Grab Your Beards and Beers: SantaCon Hits South Florida This Weekend

SantaCon 2016 in Coconut Grove.
SantaCon 2016 in Coconut Grove. Photo by Amadeus McCaskill
If a bunch of jolly, tipsy Santas roaming around doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, nothing will.

Regardless of what the jingles have been telling you since Thanksgiving, the most wonderful time of the year is actually this weekend. SantaCon and all of its drunken cheer will take place Saturday, December 16.

A quick refresher: SantaCon is a worldwide event — started in San Francisco in 1994 — that has evolved into a famous bar crawl. In cities such as New York, more than 30,000 people have donned Santa suits to participate.

So what’s the scoop in South Florida? Three events are going down.

SantaCon Miami 2017 will take place in Coconut Grove this Saturday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Participating spots offering drink specials include Tavern in the Grove, Sandbar, Barracuda Taphouse & Grill, Taurus Beer & Whiskey House, Lokal, and Duffy’s Sports Grill.

Unlike a traditional bar crawl with a schedule to keep, SantaCon Miami peeps are encouraged to go whenever and wherever their inner Rudolphs take them.

“This will be our tenth year... We originally put this together to have fun, and that’s what we’re still doing,” says Peter Pinto, who co-organizes the event with fellow local Tom Schaefer. “The nice thing about this format is that if a bar is too full of Santas, then you can go to another one at your own pace.”

Last year's edition attracted more than 1,500 Santas, and Pinto expects a similar crowd in 2017.

In Fort Lauderdale, SantaCon is slated to kick off Saturday at 6 p.m. and might run till 4 a.m. The festivities, which have attracted as many as 2,000 attendees in recent years, will begin at B-Square, with additional stops between Las Olas and the Himmarshee District including American Social, YOLO, O Lounge, Vibe, Grille 401, Rooftop, Cash Only, the Hideaway, Tarpon Bend Food & Tackle, Booze Garden, Lucky’s Tavern, and Bull Market.

“Our SantaCon is completely free, and we also collect donations for Kids in Distress, a great organization that helps thousands of families in South Florida,” says Liz “Mama Santa” Blake, an integral organizer of the event since 2010. “We also have a SantaMobile that parks out in front of a lot of our stops. It’s this awesome, decorated, old car that follows us around. And we sing a lot of carols too.”

In addition to the two biggies, the Brickell SantaCon will begin at noon Saturday. According to the event's Facebook page, participating establishments include Fado Irish Pub, the Wharf, Blue Martini, TuCandela, Balans, American Social, Batch Gastropub, Blackbird Ordinary, and Sidebar.

With so many Saint Nicks and so much booze, the obvious question is: Is there any way to prevent a Santapocalypse? According to a brief statement from the City of Miami, “We are not aware of any street closures for these events.”

According to Fort Lauderdale public information specialist Casey Liening, “the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is aware of the event on Saturday. We will be conducting normal operations, with patrol and special detail officers in the area who will be available in case of an incident to handle accordingly.”

So keep it jolly if you plan to participate as Father Christmas. On the flip side, please don’t crash into Kris Kringle if you are out and about.

SantaCon Miami 2017. 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, December 16, at Tavern in the Grove, Sandbar, Lokal, and others. Admission is free.

SantaCon Brickell 2017. Noon Saturday, Decmeber 16, at Sidebar, Blackbird Ordinary, the Wharf, and others. Admission is free.

SantaCon Fort Lauderdale 2017. 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday, December 16, at B-Square, American Social, Vibe, and others. Admission is free.
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Jesse Scott is a Fort Lauderdale-based contributor for Miami New Times covering culture, food, travel, and entertainment in South Florida and beyond. His work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and his hometown newspaper, the Free Lance-Star, among others.