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A Very 2020 Christmas: Socially Distanced Santa in Philly

We've rounded up some creative ways around town (and online) to meet with St. Nick in the age of Covid.

With coronavirus continuing to ruin everything, sitting on Santa’s lap is not exactly a great idea—age and obesity are Covid risk factors, after all. And even though Dr. Fauci said Santa Claus is immune, it is not clear that grace extends to mall Santas and other surrogates of Jolly Old St. Nick. If you’re still looking for ways to get that photo and tell the big man your wishlist, here are some creative ways around town (and online) to do it.

Fashion District Philadelphia

Fridays—Sundays in December, reservations required

Ninth and Market streets


Santa arrives at the District on December 4. This year, for the safety of visitors and himself, Santa will be stationed behind a plexiglass protection shield with a bench in front for visitors to sit. Guests are able to interact with Santa through the shield and take photos. Reservations are required online. Photos will be available in digital download only. Photo-shy, but still want to say “hi” to Santa? Visits with Santa are free and are sure to put a smile on his face, but reservations are still required.


While you’re there, you can visit the Welcome Station to pick up your paper and pen to write a letter to Santa, and place it in Santa’s red mailbox. If you prefer, you can also schedule a virtual visit with Santa through Fashion District Philadelphia.

Gritty Claus at Winter on Broad

November 27—January 3, tickets and reservations required

Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St.


Planning to visit the giant walk-through holiday lights at Winter on Broad? Be sure to book a separate ticket for a one-of-a-kind holiday photo with Gritty Claus! Who is Gritty Claus, you ask? Only our favorite insane Philly mascot, dressed as Santa Claus and wearing a faceshield for added protection. Tickets are $15 per family, and include a digital photo. Pick your timeslot in advance.


Courtesy of Comcast Specatacor


You can also write a letter to Santa at the event and mail it in a special red mailbox.

Santa at Headhouse Square

December 5, noon–4 pm (reservations required)

Headhouse Square Shambles, 2oo Pine St.


Children can talk to Santa from a safe social distance via microphone (complete with their own fresh mic cover-up) and then pose for photos in front of a clear vinyl barrier between them and Santa. Reservations are required; free tickets will be limited per half-hour increment to ensure social distancing. All children over the age of 2 must wear a mask. Guests are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy or new and “gently worn” coats to donate at the event.

Dinner with Santa at Germantown Garden

December 11, 4 pm

1029 Germantown Ave.


Reserve an igloo just for your family and get ready for a safe visit with Santa! Each reservation will receive a private Santa visit per each igloo and a souvenir. Food and drink are pay-as-you-go.

Brunch with Santa at Hawthorne’s

December 12, 13, 19, and 20

738 S. 11th St.


Bring your cameras and Christmas lists for brunch at a private “holiday snow globe” enclosed table for your family only. During your time with Santa at the Christmas garden on 11th Street, expect hot cocoa, games, and toys. For brunch, specials include hot chocolate pancakes, green grinch pancakes, fun whimsical snowman pancakes, Christmas tree waffles, and cocktails for the grownups! Reservations are required.

Pup Pics with Santa at Germantown Garden

December 13, 11 am

1029 Germantown Ave.


Get ready to enjoy a safe and socially-distanced photo opportunity with Santa. Each ticket will receive a professional pup picture with Santa, and all ticket sales will be donated to the SPCA. Advanced tickets are required to ensure social distancing.

Deck the Avenue in East Passyunk

December 13, 19, and 20; noon—2 pm

Broad St. and E. Passyunk Ave.


Come meet Santa by the Gateway tree with social distancing guidelines in place. Bring your own camera and take pictures for free!

Frankford Hall-idays with Santa

December 18-20, reservations required

1210 Frankford Ave.


This year’s visits with Santa will be safe, socially distanced, and will be exclusively outside. Enjoy cozy beverages and a special holiday menu, fill out wish lists for Santa, and visit him for a photo op. This year’s event is by reservation only (link in title), and includes an outside table under the heat lamps, wish list stationery, complimentary hot cocoa, gingerbread cookies to decorate for the kids, and an appointment to visit Santa.

Philadelphia Mills

November 27—December 24

1455 Franklin Mills Circle


Santa and his helpers will be wearing masks throughout the duration of your visit, and guests are required to wear masks as well. Reserve your spot online.

Virtual Santa Visits

Seeing Santa

Santa will chat with your kids over Zoom about what they’ve been doing this year and what gifts are on their Christmas lists. Each visit is approximately four minutes, and costs $24.99, with 50 percent of proceeds donated to Beat Childhood Cancer.

Virtual Santa Visits with Lulu’s Casita

December 4, 5:30–7:30 pm


Get all cozy in your holiday pajamas in the comfort of your own home and FaceTime with Santa. $25 per call. To book your virtual visit email info@luluscasita.com.

Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion hosts Conversations with Santa

December 5; appointments begin at 10 am


Schedule your own special meeting with Santa over Zoom! Cost is $8, and free for families in the 19144 zip code.

Macy’s Santaland

Get a free virtual visit with Santa, plus attend some Facebook Live events with Santa like crafts, storytime, and more!

Storytime and Cookies with Santa

December 13 and 19, noon


Reserve your holiday cookies from Garces (pickup the day before), then tune in for Santa storytime! This virtual experience features an hour with Santa while he takes a break from his workshop to read a beloved Christmas tale while you enjoy Christmas cookies together. Optional add ons include brunch, hot chocolate, and a gingerbread house kit!

Last Minute Santa Requests

December 20; reserve timeslot between 10 am–2:30 pm


Treat the family to a personalized virtual chat with Santa while he takes a break from the workshop to check his list. This $45 virtual experience includes a 10-minute chat with Santa, Christmas Cookies (pickup at least a day before the event), and a personalized letter from the jolly man himself.

Santa: The Experience

Travel through five magical scenes guided by Elf Pickels before your live video chat with Santa which will be five minutes. The Experience will be approximately 10-12 minutes in duration.  You choose to share information on the booking form so Santa has some context such as name, age, Christmas wish list, and even a funny moment which happened this year. There is also the option to buy a recording of the call. Prices start at $34.95.

Call with the Clauses

Make a reservation and personalize a quick video chat with Santa and Mrs. Claus. $49 for five minutes, $69 for 10 minutes, or $149 for 30 minutes. You can also watch them read The Night Before Christmas for free here.

North Pole Meetings

Choose the type of meeting (family, large family, or even classroom!) that works for you, and make a reservation. One of the North Pole elves will be in touch quickly to confirm your date, time, and the link to access your virtual visit. Prices start at $60.







Lead photograph by Kristen Micucci.

Contributing Writer