The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Google both have apps that allow children across the world to monitor his movements as he delivers presents.
NORAD’s Santa tracking app
NORAD’s official Santa Tracking app and website provides resources to help you and your little ones learn about Santa, listen to his favourite songs, play games, and watch films about him.
The website also allows you to track Santa’s journey, right from his take off, to his landing back in the North Pole.
The Norad Tracks Santa Twitter page gives updates on Santa’s whereabouts throughout the day.
The NORAD Tracks Santa website receives almost nine million unique visitors each year, from more than 200 countries across the globe. On Christmas Eve, around 1,500 volunteers respond to emails and calls asking about Santa's exact locations.
Today (Thu 24 Dec) sees the official Santa tracker launch, allowing eager followers of Santa Claus to keep an eye on his journey across the world. The app is available to download on both iOS and Android mobile phone devices.
History of NORAD’s Santa Tracker
NORAD’s role in Christmas dates back to 1955, where Colonel Harry Shoup answered a call made to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) in Colorado Springs, USA. To the Colonel’s surprise it was a young child phoning the top secret line after a mistake in a newspaper advert for ‘Santa’s Lapland’ confusing CONAD with NORAD.
That evening Colonel Shoup, along with some of colleagues, answered several calls from other children, all looking for the whereabouts of Santa Claus.
NORAD continued to carry out its Santa monitoring role for over 60 years, first answering phone calls, then in 1997, launching the online tracker.
More than 50 years later, with the help of Colonel Shoup’s granddaughter, who worked for Google, the NORAD+Google Santa tracker was launched in 2007.
In 2020, volunteers will field calls from children on Christmas Eve to tell them where Santa is flying. However, Covid-19 regulations mean the number of NORAD staff on the lines will be limited in 2020, the 65th year of the service.
NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter said, “We understand this is a time-honoured tradition, and we know undoubtedly there is going to be some disappointment.
“But we’re trying to keep it safe for everyone involved.”
Some callers will be able to speak to a member of the military but others will get a recorded update on the current location of Father Christmas.
Google Santa Tracker
Google also has a Santa tracking website, where you will be able to “explore, play and learn with Santa’s elves all December long.”
Google’s Santa's Village offers a wide selection of exciting games and resources for children and families. Children can learn about different holiday traditions around the world, alongside learning how to code and say different festive greetings from around the globe.
Users can also track Santa via their website app, and follow Santa’s route around the world.
What route does Santa take?
Traditionally, Santa begins his journey out in the Pacific Ocean and travels west. Santa will visit the South Pacific, then New Zealand and Australia. After that, he will pop up to Asia, via Japan, then make his way around the giant continent of Africa. Eventually, he moves on to Europe, Canada, the United States and South America.
Santa travels an estimated 510 million kilometres on Christmas Eve, moving at approximately 1,800 miles per second.