It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and we’re getting into the festive spirit here at TechRadar! The big news is that St Nick has now departed on his trip around the globe, and we’re tracking his journey live all the way.

Santa started at the International Date Line and his trip will take him through the South Pacific, then across to New Zealand and Australia, followed by Asia, Africa, Europe, North Amerca and lastly Central and South America. We’ll be following all of his movements using the two most popular trackers, NORAD and Google, and will be bringing you live updates throughout the day.

In keeping with the ‘AI everywhere’ theme of 2023, we’ve also asked Midjourney to create some images of the big man himself as he travels around the world celebrating various regional traditions. They’re only slightly cursed. 

Fun fact: Santa tracking as a tradition is almost 70 years old, but it all started as a happy accident in Christmas 1955. Legend has it a Sears catalog accidentally printed the Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center’s phone number instead of a Santa hotline in Christmas 1955 and began to receive calls from children hoping to speak to Klaus himself.

The tradition of watching where Santa crosses the globe began in 1955 when, legend has it, a child mistakenly called Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center after a misprint in a Sears catalog for a number to call to speak to Santa.

The American military realized this was a PR dream, and began putting out press releases on the whereabouts of Santa each year, with comical stories added in too, with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) taking over. In the early 1980s, a hotline was added to let people call to find out where he is.

Fast forward to today and there are a number of ways to find out what’s happening to Santa – with Google’s Santa Tracker joining the party in 2004 – and these two are the key ones to look out for in our expert opinion.

Santa Tracker: Norad vs Google

You’ve got two main choices when it comes to tracking Santa – both offer different ways of following along, but it depends on the experience you’re looking for.

Norad Santa Tracker

Norad Santa tracker

(Image credit: Future)

The original way of following Santa and, some would say, the best. This website, run by the US military, fuses gruff colonels presenting a video about Santa Claus with live, up-to-the-minute info on where the man in the big red suit is.

You can download the app on the App Store or Google Play Store, and from there you’ll be presented with a number of mini games to play as well as being able to follow the progress of the present giving live.

It’s a far more rudimentary experience than other trackers out there, lacking a lot of polish and website design.

However, it’s also the most popular and has a heartwarming history behind it – as well as an army of volunteers ready to take your call to find out where Santa is.

NORAD has also added in an AI chatbot called Radar to help you spot Santa too, but if you can be bothered, then dialling +1 (877) HI-NORAD will do the trick too.

Google Santa Tracker

How to play the Santa games on mobile

SAnta tracker

(Image credit: Google)

Every year, when we publish this guide, we have people wondering how to play the games on mobile as the big ‘PLAY!’ button in the middle of the screen sometimes fails and will only ever give you random games or video anyway. Well, just go to the Santa Tracker site on a mobile browser, click the three lines in the top left-hand corner and see all the games to play. (Note – the ‘install’ option, which tells you to ‘Add to Home Screen’, doesn’t work on iPhones).

A more recent addition to the Santa tracking mix, Google’s Santa Tracker has been going since 2004, combining the power of Google Maps with the savvy knowledge of where Father Christmas is.

While Google doesn’t have the same satellite tracking power as NORAD, one has to assume the search giant has struck a deal with the North Pole to figure out where he is in real-time using search and radar and lasers and… stuff. Don’t ask us to interpret the magic.

Backing up the Santa Tracker is a whole host of minigames to play, as well as a month-long website encouraging children to learn to code while they encounter a winter wonderland.

There are some pro-Google tools moments in this Santa Tracker – the Quick Draw game is designed to teach Google’s image recognition Tensor to improve, which feels a bit odd – but it’s a wonderfully designed site and arguably the most visually accessible way to follow Santa.

You can download the app from the Google Play Store, but in our eyes the mobile site is just as good and accessible for iPhone users, plus Google’s Santa Tracker has the best and easiest-to-use desktop experience, too.

Welcome, everyone, to this year’s Santa Tracker! There’s still some time before Santa takes off, so if you haven’t set up Santa’s special thank-you gift yet, now’s the perfect time. Here in the UK, we leave carrots for Santa’s reindeer, and the man himself receives a mince pie and sometimes even some kind of alcoholic tipple like sherry or brandy (or Guinness, in some Irish households!).

Down under in Australia, Santa gets a nice cold beer to help him beat the heat, whereas Danish families leave out a bowl of rice pudding with cinnamon called Risengrod for the elves. In the US, Santa gets milk and cookies, and Argentina sees the reindeer rejuvenated with hay and water.

