The Best Virtual Fireplaces on TV and Online, Ranked

Whether you’ve downsized to a condo or simply prefer central heating, fireplace channels have become a quick fix for the chimney-challenged. Here are five of the best options this holiday.

A cozy fire is an essential part of the holidays (where else would the chestnuts roast in “The Christmas Song”?), but for all their festive ambiance, fireplaces can be fussy things. There’s the splitting of wood to think of, not to mention all of that ash and soot to sweep up (or at the very least, a hefty gas bill at the end of the holiday season).

That’s where virtual fireplaces come in. Simply press play on your nearest tablet, TV or heck, even your phone, and you can instantly bask in glow of roaring fire. It’s the perfect solution for any high rise condo or otherwise hearth-less home, and cranks up the festive flair with the click of a button.

The Origins of the Virtual Fireplace

Although it may seem like a modern-day innovation, the very first virtual fireplace dates back to 1966. Channel 11 (WPIX) in New York City wanted to produce a special Christmas program for viewers, so they went to the mayor’s home and filmed the fiercely crackling fireplace. A mere 17-seconds of footage was looped into three hours of classic TV that debuted on December 24, 1966, as “The Yule Log.” (If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can still enjoy this cinematic masterpiece on YouTube.)

The Yule Log inspired many imitations over the years, but the virtual fireplace really took off when streaming services arrived on the scene, allowing fans to have 24-hour access to these roaring delights. With so many virtual fireplaces available, we’ve rounded up five of the very best to make your holiday a little brighter.

Fireplace For Your Home on Netflix Canada

If you have a Netflix Canada subscription, then you have several glowing options. The original Fireplace For Your Home has three episodes—one fireplace set to holiday tunes, one a simple crackling hearth and a third accompanied by classical music. Then you have the Fireplace For Your Home: Classic Edition which features a truly roaring fire that provides the perfect white noise while you work (in fact, it provided much of the soundtrack to the writing of this very story). For the truly style-savvy, Netflix also offers the Birchwood Edition, which trades in standard firewood for chic black-and-white birch logs. All episodes are in 4K and one hour long. (Check out the best Christmas movies on Netflix right now.)

The Yule Log on CTV

Unlike most of the virtual fireplaces on our list, the one-hour Yule Log from CTV has an actual beginning: a man reaches into a darkened fireplace to light the kindling, which gradually (and oh-so satisfyingly) takes off into a blazing yule. Fans of the Birchwood Edition on Netflix may take issue with the logs here, which appear to be the leftovers from a weekend DIY project. On the upside, it’s free—and full of cheer!

Fire Log on Shaw TV

Do you like your fireplace with a side of mystery? The charming Shaw Fire Log (Shaw Channel 298 or the BlueCurve TV app) has been a staple since the 1980s, but inquiring minds want to know the identity of the man tending the crackling fire. All Shaw will reveal about the poker-wielding figure is that he’s got a penchant for flannel and smells of wood smoke. Follow every crackle from this fire log (and more from the man in flannel) on a designated Twitter account.

Fireplace on Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime subscribers who have opted into the Stingray All Good Vibes bundle can transport fireplaces from across Canada into their living rooms this holiday. Choose from a dozen different vignettes, including a charming stone fireplace from the Laurentians, and a blazing hearth from Banff—with accompanying carols.

The Best Burning Fireplace on YouTube

YouTube is full of virtual fireplace videos, but this one is (as its title claims) the best. It’s in super-sharp 4K definition, runs for 10 hours and is totally free. The blackened brick backdrop gives you the nostalgic, old-timey vibes you’re craving on chilly December days, and pairs beautifully with coffee and Baileys.

Next, check out the best places to spend Christmas in Canada.

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