20 Ghost and Horror Stories for Christmas

To celebrate the tradition of Christmas ghost stories, here are 20 ghost and horror stories to sink your teeth into this holiday season. Some you can read, others you can listen to, but best of all, they’re available free-of-charge. So, venture forth, if you dare…

1. ""Ofodile"" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Taken from The Guardian’s 2013 Christmas Ghost Stories series, "Ofodile" is the first story I’ve read by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and now I’m hungry for more. From the opening line you’ll find yourself hooked and guessing as to what’s really going on. Just as you think you know what the story’s about, another detail’s revealed—a master class in suspense and dramatic tension that you’ll want to read all over again as soon as you’re done.       

Read "Ofodile" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

2. ""The Kit Bag"" by Algernon Blackwood

Algernon Blackwood’s "The Kit Bag" takes part during the Christmas holiday. Our hero, Johnson, is a law clerk, whose employer has recently cleared a man of murder. Johnson, pleased that the trial is over, is going on holiday to the Alps. He asks his boss to lend him a kit bag. When the titular kit bag arrives…well, I’m sure you can guess where we’re heading… 

Read "The Kit Bag" by Algernon Blackwood

Listen to "The Kit Bag" by Algernon Blackwood

3. ""Smee"" by A.M. Burrage

All you need to know is that it’s Christmas Eve and a group of friends are gathered in a house to play a game of "Smee" (basically "hide and seek"). The thing is, this house has a history, and there may be an uninvited participant joining in the fun… 

Read "Smee" by A.M. Burrage

Listen to "Smee" by A.M. Burrage (unabridged)

Listen to "Smee" by A.M. Burrage (audio adaptation)

4. ""Christmas Reunion"" by Sir Andrew Caldecott

Taken from Caldecott’s Not Exactly Ghosts and inspired by M.R. James, "Christmas Reunion" sees an annoying man’s Christmas celebrations cut short when he receives a strange telegram and leaves the festive celebrations early to the disappointment of absolutely no one. What plays out has echoes of L.P. Hartley’s "A Visitor from Down Under."

Read "Christmas Reunion" by Sir Andrew Caldecott

5. ""Christmas Present"" by Ramsey Campbell

A Christmas tale from Britain’s most respected living horror writer, Ramsey Campbell, on quite possibly the greatest horror fiction podcast, Pseudopod.

Listen to "Christmas Present" by Ramsey Campbell

6. ""A Christmas Eve Visitor"" by Kev Harrison

To prove that this list includes contemporary tales as well as classics, here’s a Christmas story that was released just last week(!). It’s on one of my favourite audio podcasts, The Other Stories, and is an unpleasant little yarn concerning a burglar who gets more than he bargained for.

"Listen to A Christmas Eve Visitor" by Kev Harrison

(Shameless plug: you should totally subscribe to Hawk & Cleaver's The Other Stories because my story "Last Christmas" just went live, and I’d love for you to hear it.)

7. ""The Christmas Spirits"" by Grady Hendrix

Want to hear a story so outrageous and funny that the narrator keeps almost laughing? If so, this weird little tale, full of blood, gore, and, um, Nazi references, may be for you.

Listen to "The Christmas Spirits" by Grady Hendrix

 8. ""Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad"" by M.R. James

It doesn’t seem right to compile a list of Christmas ghost stories without mention of M.R. James, though perhaps the hardest task was choosing which of his many stories to include. "Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad" tells the tale of a holidaying professor. He finds an old whistle with a Latin inscription he cannot decipher (this should have been a red flag) and decides to blow it anyway. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? He finds out.

Read "Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad" by M.R. James

Listen to "Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad" by M.R. James

9. ""The Pit and the Pendulum"" by Edgar Allan Poe

Now granted, Edgar Allan Poe’s study of terror with no supernatural elements doesn’t exactly fit the remit of "Christmas" or "ghost" story. But here’s the thing, it was first published in The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1843, which is how it made the list. That and it’s a damn good story.

Read "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allan Poe

10. ""Repossession"" by Lionel Shriver

How about a tale from Lionel Shriver, the author of We Need To Talk About Kevin? Helen Rutledge has found the perfect house, but the house doesn’t want her… 

Read "Repossession" by Lionel Shriver

More Christmas Stories

Seeing as it’s the season for giving, here are another ten festive-themed stories to enjoy.

11. "Light And Space" by Ned Beauman (text)

12. "Between the Lights" by E.F. Benson (text)

13. "At Chrighton Abbey" by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (text)

14. "The Story of the Goblin who Stole a Sexton" by Charles Dickens (text)

15. "Was it an illusion?" by Amelia B. Edwards (text)

16. "Christmas is Coming" by Gina L. Grandi (text)

17. "Stairs" by Penelope Lively (text)

18. "A Strange Christmas Game" by J.H. Riddell (audio)

19. "Red Christmas" by Lavie Tidhar (text)

20. "Dark Christmas" by Jeanette Winterson (text)

Over to you. What are your favourite Christmas horror and ghost stories? How about movies? See you in the comments. 

Michael David Wilson

Column by Michael David Wilson

Michael David Wilson is the founder of the popular UK horror website, podcast, and publisher, This Is Horror. Michael is the author of the novella, The Girl in the Video, and the novel, They’re Watching, co-written with Bob Pastorella. His second novella, House of Bad Memories, lands in 2021 via Grindhouse Press. His work has appeared in various publications including The NoSleep PodcastDim ShoresDark Moon DigestLitReactorHawk & Cleaver’s The Other Stories, and Scream. You can connect with Michael on Twitter @WilsonTheWriter. For more information visit www.michaeldavidwilson.co.uk.

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AntonBlick's picture
AntonBlick December 18, 2018 - 12:53pm

The Visitation by Kealan Patrick Burke from his collection Dead of Winter, which is in itself a collection of seasonal themed stories.