Santa and his elves with an iPad in the North Pole

(Image credit: Midjourney / Future)

We’ve just got off the phone with Santa, and he’s surprisingly calm for someone who’s about to undertake the single greatest gift-giving mission known to man; unless of course, you count that time Apple gifted everyone Songs of Innocence by U2. What a weird day that was.

Anyway, Santa mentioned something pretty neat if you’re into Christmas trivia. Nearly 100 years ago in 1927, Santa got his official pilot’s license from the US government. Both he and Mrs. Claus were even granted Canadian passports back in 2013, too, courtesy of Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

Now, we all know how it can get when it comes to watching TV at Christmas time, and if you’re looking to keep the peace, I’d strongly recommend checking out our picks of the 7 best movies and TV shows to stream this weekend

None of them are particularly festive, mind you, so we’ve also compiled a few other lists to give you some ideas:

Screenshot of Google Santa Tracker Santa Selfie game

You can help Santa get ready for his big day in Santa Selfie, one of several available games in Google’s Santa tracker (Image credit: Google)

So, let’s give a quick overview of what Santa’s schedule is. 

As far as NORAD is concerned, Santa is kicking off in about seven hours at 4AM EST / 9AM GMT / 5PM AWST, giving me just enough time for a full night’s sleep before the excitement begins. Google, however, is willing to let me sleep in, suggesting Santa takes off an hour later than that.

We’ll be sharing trivia and Christmas alongside keeping tabs on Santa all day long tomorrow. As a very, very vague guideline, Santa tends to fly over most countries sometime between 9PM and midnight in whatever your local time zone is, so make sure to set your alarms now, bookmark this page, and come back to check when he’s nearby. 

With that, it’s time for this little elf to go finish her own Christmas preparations – see you in the morning!

Good morning! And Happy Christmas Eve, if that’s a thing. Of course it’s a thing – Christmas Eve is one of the best days of the year and deserves to be celebrated in its own right.

Anyway, NORAD says there’s now just 90 minutes to go until it starts tracking Santa. Google says there’s still two and a half hours, but  we think NORAD knows more about this kind of thing, so we’ll stick with that.

A still from the intro video to Google's 2023 Santa tracker showing Santa and two penguins

(Image credit: Google)

Whether it’s right about the takeoff time or not, Google’s Santa Tracker site really is a wonderful thing, and I particularly love the little video that plays at the start. It’s enough to get even the hardest-hearted Grinch into the festive spirit. But, if anyone from Google is reading this, I do have a slight issue with it – and it concerns penguins. 

Look, we all know Santa lives at the North Pole. But we also know that penguins are southern-hemisphere creatures. They don’t live in the North Pole. Then again, maybe Santa has flown them out there to help him prepare for Christmas – they do seem quite good at getting him ready for his flight, after all.

Santa in New Zealand on the Google Santa Tracker

(Image credit: Google)

So, what can you expect to see once Santa takes off? Well, Google uses its Maps technology to plot the bearded one’s progress, as well as providing a helpful tally of how many gifts he’s delivered so far and some useful information about the local area.

NORAD, meanwhile, has the advantage of having actual satellite images of Santa on his sleigh, rather than just a cartoon. Our suggestion: follow both and get double the fun.

Santa on the NORAD Santa tracker

(Image credit: NORAD)

Google's Christmas games

(Image credit: Google)

While we’re patiently waiting for Santa’s reindeers to hoist him into the air, there are a ton of ways to pass the time on both the Google Santa Tracker and the NORAD Santa Tracker.

Head to the Google site and you can play a variety of games: from bouncing presents into their targets to taking down elves with snowballs. Just click the menu button in the top left to see the games gallery.

NORAD Santa Tracker homepage

(Image credit: NORAD)

Over on the NORAD site we’ve got holiday songs, Santa facts, and games involving penguins, candy canes and plenty more – each house on the main page has something behind it.

In fact, there’s enough here to keep you entertained all through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so it might be worth bookmarking these pages for later.

According to NORAD, Santa will be on his merry way in less than an hour.

Screenshot showing NORAD's RADAR chatbot

(Image credit: NORAD)

I thought it might be fun to try out Radar, NORAD’s chatbot, to see how it was getting on before Santa Claus takes off.

