Santacon is a non-proﬁt, non-political, non-religious and non-sensical Christmas parade that traditionally takes place in London one Saturday every December. There’s no particular reason to dress up in Santa suits, run around, give gifts, sing songs, have strangers sit on our laps and decide who is naughty or nice. But it’s a lot of fun so Santa does it anyway!
Santacon has no membership and no leader but it does have customs and traditions that Santa has written down for the benefit of other Santas. Check ‘em out below, Santa!
What actually happens on the day?
At a set time before midday, Santas assemble at three different meeting places in central London—exactly where and when is published on the front page only one week beforehand. The three groups of Santas each set off on a different route through London, spreading glad tidings, visiting famous landmarks, and enjoying the odd snifter along the way. Near the end the groups converge into one big festive parade of Santas. Santa flag-bearers lead the way and Santa herders keep Santas on track. Lost or late Santas can find out where Santas will be next by checking the Santanav Twitter feeds.
The two rules of Santacon
Santa’s always abided by the rules—deliver on 25th, land on roof, enter via chimney etc.—so here are the two big rules of Santacon, Santa:
- Christmas apparel is mandatory. A Santa hat is not enough. Buy a Santa suit. Make a Santa suit. Customise a Santa suit. Remember that reindeer and elves are welcome too. Be creative. Glue cotton balls to red long johns. Utilise Christmas decorations. If you don’t have any creativity, visit here to borrow some.
- Don’t be THAT Santa. Be Jolly! Be merry! Enjoy the surreal silliness of 1,000 Santas thronging the streets of London! But make sure your merriment doesn’t become another’s grief. Bad behaviour such as leaving litter and climbing on things is no way to spread goodwill and it gives Santacon a bad rep, which makes it harder to put it on again next year. So check yerself, Santa, and check other Santas. If you see one getting too rowdy, tell a Santa herder.
Santa’s Dos and Don’ts
The things below aren’t as important as the two big rules, Santa, but they are still jolly important:
Don’t throw sprouts. Legend has it this was a Santacon tradition, but it caused injuries and left a huge mess. Remember, don’t be THAT Santa!
Don’t get left behind. That must be impossible, right? Santa moves really slowly. And there are bloomin’ 1,000s of ‘em! And they’re all in red! Well actually it’s jolly easy to suddenly find that you’re the last five Santas singing carols in Oxford Street. So look out for Santa herders holding megaphones and flags and listen out for Santa’s rallying call…
Don’t panic if you do get lost or left behind. Use someone’s smart-phone to look up the next meeting point on the Santanav Twitter feed.
Do sort out your smart-phone/tablet/mini-tablet/blackberry/kindle/Commodore64 in advance so that you easily can look up said Santanav Twitter feed.
Do put on layers and dress for the cold. Santacon is mostly outdoors and although one might think that 1,000 fat, jolly St Nicks ought to be exothermic enough to necessitate only a pair of speedos, this sadly (or not) isn’t the case. Put on layers and dress for the cold. Air temperatures at previous Santacons have dipped below zero.
Do look after your feet. Slack reindeer and cuts to the National Elf Service mean that Santa has a fair amount of walking to do on the day. Wear sensible footwear and maybe bring plasters if your Santa boots haven’t broken in.
Do keep Santa fed and watered. Ensure Santa’s belly is lined with a good breakfast, and bring snacks and water for the day. There are plenty of opportunities to visit shops but don’t shop too long and get left behind. Tesco Express staff aren’t as fun as Santa.
Do print off a carol sheet from here or learn them all by heart. Singing is part of Santacon.
Do spread goodwill. Bring badges to stick on passers by and give out gifts: naughty gifts for grown ups, like coal and brussels sprouts, and nice gifts for children, like sweets. Big signs with fun, festive slogans will make you popular with tourists. Hand out hug vouchers—people love to hug Santa—and of course bring mistletoe!
Do be sensible about alcohol. Babysitting Santa while they vomit in an alley just isn’t Christmas. Don’t be THAT Santa! Be responsible for yourself and watch your fellow Santae. Also be sensitive about drinking in public places. If you bring your own drink, do not litter, and bear in mind that some establishments might not let you in, meaning you’ll have to stand outside with the other 450 Santa who did the same thing.
Maybe bring children and pets. All are invited to Santacon, including children, pets and even elves, but be aware some Santas will be drinking, and pub stops will be en route. Pets are a terrible idea unless you’re confident they can handle a crowd of Santas that all look like you. If you bring reindeer, it’s your responsibility to obtain the necessary flight permissions from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.