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Unfortunately Santa doesn’t open up the North Pole in the offseason for a behind-the-scenes look at what takes place in his workshop, but we might have found the next best thing. If the holiday stress and shopping is taking a toll on you this season, just consider taking a holiday timeout to visit the National Christmas Center. There’s no official museum all about Christmas, but this is pretty darn close.
Located in Paradise, Pennsylvania—right in the heart of Amish country—the place is dedicated to preserving and sharing memories of Christmas present and past. We don’t think there's exhibits dedicated to embarrassing holiday sweaters or home movies, but there are 15 different galleries and exhibits—along with a handful of smaller displays. In total there’s like 20,000 square feet of stuff to see and displays to wander through.
In-Flight WiFi / Holiday Travel / Christmas Travel / Santa Claus / WiFi / Gogo / Travel Tech / Videos / → All Tags
These days, with so many WiFi-equipped planes criss-crossing the skies, we definitely think twice before booking flights not equipped with it. In-Flight WiFi is just so...integral to keeping our mobile lifestyle moving, but also it's becoming expected. We're happy to report that someone else joins in this thinkingnone other than the jolly elf himself, Santa Claus.
Earlier this month, Gogo gave Santa the Christmas gift at the top of his list: an upgrade to the newest ATG-4 onboard internet, including the new media platform to allow Santa to watch movies and TV shows while on those long, transocean crossings on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Travel / Santa Claus / Google Maps / Google Earth / Holiday Travel / Around the World Travel / → All Tags
Well, everyone; today is the day. It's the day we can begin "tracking" Santa Claus on his gift-giving journey around the world via NORAD's annual Santa Tracker. There once were days when NORAD, or the North American Aerospace Defense Command, would just send little Santa travel status update videos to the networks, for them to broadcast during newscasts, but these days things are tad more hi-tech than all that. Santa is being tracked by Google Maps.
Over at the official Santa Tracking websitewhich is a cute site to let your kids check every so often during Christmas Eveyou can
watch grass grow watch as Santa slowly (or pretty quickly, really) makes his way around the world, spending no more than 4 minutes in one place. He's already finished with the Pacific Islands (he got to visit Palau a moment ago), New Zealand, Australia andfrom what it looks likeNorth Korea. As we type this, his butt is getting stuck in some minimalist chimneys around Japan, as he's still got quite a while before he hits North America airspace.
We thought Santa was a myth, because really, who lives at the North Pole? It turns out that we we've just been sending our wish lists to the wrong place. Apparently St. Nick's pad is in Greenland, according to the country's tourism bureau.
More specifically, he lives in a secret castle on top of Santa Claus Mountain in Uummannaq. Greenland is connected to the North Pole by ice, so it makes sense that the big guy would reside in the much-more-livable Greenland.
If you want to get your requests into Santa, go to the post office and send them priority to: "Santa Claus, North Pole, Greenland," and the letter will end up in the world's largest mailbox in Nuuk, the country's capital. Every year, thousands of kiddies and adults from around the world write to Santa, filling up the ginormous red mailbox with letters, candy and trinkets. Letters are emptied on Christmas Eve, when they'll undergo the naughty-or-nice review.
You can't keep a good Santa down! Specifically, a Chinese city's giant sculpture of Santa, well on its way to being built this year despite ever-warming temperatures.
Despite the city of Harbin's proximity to Siberia, the region has been affected by the global (temperature) meltdown: For its annual ice festival, including the 78-foot-tall Santa, officials were forced to make snow just like a ski resort. CO2 trouble notwithstanding, this bad boy is going up to the delight of the 800,000 estimated visitors when the fest opens January 5.
· Harbin Ice Festival Sweats Under Global Warming [Lost Weekend]
· Let it Snow: China Builds "World's Largest" Ice Santa [Reuters, via Yahoo!]
· Santa Isn't The Only One Who Digs The North Pole [Jaunted]
[Photo of a Harbin Santa in 2004: dennisyee]
In a moment of weakness, we were convinced to check out the Norad Santa Tracker. And you know what? Despite our suspicions that it'd be super cheesy, it managed to bring some geographic jolly to our Christmas Eve.
Santa, it seems, really does get everywhere, stopping off at places we know and love, like Sydney, Australia and Kobe, Japan, while also bringing presents to kids in spots we've never even heard of. An extra stocking stuffer goes out to anyone who's heard of Onekotan, Russia before today.