It’s not the most advanced artificial intelligence right now – it’s certainly no ChatGPT – but it didn’t tell me something I didn’t know before, which is that Santa’s sleigh travels at the speed of starlight. As everyone knows, that’s fast – really fast. Don’t tire out those reindeer, Santa!

Google Bard talking about how fast Santa travels

(Image credit: Google)

That gave me an idea, actually, so I asked Google’s own AI, Bard, the same question. It gave me a lot more information, stating that:

“The speed of Santa’s sleigh is a bit of a mystery, as it depends on some assumptions we make about his Christmas Eve journey.

Here are a couple of ways to think about it:

If Santa visits every child in the world in one night:

This would be an incredible feat, as there are billions of children around the globe!

Calculations based on this assumption suggest Santa would need to travel at speeds far exceeding anything we can imagine, like thousands of times faster than the speed of sound!

At such speeds, Santa and his reindeer would face major challenges like extreme g-forces and friction from the atmosphere.

If Santa takes advantage of time zones:

The Earth is divided into 24 time zones, so as Santa travels east, he effectively gains an extra hour for every time zone he crosses.

This gives him more time to deliver presents and reduces the required travel speed to a more manageable range, around 0.5% the speed of light.

Even at this speed, Santa’s sleigh would still be incredibly fast, but at least it wouldn’t violate the laws of physics!”

Bard finishes by saying that:

“Ultimately, the exact speed of Santa’s sleigh is a matter of speculation and Christmas magic. But one thing is for sure, he must be incredibly fast and efficient to deliver all those presents in one night!

“So, whether you believe Santa travels at supersonic speeds or takes advantage of time zones, the important thing is to remember the spirit of Christmas – spreading joy, love, and generosity. And that, my friend, is something that travels at the speed of light! Merry Christmas!”

Thanks, Bard!

While I wait for Santa to take off I like to amuse myself by playing some of Google’s excellent games. My favorite is Quick Draw – although I’m not very good at it.

Santa Tracker

(Image credit: Google)

How does it work? Well the robot asks you to draw something, then tries to guess what it is. It’s like Pictionary, but with a robot rather than your family all shouting at you. The effect is much the same though, with it getting repeatedly annoyed at me and saying “I don’t know what that is!”

Google Home Hub

(Image credit: Google)

Google takes its Santa tracking very seriously (as it should do).

For instance, it lets you use Google Assistant to communicate directly with the patron of presents (either using Google Assistant baked into your Android phone, the Google app on iPhone in some regions or a Google-enabled smart speaker or smart hub), allowing anyone to say ‘Hey Google, what’s new at the North Pole’ and hear the latest news updates from Santa’s world.

It’s great fun and well worth trying.

Santa preparing his sleigh just before he departs to start delivering gifts

(Image credit: Midjourney / Future)

There’s now just 10 minutes until Santa takes off, according to NORAD. Exciting!

This just in: Santa is preparing for lift-off! Before he begins his epic gift-giving voyage around the world, Santa needs to do his final checks. Reindeer? Check. Reins? Check. Presents?

He forgot the presents. That’s what last minute checks are for!

Right, we’re just 1 minute anyway from NORAD’s Santa Tracker starting. Let’s see what happens!

Santa prepares to take off on the NORAD santa tracker website

(Image credit: NORAD)

And we have good news! The NORAD tracking site has confirmed: “Current conditions at the North Pole indicate good weather for flying.”

That’s what we like to hear.

The NORAD website seems to be struggling a little bit right now, which is exactly the same problem we had last year. Maybe Santa needs to buy them some new computers for Christmas?

Google's Santa Tracker map

(Image credit: Google)

There are no such problems on the Google Santa Tracker, which already has its map live ahead of the big man’s departure in about 50 minutes. It’s currently showing a live feed of the preparations 🙂

OK, the NORAD site is working again – it’s showing that cheery photo of Santa preparing (scroll down). It looks like both sites will have him taking off at the same time, which is in about 45 minutes at 5AM ET / 2AM PT / 10AM GMT / 6PM AWST. Not long to go, folks.

Santa Claus The Movie

(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)

Whenever there’s a lull in conversation at this time of year, you can always start a debate about what the best Christmas movie is – or even a debate about what it is that makes a movie a Christmas movie. Does it have to be set over the holidays? Is snow compulsory? Does Santa need to make an appearance?

