The presents are wrapped, the tree is up, and the stockings will soon be hung by the chimney with care. There’s only one thing left to do: track Santa’s annual voyage around the world from your PC, smartphone, or tablet.
Santa officially began his annual trek around 10 a.m. UTC on December 24, which is 5 a.m. Eastern/2 a.m. Pacific, which means you can already track Ol’ Saint Nick across the Earth’s skies. Here’s how to keep tabs on Santa’s 2015 journey.
It’s a special year for the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) Santa tracker and its partner since 2012, Microsoft. In 2015, NORAD celebrates 60 years since a misprinted telephone number in a newspaper ad led children in the Colorado Spring area to call NORAD predecessor CONAD looking for Santa.
As usual, the fun begins at NoradSanta.org, where you can find games, videos, music, and stories to pass the time. Once Santa’s sleigh lifts off from the North Pole, the website will track Santa using Bing Maps and link to video updates on YouTube.
Microsoft also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use this year’s NORAD Santa site to advertise its latest browser, Edge, which is built into Windows 10. For Edge users, Microsoft has created a special online coloring and activity book for kids of all ages. Really, this is just a way to get you to try Edge’s Web Note functionality, which allows you to draw on a webpage. It’s a fun activity, although it was a little buggy in my experience.
The Googley Old Elf
Now in its fourth year going solo, Google’s tracking site has been offering peeks at Santa all month with its own version of an Advent Calendar. Leading up to the official Santa tracking on Thursday, Google’s Santa tracking site includes a mix of games, videos, and educational activities using Google services.
The site includes a few new items as well as many old classics, like the always amusing Santa phone call greetings and coding challenges.
In my tests, many of the games and activities are better played on a mobile device than a PC. If you don’t want to use Google’s website, the company is offering its annual Android app, which has Chromecast support so you can watch Santa on the big screen. Or you can get virtual and use Google’s Santa Tracking app with Cardboard.
Chrome users can install Google’s extension to get timely updates without having to navigate to Google’s webpage. Google’s also built Santa tracking into its search engine. Just type in something like “where is Santa” and you’ll get an update at the top of the results page.
Finally, you can track Santa using Google Earth for a 3D cartographic experience. Check out the Google Earth Blog for more details.