The annual, abominable snowman of a pub crawl known as Santacon returns Saturday, and here’s how you better watch out for the damned thing, or else Santa yourself up and ride the tide of Yule.

Red Alert! Consider yourself warned that Santacon returns with bells on this Saturday, December 9, bringing drunken fools in Santa costumes getting black-out drunk during the daytime all over the streets of San Francisco with their unpermitted, unsanctioned meetup and pub crawl. It’s SF’s 28th annual iteration of the Christmas cosplay bacchanal that dates back to 1994 — the era of its early Cacophony Society days when it was also colloquially known as Santarchy — and it has since spread to dozens of other cities worldwide.

You will either think that Santacon used to be cool but jumped the shark more than a decade ago and turned into a drunken disgrace, or that it is still absolutely the most glorious pub crawl on the whole calendar. Your feelings on this probably depend on your age.

Santacon SF 2023 starts at Union Square at 12 noon Saturday, and then goes awry to various SF neighborhoods that have lots of bars.


The best way to avoid Santacon is to just stay home! But if you must go out, you’ll want to avoid Union Square for sure, and you’ll likely also be seeing red in Polk Gulch, the Tenderloin, Nob Hill, and North Beach. The Marina may also be highly infested with Santas reeking of Axe body spray.

Santacon’s horrible reputation is richly deserved. The deplorable Santas have become known for leaving a stream of broken bottles, vomit, and urine behind them, and many bars have banned Santacon revelers. The nadir of Santacon may have come in the early 2010s, when Eater SF published their handy “NO SANTAS: Go back to the North Pole” signage for establishments to post in 2012. The original organizers also declared Santacon dead in 2014. That came on the heels of one frustrated New York resident penning the angry 2013 New York Times op-ed begging city officials to “Bring Drunken Santas Under Control.”

Yet, still, a new generation of elves has grown into the outfit and taken over the informal organizing of the apparently unkillable Santacon. And since San Francisco is still a town that loves to day-drink like no other, especially when costumes are involved, this thing has taken on a life of its own well beyond those more modest early years.


Mamacita… Dónde Esta Santacon?

As mentioned above, Santacon starts at 12 noon at Union Square. Participants are asked to bring an unwrapped toy to donate to Santacon’s toy drive. After the Union Square meetup, the flash mob of Santas will rooty-toot-toot and rummy-tum-tum all over town in ways impossible to predict, but likely migrating towards neighborhoods with plenty of bars.


NOTE: Do not buy tickets to Santacon! It’s a free event! For the third year in a row, some shysters are trying to market Santacon as something you have to pay for, and their execrable marketing is seen above. This year they’re charging between $29.99-$49.99 for something you do not have to pay to participate in (oh, but they’re also offering a “FREE Exclusive NFT”!). Nothing but a lump of coal and maybe an NFT for them!

Santacon SF 2023 is Saturday, December 9, starting at 12 noon Union Square, and then debauching about the city.

Related: Rival ‘Sexy’ SantaCon Angers Traditional SantaCon with $20 Wristband Fee, Cheesecake Advertising [SFist]

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