You can check out our rundown of the best Christmas movies and see if you agree with our choices. There are some classics in there and some that are perhaps a little less well-known, though your personal favorite might not be included. In this live blogger’s personal opinion, there’s something special about 1985’s Santa Claus The Movie (pictured above) – though you won’t find it on many lists.

We haven’t forgotten about Santa by the way – he’s due to set off in 30 minutes. We can only imagine the sort of bedlam happening around his sleigh at the moment, a sleigh which is reportedly going to be packed with 60,000 tons of presents.

Santa trackers hard at work on Christmas eve at NORAD

(Image credit: Midjourney / Future)

If you’re in the US, you can actually call NORAD from 4am MST today up until midnight to find out where Santa is: the number you need is 1 877 HI-NORAD (1 877 446-6723).

NORAD says that more than 1,250 uniformed personnel and civilian volunteers give up their time to answer calls and to make sure you always know where Santa is. Our AI-generated image above gives you a great idea of what that must look like.

However, they’ll also give you an important warning: Santa isn’t going to deliver his presents until you’re asleep!

Folks we’re t-minus 5 minutes from the big take-off – over on the Google Santa Tracker the map view is showing the man of the moment preparing to leave the North Pole.

Meanwhile the NORAD Santa Tracker is still showing a picture of Father Christmas packing up presents. He’s cutting it mighty fine here, but we assume after all these years he knows what he’s doing.

Google Santa tracker live

(Image credit: Google Santa Tracker)

And he’s off (at least on the Google tracker)! We can confirm that Santa is now heading over the Arctic Ocean and has already delivered nearly 900 presents. St Nicholas is good at this, right?

It’s now Christmas Day somewhere… did you know the earliest time zone on planet Earth is UTC+14:00? And it didn’t even officially exist until 1994. The islands of Kiribati have now ticked over to Christmas Day, though with a population of under 120,000 Santa doesn’t have too many presents to deliver.

As yet NORAD hasn’t updated its 2D or 3D maps – but we’re watching closely for the next update.

With Santa already hard at work we’re still waiting for the NORAD Santa Tracker to get a lock on his location – but we expect the big man has his most excitable elf currently working on the issue, and for now, you can stick with using the Google Santa Tracker.

Managing these trackers isn’t easy, considering how fast Santa is flying around the world in order to deliver every present on time. We’re hoping the reindeer get Christmas Day off.

Gifts delivered count: 3,000 and rising fast.

Santa’s first stop, according to Google, will be Provideniya in Russia. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot about it (or anything about it, really), but it looks like a pretty place, if slightly windswept.

Google Santa Tracker map

(Image credit: Google)

NORAD still hasn’t updated, but Google now has Santa over the sea east of Russia and says he’s now delivered 66,000-plus gifts in 15 minutes. That’s probably more than even Amazon can manage!

Google Santa Tracker map

(Image credit: Google)

Santa has now just arrived in the Marshall Islands after his trip around eastern Russia. Current delivered present count: 2,716,121! He’ll be around the Pacific nations for a while now, before then heading for New Zealand and Australia. 

Child surrounded by teddies with an Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker

Now guys, listen up: ‘Alexa, where’s Santa?’ (Image credit: Amazon)

If you want to find out where Santa is hands free, and you have an Echo or Echo Dot, then another trick you can try is enabling the NORAD Santa Tracker skill on Alexa, which will then allow you to say things like “Alexa, ask NORAD Tracks Santa, where’s Santa?” – it’s a bit cumbersome but if Alexa is the only smart assistant in your house, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got.

You can ask ‘Alexa, where’s Santa?’ if you enable another holiday personality skill too – head into the app and you’ll see it displayed proudly at the top, and you can get stories, info and all manner of things too.

Santa in New Zealand, tucking in for a barbecue

(Image credit: Midjourney / Future)

Santa has arrived in New Zealand! He’s likely had to take his jacket off while putting out presents, as it’s 23°C / 73°F right now in Auckland – so it’s little wonder that in this country a BBQ is just as likely to be the official meal of Christmas Day as a traditional roast lunch or dinner.

Christmas trivia: Kiwis have their own special Christmas tree called the Pōhutukawa, which has bright red flowers that are popular decorations and also feature on Christmas cards. It’s been associated with Christmas since the mid 1800s, though many people do also erect the globally recognized pine-style tree in their homes.

Present count update: Santa has given out more than 14 million presents so far, and he’s just getting started.

