Fans of “The Great British Baking Show” (GBBO) can rejoice: right as season 13 comes to a close, viewers are gifted with another installment of “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays.” Though the episodes were already filmed and released in the U.K. at the tail end of 2021, they premiered on Netflix in the U.S. just in time to celebrate the beginning of this year’s holiday season.
“The Great British Baking Show: Holidays” comes in two perfect parts: First, “The Great Christmas Baking Show,” which features the cast of British drama “It’s a Sin.” Four of the show’s cast members — Olly Alexander, Lydia West, Shaun Dooley and Nathaniel Curtis — all take a step out of their comfort zone as they attempt to bake some Christmas classics and impress judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. Then follows “The Great Festive Baking Show,” which brings exceptional bakers from former seasons back into the tent for one final festive face-off. This holiday season’s returning bakers are season 9 finalist Kim-Joy, season 9 contestant Jon, season 11 star Rowan and season 11 pâtisserie queen Hermine. The episodes follow the classic “GBBO” format, with contestants completing three challenges — a signature bake, a technical challenge and a show-stopper — before one of the four is crowned the holiday baking champ.
Arguably the best part of this year’s (or rather, last year’s) “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays” is the reunion episode — despite the fact that, spoiler alert, the episode’s victory was the result of a highway robbery. The good-natured competition that’s always born from “The Great British Baking Show” is only amplified by the reuniting of old friends, making this episode even more merry and bright. With a low-stakes competition and experienced “GBBO” competitors, the vibe in the tent is much more relaxed, allowing the viewers to relax as well — a refreshing change from the culmination of the previous season. After season 13 brought on some changes to the normal flow of “GBBO”’s themed episodes that stirred up a little bit of well-deserved controversy (see: Mexican week), fans deserve the emotional reprieve that comes with this installment of “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays.”
Although these episodes took a while to make their way across the pond, they couldn’t have arrived at a better time. The smaller cast of bakers and familiar faces from seasons past create a feeling of coziness and intimacy in the tent, the perfect ambiance to boost the mood of viewers during this gloomy time of year. Though it’s not quite Christmas yet, the holiday cheer in the “GBBO” tent gives us a little glimmer of something to look forward to.
Daily Arts Writer Annabel Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.