To celebrate Santa's globe wandering, we're taking the rest of the day off and hunkering down with eggnog and presents tomorrow. But we'll be back in full force on Friday to swap holiday horror stories and continue our hats-in-airports obsession. See you then, and merry Christmas!
Ho ho no!
Blue 1--a Finnish budget airline affiliated to SAS Airlines and not to be confused with Romania's Blue Air French-based Blue Line--has made a bunch of British kids really blue this Christmas.
The airline should have carried 160 people in two small planes from Manchester to Santa's home in Finnish Lapland early on Saturday morning, but the passengers were then told there'd be a delay while Blue found a new aircraft. The bigger one they got was then deemed too big to land at Finland's Enontekio airport in bad weather and the whole trip was canceled.
Police had to be called to calm down the screaming children, and angry parents had to explain to their kids that they hadn't been good enough to meet Santa this year after all.
· Police called after angry parents protest at cancellation of flight to see Santa in Lapland [Daily Mail UK]
· Fury as Santa Trip is Sleighed [SMH]
· Will the Real Santa Please Stand Up? [Jaunted]
This time of year most people are trying to flee the cold weather instead of embrace it. But British tour operators are pushing trips to the region of Sápmi--classically but incorrectly known as Lapland--as a way to see Santa before he embarks on his RTW trip.
Being from the uncouth continent, we have no idea whether a trip to see Santa's house that doesn't involve a megamall and Polaroids is traditional, but we can't help but be intrigued by offers of Husky safaris and Arctic Circle crossings. Santa Park falls firmly on the tourist-trap side, but Polarfleece addicts might enjoy a toboggan-riding day trip that caters to their inner child. (And we mean inner because seriously, bundle up!)
[Photo of a reindeer in Rovaniemi, Finland: infeite]
When we think of Japan, Christmas is probably one of the last things to come to mind. Still, it makes sense that a country that loves itself some kitsch would fully embrace what has become the world’s tackiest and most commercial holiday (arguments for Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Diwali will all be accepted in the comments).
So we guess it makes sense that the Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise Aquarium in Tokyo has started featuring underwater shows with dolphins and scuba divers dressed as Santa Claus. Looks like our childhood fantasy is true: Santa really can be everywhere at the same time.
But listen, even if the aquarium’s dolphin show is a bit hokey, it’s still a site worth visiting during a trip through Japan. Since dollars, euros and even pounds are all virtually worthless against the yen these days, the best part of the park (after the swimming Santa, of course) is that everything at the aquarium and its adjacent Pleasure Land is a la carte. Once inside this man-made island, you can pay-as-you go to ride on the roller coaster, see the swimming mammals or swing over the sea on a giant pendulum. Japan: Cornering the Bizarre Travel market.
[Photo: Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise Aquarium]
It's too late to grow a real beard: The World Santa Claus Congress starts today in Copenhagen, whose residents will get a glimpse of many Kris Kringles as they parade and wreak havoc out of season.
Santas will promenade down Strøget, a pedestrian thoroughfare made up of several streets in the city center, and later jump into the Copenhagen harbor over the course of the three-day festival, now in its 51st year.
Just don't ask them which one is the real Santa; they'll say they all are.
We already know that Santa is hanging out in Kyrgyzstan instead of the North Pole this year. Now the big man's hosts plan to name a mountain in his honor and put together some real-life reindeer games like chimney climbing and sled racing.
The Central Asian country--just south of Kazakhstan--has lots of remote and unnamed peaks, so turning one into Mount Santa Claus isn't a problem. And it's not an unprecedented move, as the Kyrgyzstanis have already named mountains for Vladimir Lenin and Boris Yeltsin.
Try as we may, we can't determine exactly where Mount Santa Claus is. But maybe that's for the better: Seems like the kind of place that could quickly get overrun by tourists.
[Photo of Kyrgyzstani Mountains: Tigr]
Every December we argue long and loud about exactly where Santa Claus lives, but until now, we never thought that people did scientific research about it.
A Swedish engineering firm with too much time on their hands recently calculated the ideal place for Santa to be based if he wanted to optimize his delivery of Christmas presents on December 24. It turns out that, taking into account the population distribution and the earth's rotation, Santa should start in a spot 22 miles north of Kapkatash in Kyrgyzstan.
While Kyrgyzstan is not known as a tourist hot spot, we already know it as the gentle place where bank robbers use hypnosis instead of guns, and Kapkatash is not far from the border with Borat's home of Kazakhstan. Perhaps we'll soon be promoting "find the real Santa" tours to Kapkatash?