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Barry Manilow says tonight’s holiday special ‘A Very Barry Christmas’ is “full of joy”

Jocelyn Prescod/NBC

Barry Manilow will celebrate the holiday season December 11 with A Very Barry Christmas, airing at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.  It’s based on a holiday production he’s been doing for a while, mostly during residency at the Westgate Las Vegas, where the special was filmed.

“It’s a great, great hour,” Manilow tells ABC Audio. “It’s full of joy, full of Christmas, and I do a lot of the hits. I figured out a way of putting the hits into the Christmas special, and it always still feels like a Christmas special, even though I’m singing ‘Copacabana!'”

But while you can expect to hear Manilow sing favorites like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and his new version of Mariah Carey‘s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on the special, songs like “Oh Holy Night” or “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” won’t be on the menu.

“For me, Christmas is not about the religious songs,” says Manilow. “It’s about the pop songs that we all know and we’ve heard all of our lives. And because it’s only happens for one month, they never get tired, y’know? And so when Bing Crosby comes out singing ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,’ it always feels new and it always feels good.”

But while there’ll be plenty of Christmas fun on the special, Manilow says he and his husband don’t really celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah.

“I’m always on the road … I’ve never really been able to do that,” he explains. “Gary and I put up a big Christmas tree … but we’re not here most of the time. We finally get back right before Christmas weekend, and the last thing I want to do is to have a bunch of people around! So, we don’t really celebrate it the way other people do.”

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