Running of the Santas

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If you love Christmastime and a unique experience, look no further than the annual Yuletide event known as the Running of the Santas! Just imagine thousands of people eager to celebrate their love of the holidays and the jolly man in red, as they dash down the streets of Philadelphia dressed as Santa Claus.

So how did this winter tradition begin, you ask?

The story begins back in 1998 when two New Jersey guys — Matthew McDermott and Ryan Van Laeys — thought up the idea of creating a costumed winter festival, with the obvious theme choice being Santa Claus. Their idea sprung to life on December 23, 1998 when forty Santas gathered and pub crawled Main Street in Manayunk, a neighborhood in the northwestern section of Philadelphia. Little did they know the momentum and popularity that their holiday event would gain!

Running of the Santas Girls

Running of the Santas 2013

Despite moves to South Street in 2002 and it’s current home of Northern Liberties, the Running of the Santas had a record 3,000 Santas in 2006 and also expanded to Key West the same year. Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, Washington DC, Boston, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis all decided to join in the fun and host their own “Run” in 2007. Two years later the Electric Factory hosted the North Pole festival for the first time and the event has now become a worldwide phenomenon, with 20+ cities hosting in three different countries. An incredible 10,000 people donning red suits and white beards are expected to run through the streets of Philadelphia in 2014!

Running of the Santas Elves

Running of the Santas in Philly

What started as a simple pub crawl is now a day-long event, with three main components:

  • South Pole – the party begins at McFadden’s on 3rd Street, running from 9am to 4pm. Enjoy drink specials and everyone’s favorite, the Hottest Santa Contest.
  • Official Run – participants begin gathering in the street in front of McFadden’s, with the run commencing at 4pm.
  • North Pole – thousands of Santas run the few short blocks to the Electric Factory, known as the North Pole. The drink specials continue at the indoor/outdoor festival, which features live music from 10 bands. The North Pole party begins at 11am and stops when the beer is gone!

Running of the Santas in Philadelphia

Girls at Running of the Santas

Thousands of people dressed up like Santa, elves, Mrs. Claus and reindeer — combined with the revelry of live bands, drink specials, and a Hottest Santa Contest — is more than enough to get you in the holiday spirit, but the great thing about the Running of the Santas is that several local charities also benefit from the event. Now that’s the true spirit behind Christmas!

Running of the Santas - Mrs Claus

Running of the Santas People

Girls at Running of the Santas Philadelphia

Philadelphia's Running of the Santas

Running of the Santas Reindeer

Santas in Philadelphia

Running of the Santas Participants

Running of the Santas Costumes

Santas at the Electric Factory

Costumes at Running of the Santas

Have you ever been a participant in the Running of the Santas? Which costume is your favorite?


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