SantaCon NYC: How to avoid the annual holiday bar crawl

For some, SantaCon is a festive way for revelers to enjoy the holiday season. For others, it's hell on earth.

The annual bar crawl kicks off on Dec. 9 at 10 a.m. in Manhattan, bringing with it a sea of too-drunk Santa impersonators who have made the trek from Long Island and New Jersey to wreak joyous havoc on the city's streets.

For many locals, this event is a time to stay inside -- running into a crowd of rosy-cheeked (read: intoxicated) Santas on your walk to grab a bagel and coffee in the morning can be a less-than-enjoyable experience. Though all in good fun, day drinking isn’t for everyone.

For those grinches looking to avoid the pub crawl, take these notes and hopefully there won't be a Santa in sight.

The official route mainly encompasses bars in midtown, but there are a few Santa-friendly spots in Gramercy and the East Village as well. For a full list of bars to avoid, head to SantaCon’s website.

Get your coffee earlier than usual

SantaCon starts at 10 a.m., which means your local coffee shop and bagel place may be packed with pre-gaming bar crawlers. If you need to head out for some weekend caffeine, try to hit up your go-to java spot as early as possible to avoid any Santas waiting in line for their cup of joe, especially near midtown where kickoff traditionally happens.

Avoid midtown and the East Village at all costs

Though Santas will be joining the festivities from all over the city, official bar routes in the past have included locations in Williamsburg, the East Village and Lower East Side. For 2017, it will start in the Gramercy/East Village area before heading north into midtown, but Santas can drift between each neighborhood as they please. So, if your typical neighborhood haunts are in one of these locations, you might want to take the opportunity to explore a new part of the city.

Don't even think about taking the subway

It turns out that Santas take public transportation, too. If you really don't want to run into any of them, the subway isn't the way to go -- they will be filled with rowdy Santas en route to their next watering hole. Take this as an opportunity to treat yourself to a taxi ride.


Don’t hit the bars until after dinner

The bar crawl lasts through 5 p.m. but there will be stragglers throughout the evening, so wait until about 8 or 9 to go out for a Santa-free drink.

Look for bars that ban SantaCon

Not every bar is keen on SantaCon, and some ban red-and-white clothed revelers outright. Look for anti-SantaCon signs, or simply call your neighborhood spot to see if Santas will be spreading cheer inside its doors before you head out.

Seamless is your friend

If you're really looking to avoid SantaCon at all costs, you may just want to stay inside your apartment all day, especially if you live along the bar crawl route. Instead of heading out to grab pizza, use Seamless, Grubhub or another delivery service to get all your food needs on Dec. 9. You'll thank the internet gods.