Screenshot of Santa and reindeer from NORAD Santa Tracker

(Image credit: NORAD)

BIG UPDATE! NORAD’s tracking is now up and running! There he is in all his glory…

This is perhaps something you shouldn’t mention to the kids if you’re in the US, UK, or Australia – but in a lot of countries, presents are actually opened on Christmas Eve. It’s the tradition in many parts of Europe and South America, and it’s something the British Royal Family does too.

Now that both the NORAD and Google trackers are up and running, we can see that they’re not quite in full agreement about where Santa is right now: he’s either heading for the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean, or New Caledonia in the South Pacific.

If anyone can be in two places at once, it has to be Santa Claus.

Santa tracked by NORAD

(Image credit: NORAD)

NORAD reckons Santa is a lot more generous than Google: at the time of writing NORAD puts the number of presents given out at more than 244 million, and the big guy with the beard is just getting started. Google puts the figure at a more modest 37 million right now, but perhaps Google has more information about who’s been naughty or nice this year.

Of course, thanks to the wonders of the internet, last-minute Christmas gifts aren’t a problem any more. You can email a loved one a gift voucher or a subscription to a streaming service at a moment’s notice, although these aren’t really the kind of presents you can wrap up and put under the tree.

Santa Claus waving

(Image credit: Google)

Google says Santa and his reindeers are now on their way to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on Sakhalin Island, in eastern Russia.

We don’t know too much about the place, but we do know Google uses its Santa Tracker to learn more about its systems and tools. The tech giant gets its staff in the festive mood by letting developers experiment with computer and mobile interactions through the Santa Tracker – but apparently, it doesn’t always go to plan.

In a blog post, Dave Holmes who works in developer relations at Google said: “One engineer who focused on AI and human movement came up with this idea for a game where you could enable tracking on your computer and teach the elves to dance, and they would mimic your movement.”

But just before launch, they found a glitch. “If the tracker lost you for a second… the elves’ heads and arms would go flying off!”

Santa enjoying KFC in Japan

(Image credit: Midjourney / Future)

The NORAD tracker appears to be broken again – we’re back to the “Santa prepares” screen – but don’t worry kids, because Google’s Santa Tracker is still keeping tabs on the gift-giver in chief.

The guy just landed on Chichijima island off Japan, a country where the holiday season works a bit differently. In Japan, New Year’s Day is the main day to celebrate with family, and Christmas Eve is Japan’s version of Valentine’s day – so it’s very much the season of sentimentality.

Japan’s Christmas culture is fairly unique, too. Believe it or not, the meal of choice on Christmas in Japan is KFC, with an estimated 3.5 million Japanese families flocking to the fast food chain for their Christmas chicken fix. There are also some typical traditions like Christmas cakes, lights, and markets with a culturally relevant Japanese spin on them.

After some deep digging – i.e. checking X, the platform formerly known as Twitter – we’ve discovered that NORAD is indeed having “technical difficulties” with its tracker, but you can still keep up with Santa’s whereabouts via the @NoradSanta X account.

According to Google’s map, Santa Claus is busy zooming around the edges of the Pacific Ocean, having delivered close to 50 million presents. He’s going to be checking off a lot more countries on his list over the next few hours.

See more

Santa cooking food over an open barbecue

(Image credit: Midjourney / Future)

Bonza, Santa’s arrived in Australia! In the December warmth of the southern hemisphere, the only white Christmas you’ll find is the froth of waves over the beach. Naturally, Christmas traditions follow from this: Santa often stops for a surf in some board shorts, and Christmas dinner is often a cold meal, or a seafood barbecue including – yes, you guessed it – shrimp and prawns.

Cricket is also a big tradition especially on Boxing Day (the holiday on the day after Christmas day, which the country shares with the UK, unsurprisingly given their history).

We hope Santa is delivering something wonderful for our colleagues in TechRadar Australia – happy Christmas, Sharm, Jasmine, Petra and Max!

The NORAD Santa Tracker is back, and also puts him in Australia, so it’s good to know that the world’s most powerful data crunchers (the US Government and Google) are in agreement.

Santa has made his way out of Australia (it took a while – it’s quite large), and is now heading to South Korea – and has just passed 300,000,000 gifts delivered, according to Google’s tracker.

