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Where Is Santa?

Every year on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus embarks on a magical journey, visiting homes across the world. We’ve already looked into how Santa gets around the world in one night, but, with the help of smart technology, good boys and girls can now track Santa’s progress all by themselves.

He has already made his list, his elves checked it twice, and he already knows who has been naughty and who has been nice. That is right; Santa Claus is coming to town—and children can follow his progress as he delivers his gifts around the world.

There are two leading agencies that monitor Jolly Saint Nick on Christmas Eve. Both invite people to track Santa on their smartphone, tablet, or computer. The oldest in the books is the military operation known as NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), but now Google also tracks Santa's journey.

History of NORAD Santa Tracker

Every year, the people at NORAD kindly dedicate their Christmas Eve to tracking Santa as he jumps from chimney to chimney, state to state, and continent to continent while gladly eating all the milk and cookies left for him by children. This tradition began in 1955 when an advertisement encouraging kids to call Santa accidentally listed the number for the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD).

On that Christmas Eve, Colonel Harry Shoup was on duty when he received a peculiar call from a small girl asking to speak to Santa. Keep in mind that this line was meant for top-secret calls to the Pentagon—but Santa is top secret too, right? Not wanting to disappoint, Colonel Shoup used the military-grade technology at his disposal to offer real-time updates of Santa's progress. As the calls started flooding in, he instructed his staff to give the children updates as to where Santa was when they called. They answered calls the whole night.

Since then, each year on Christmas Eve, NORAD has offered its tracking services to children eagerly waiting for Santa's arrival. Today, the military organization watches the skies over the USA and Canada. With many satellites at their disposal, they are perfectly equipped to keep an eye on Santa and his reindeer while they’re in the sky.

How it Works

First, the Northern warning radar monitors Northern Canada and Alaska for signs of Santa leaving the North Pole. When these monitors notify the headquarters of Santa's departure, step two is put in place.

The geosynchronous orbit satellite system begins tracking Santa's route, from way up in the stratosphere. This satellite uses infrared systems to detect the heat generated by Rudolf the Reindeer's red nose.

Lastly, the Canadian NORAD fighter pilots take off to welcome Santa and his helpers to North America. When Santa arrives, the American NORAD jet pilots try to fly by him, but they can never keep up for long.

However, the NORAD Track Santa program is made possible with the help of hundreds of volunteers who take charge of the phone lines and post regular updates of Santa's position. These volunteers receive about 70,000 calls each year from children across the world.

How to Track Santa

Norad's coverage begins on 1st December each year. This feature includes special Santa Cams that help visitors who visit the website to watch Santa flying over several global landmarks. For those Children interested in tracking the man in red, Santa Tracking apps are available for Android and iPhone. Children can also give the operation's center a call and find out where Santa is from a NORAD staff member.

The Hotline number opens on December 24 at 4 A.M, MST until midnight. Children can also send an email or engage in a live chat with a NORAD operator.

History of Google Santa Tracker

NORAD is not the only organization tracking Santa. Google, who is a newcomer to Santa Tracking, uses their popular mapping platform and wide satellite coverage to track Santa’s progress.

The search engine kick started its own Santa Tracker in 2004, following Santa with the help of Keyhole—now known as Google Earth. Over the years, the tracking platform has evolved to today's format and shows a live feed of Santa traveling across the world on Christmas Eve.

In 2018, the Santa Tracker added more features for would be Santa trackers. The website launched a variety of games to play before starting to track Santa. Children can learn about Christmas traditions all over the world or use the Google Assistant to call Santa or hear a Christmas story.

How it Works

Every Christmas Eve, the Google Santa Tracker begins showing Santa at about midnight in the furthest eastern time zone. The map shows old St. Nick alternating between traveling and handing out gifts. For those who love statistics, Google's tracking service not only shows Santa's position but also the distance covered, the total number of presents delivered, and how far he is from the viewer's home.

How to Track Santa

Google's Santa Tracker App—available for Android, gives you detailed information about Santa's whereabouts. This tracking platform can even be streamed on TV using Chromecast. There is also a VR Version for Google Cardboard, and customized watch faces for Android Wear Devices.

Santa's Annual Journey

Santa usually starts his journey at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and heads on West. Previous reports show that Santa visited the South Pacific first, and after delivering presents, he traveled North to Japan through Africa and then to Western Europe. Later, Santa visited Canada and the United States.

Keep in mind, Santa's route can be affected by the weather, so each year is unpredictable. NORAD and Google work together with Santa's elves to confirm his launch time, but from there, Santa is in charge.

Which Santa Tracker is the Best?

Both Santa Trackers are loads of fun when it comes to tracking St. Nick on his big day. Google brings a high-tech approach with added facts and stats along the way. With Google, you can follow Santa while playing games and learning a lot about different cities.

On the other hand, NORAD has decades of history and tradition behind it, operated entirely by volunteers dedicated to preserving the Christmas Spirit. Whichever service you choose, Santa is well and truly guaranteed to be spotted coming to town.


According to calculations, about 1.85 billion children around the world hope to receive gifts on Christmas Eve. This statistic means that Santa is required to slide down 740 million chimneys. Christmas Eve must be tough work for Santa and the whole team at the North Pole. Although Santa will be busy on Christmas Eve, he doesn't mind children monitoring his progress. Santa loves children all over the world, and he wants them to keep the Christmas spirit of giving and loving all year round.



How can we track Santa on Christmas Eve?

The two agencies that track Santa on Christmas Eve are NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and Google. There are also Santa tracking apps!

How do the Santa trackers work?

The Santa trackers work by first having The Northern radar monitor Canada and Alaska to see when Santa leaves the North Pole. Next, the satellite system tracks Santa's route by using infrared systems to detect the heat given off by Rudolph's nose! Lastly, pilots fly by Santa to welcome him to America!

Where does Santa begin delivering presents on Christmas Eve?

Santa starts his journey in the Pacific Ocean and heads west. He usually visits the South Pacific first, then travels to Japan, Africa, western Europe, Canada, and the United States! However, his route is unpredictable every year due to possible inclement weather. 

Santa Arrival Countdown


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