, or maybe watch one of his films to get a better feel for him.

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