Like Japan, South Korea celebrates Christmas as a holiday of romance, which couples will spend together, more akin to Valentine’s Day than what we think of as Christmas in the UK or US. And it’s an official public holiday, so they really get to enjoy their day. 

The Christmas delicacy of choice is sponge cake covered in whipped cream and strawberries – the fruit of love!

Did you know that the most successful Christmas movie at the box office is The Grinch – not the Jim Carrey one, the animated movie from 2018, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Angela Lansbury? It beat Home Alone, which held the record previously.

However, if you adjust for inflation, Home Alone takes the prize comfortably.

When it comes to Christmas songs, the Guinness Book of World Records claims that Bing Crosby’s White Christmas is the best-selling Christmas song… and, if fact, the best-selling single of all time. We doubt its popularity has changed too much in the era of streaming, since it’s probably on every single Christmas playlist.

All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey seems to be the only song even close to challenging Bing for popularity. Wikipedia even claims that it’s the best-selling Christmas ringtone, from back when people paid for ringtones. We’ll be honest, we’re taking Wikipedia’s word on that; we didn’t dig too deep into it ourselves.

Both NORAD and Google have Santa back in Japan and heading towards Sapporo. The city has a great park and a beautiful beer museum, but we suspect he won’t have time for tourism.

Santa is now heading towards Yakutsk, in Russia. It sits on the Lena river, which is the longest in Russia, which is not exactly a small country. The Lena river is actually the 11th longest river in the world, and passes some incredibly dramatic countryside – in particular, the Lena pillars and Lena cheeks, which tower over the river.

A structure made of ice is lit up in vibrant colours

(Image credit: Rita Willaert, Flickr)

Santa is heading towards Harbin in China, which is home to a famous Ice and Snow Festival that’s one of the most magical things you’ll ever see. It doesn’t happen over Christmas – it takes place in early January – but it’s where huge structures and sculptures are made from snow and ice and lit up in creative ways. See this article on the BBC for lots more information about it, and (most importantly) lots of mind-blowing pictures.

Now Santa is making his way to Mongolia, where Christmas isn’t widely celebrated, but there are small communities that do. Interestingly, though, Mongolia does widely have the tradition of a “New Year’s Tree” which is a triangular, pine-style tree decorated with lights and baubles. Yes, it’s basically what people who observe Christmas would recognize as a Christmas tree, but made to honor and enjoy a different holiday. So while things are different in Mongolia, they’re quite familiar, too.

Having visited Eastern China, Santa is on his way to the Phillippines. Christmas is huge there, where it’s known as Pasko, with excitement and celebrations starting in early September, running through to December 25th. 

Celebrations include a lot of Western Christmas traditions – including waiting for Santa, singing carols and sending cards – but there are also some traditions unique to the Filipinos, such as the ‘parol’, which is a star made from bamboo strips with colored paper over its panels, making for a stained-glass effect, to commemorate the star that the wise men followed.

People will often stay up all night on Christmas Eve to see in the big day!

Ah, Santa’s on his way to Hong Kong, which is another place that loves to go big for Christmas. You can’t expect a white Christmas there, but the fluffy white silvergrass fields you can find in the countryside certainly feels close!

The city itself will include elaborate decorations and huge festive markets, so you’ll definitely feel the Christmassy vibe all over. In West Kowloon, there’s a whole Christmas Town you can visit, which is up from November to January, and includes a gigantic tree, vibrant decorations, and the chance to visit Santa (even before he made this stop).

Santa’s just arriving in Taiwan. Not everyone in Taiwan celebrates Christmas, and a lot of people might not even have the day off! But you can still see Christmas lights in shopping centers, and those who are feeling really festive might be able to visit the biggest Christmas tree in Taipei, which is 15 meters tall and has over 27,000 bulbs to make it sparkle. 

Did you know that Santa’s sleigh has to travel 650 miles per second (that’s 3,000 times the speed of sound!) in order to deliver all those presents on time? That makes it the fastest vehicle on the planet. It’s a good job he can fly, and doesn’t have to deal with holiday traffic on the roads. 

All that flying must have useful for getting round all the different islands of the Philippines – where Santa has just finished delivering presents – too. 

Illustration of elves playing instruments

(Image credit: Google)

If you fancy a quick break, there are plenty of games to explore on the Google Santa Tracker. I’ve just found one that lets you create your own festive tunes with help from a group of multi-talented elves. They’re probably pretty pleased to have finished their work for the year, with all their toys safely packed away in Santa’s sleigh and off on their way to their new owners.

