You will want to be tucked in bed long before Santa is set to arrive in your city, but because Santa’s secret route is affected by unpredictable factors, such as weather and the number of stops, no one can know in advance exactly when his sleigh will be in a certain town. And since he travels “faster than starlight,” it’s impossible for NORAD to post every single location.
However, here’s what we do know, per NORAD:
- Historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then moves up and down across the Eastern, then the Western hemispheres. (He usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west.)
- He usually stops in most cities between 9 p.m. and midnight (local time) so make sure you’re in bed or he might skip over your house.
With advance warning of Santa’s approach, kids will have plenty of time to get to bed and fall asleep before he’s set to arrive.
The oldest way to track Santa is about as advanced as you can get. NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is normally tasked with detecting potential attacks from missiles, aircraft or space vehicles. But for more than 60 years, the U.S.-Canadian joint operation has taken on the additional mission of tracking Santa and his sleigh on Christmas Eve. Apparently, Rudolph's infrared nose helps reveal their precise location. Don't worry about Santa, though – NORAD certainly knows the difference between a missile and the sleigh!
NORAD tracks Santa's journey in eight different languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.
NORAD's posts on social media sites like Facebook also help update the public on the big guy's progress and let watchers know where he was spotted most recently and where he's expected to visit next. They also sometimes include additional intelligence information, such as the fact that they believe Santa weighs about 260 pounds (before cookies).
Kids who want to track Santa on their phones or borrow their parents' can download the NORAD Tracks Santa app on iTunes and Google Play. Games, stories and other fun content is also available.
And don't panic if your internet goes down. You can call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) starting at 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Christmas Eve to get Santa tracking updates from a live person.
Of course, you probably use Google to search for everything else, so why not Santa? Google's Santa Tracker has been on the job for 15 years and in addition to tracking offers lots of Santa's Village content starting in early December.
Kids can create a card by programming their own snowflakes and learn Santa lingo and holiday traditions from around the world. You'll also find a countdown clock and be able to track Santa starting on Dec. 24.
Finally, if you have Alexa or Google Home, you can ask “Where is Santa?” and get an answer.