Brace yourselves: SantaCon is returning to NYC this Saturday. Here’s what to expect

SantaCon will kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9.
SantaCon will kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9.
Photo courtesy of SantaCon

SantaCon — the seasonal cause of, and solution to, all of New York’s problems, as Homer Simpson might say — is coming back to town this weekend in all its booziness.

The annual pub crawl, traditionally featuring thousands of intoxicated people dressed like Santa Claus galavanting through Manhattan, is slated to kick off on Saturday. For some, SantaCon is a boozy joy to young revelers; for many jaded New Yorkers, however, SantaCon is loathed for the many quality-of-life problems related to public drunkenness that the festival often brings to the fore

Whether you love the annual festivities, or you’re hellbent on avoiding the parade of drunken Santas, here’s all you need to know about this year’s SantaCon.

What is SantaCon?

SantaCon is an annual bar crawl where thousands of festively dressed revelers make their way through the streets of Manhattan, beginning in Midtown before heading down to the East Village. 

Participants, who don costumes of Santa, elves, and reindeer, are encouraged to donate $15 on the event’s website, which will go to various charitable causes. Donations guarantee free entry into participating venues.  

Each year (aside from during the COVID-19 pandemic), the event draws around 30,000 participants.

When does it start?

SantaCon 2013
“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, we’re telling you why.” SantaCon is coming to town this Saturday.Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Mack Male

SantaCon will kick off on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 10 a.m.

Participants are not held to a rigorous schedule of when to attend each bar, so many partiers join late.

Which bars are participating? 

Event organizers have created a map of over 50 bars that have signed up to host the flock of intoxicated partiers, who will begin their crusade at one of three watering holes in Times Square — Pink Taco, Yard House, and Margaritaville

Participants can head to @SantaCon on Twitter/X for updates on participating locations. 

Are there rules for SantaCon?

Yes, there are, so pay attention. 

The event’s organizers list several rules on their website in an attempt to moderate the bad behavior of some party-goers, namely “Don’t mess with kids, cops, bar staff, the charity mission or simply, the city of New York. Just be nice to people and clean up after yourselves — no puking on the street.”

Meanwhile, as many SantaCon attendees travel from outside of the city for the festivities, the MTA has announced a ban on alcohol consumption aboard Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road trains on the day of the event. The MTA’s ban begins at 4 a.m. on Dec. 9, and lasts through noon on Dec. 10. 

Visitors will see an increased presence of MTA police officers at transit hubs like Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal — with authorities instructed to confiscate alcoholic beverages and issue summonses. Violators may also be subject to removal from trains or stations by police, according to the MTA.

How to avoid SantaCon

If you’re looking to avoid getting caught up in the event, you should avoid the area between Midtown and the East Village during the day on Saturday.