NORAD’s Santa tracker isn’t working quite as it should be. He was last seen there heading towards Christmas Island, which got its title in 1643 when Captain William Mynors from the British East India Company named the island after spotting it on Christmas Day (although there were sightings from English and Dutch navigators dating back to the early 1600s). The island is now famous for its incredible coral reefs, as well as red crabs, whale sharks, and sea birds. 

Girl listening to Christmas songs on headphones, relaxing next to the tree

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s not quite time for me to head off to bed, but if it’s evening where you are, and you’re too excited to drop off, maybe some specially-chosen festive tunes could help? Someone did some research to find out the best Christmas songs to help you sleep, by looking at the common factors in Spotify’s most popular sleep playlists, and matching them up against holiday songs. Apparently, you’re looking for a song that’s mostly acoustic, not very lively or happy, and which doesn’t make you want to get up a dance. Which all makes sense. 94 BPM (beats per minute) was found to be the most common tempo.

Santa with holly pattern on his beard

(Image credit: Google)

While Santa makes his way around Southeast Asia, I am exploring more of the games on the Google Tracker. Perhaps after all that hard work, Santa could do with a bit of pampering? Head to Google’s Santaselfie and you can give him a makeover. There’s some clippers to trim his beard (or, if you like, shave him completely), a hairdryer that seems to cause him some alarm, and some perfume to make him smell nice and festive. Less traditionally, there are also three cans of spray paint, which can be used to create some pretty funky beard patterns. 

NORAD now has Santa heading back into China. There, he’s better known as Dun Che Lao Ren (dwyn-chuh-lau-oh-run). You’ll find plenty of classic traditions, but with a Chinese twist – for example, those who celebrate Christmas might do so by lighting their homes with paper lanterns, or personalizing their trees with paper decorations.

Either Santa has duplicated himself or someone’s tracking skills aren’t up to scratch! Google still has Santa making his way around China, but according to NORAD he’s zoomed all the way off into Russia. I hope he catches up with himself soon. 

A plate of mince pies with a sprig of holly

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the UK, we leave a mince pie (made from sweet dried fruit, not meat!) out for Santa to snack on as he makes his way around the globe. If you’re not busy delivering presents to millions of children, that’s not a good thing to eat just before bed, because it’ll make it harder to sleep. But we’ll give Santa a pass – he probably doesn’t have time for a nap, after all. 

Google now has Santa heading into Russia, where he’s known as Ded Moroz, or Father Frost. He travels with Snegurochka – a snow maiden who is said to be his granddaughter. Your Santa might be round and jolly but in Russia he’s tall and thin, and instead of traveling by sleigh, he makes his way around the country using a ‘troika’ pulled by horses.

Father Frost is actually a little early to be giving out his gifts here – Russians have a New Year tree rather than a Christmas tree, so the children there will be looking for their presents on 1 January.

Lights at Moscow Winter Festival

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Winter Festivals take place across Russia, but the biggest one is in Moscow and runs from them middle of December to the middle of January. There you can marvel at spectacular ice sculptures, ride a ‘troika’ (which is what Santa uses to get around, there!) and eat bagels and jam. 

If you want to keep an eye on where Santa’s up to, but need your hands free to wrap your own presents, then you can use your Echo or Echo Dot. Enable the NORAD Santa Tracker skill on Alexa, and then say, “Alexa, ask ‘NORAD Tracks Santa’, where’s Santa?” to get your update.

According to Google’s tracker (the NORAD one’s still having a few problems) Santa’s just finished dropping off gifts in Kyrgyzstan. Just like in Russia, Santa usually visits on New Year’s Eve rather than Christmas eve. At midnight, families throughout the country set off fireworks to celebrate.

Right, so NORAD has Santa wrapping up (pun intended) in India, where Google says he’s heading there now. 

While Christmas isn’t quite as unilaterally celebrated in India, the festivities are still observed with fervor nonetheless – and different regions have different traditions. For example, Kerala sees a big focus on the nativity, with the community banding together to create the best possible scene and add flair to the crib. Branches from mango trees serve as Christmas trees, adorned with baubles and homemade decorations. 

On the other hand, in Goa, celebrations start far earlier in the month with various markets, carnivals, and parades, and Burma sees the season commence with decorating in the second week of December and Carollers distributing money collected during their chorus to the poor and needy. 

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