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Travel Tips

Enjoy Christmas in San Francisco As Santa

As the classic Christmas carol goes, “SantaCon is coming to town!” Okay, maybe those aren’t the actual lyrics, but each year, hundreds of Santas gather for a holly jolly pub crawl around the city of San Francisco. With the annual celebration in its 21st year, SantaCon, or Santarchy, is a fun event to propel the citizens of the Bay Area into the holiday spirit, and to top it off, you can attend the gathering of Santas for free.

In 1994, the Cacophony Society, a group of individuals who create experiences ranging from pranks around San Francisco to what they call “meaningless madness,” organized a day of fun in Santa suits, and thus, the first SantaCon was born.

From then on, SantaCon kept growing, and now it’s all over from China to Australia, with the U.S. leading the pack, hosting more SantaCon events than anywhere else in the world.

SantaCon is a gathering of Santas used to spread holiday cheer to others. For you as Santa, it means living up to his jolly persona. Be nice to others; watch out for other Santas; and most of all, spread happiness for the holidays.

Many people lose touch of the real purpose of SantaCon. If you can’t handle being nice and happy to others, consider staying home.

But otherwise, show up to Union Square in mid December for a good time. And as a rule of thumb, don’t just wear a Santa hat. If you choose to attend the event, only a full Santa suit will suffice in the eyes of Santa. You can find your getup on Market Street for less than $20.

Location of San Francisco’s SantaCon

Other SantaCon Guidelines

  • Come dressed as Santa. The theme is RED and is open to interpretation — Rudolph, can you hear us?
  • The crowds gather in Union Square at noon, but spread quickly to other neighborhoods, almost as fast as Santa around the world on Christmas Eve.
  • Refer to others as Santa. If they aren’t Santa, why are they dressed like him?
  • Nobody likes a bad Santa. If you act like a Grinch, just go away.
  • Be kind to people. A positive attitude will go along way, especially with your bartenders.
  • Tip your bartenders. Nobody likes a cheap Santa. It’s the holidays too — hook ’em up for putting up with your Santa ass.
  • Pay with cash. Your bartender will thank you.
  • The lines are long. Thousands of Santas are in town! You might need to wait for a drink or two.
  • Be ready to move. At any moment you and your fellow Santas can go mobile. Exploration is one of the best parts of the day, anyway.
  • Handle your liquor. A drunk Santa is not a jolly Santa; be able to handle yourself.

Have Fun and Happy Holidays!