Launching Santa

Launching SantaLaunching Santa is no small feat.

We place a countdown in the upper right hand corner of all our websites because the launch is what all our efforts are about. We work for that moment all year long. Thousands of projects, hundreds of thousands of elf hours, thousands of support flights and a whole lot of planning goes into that one moment when Santa launches from the North Pole.

When all is said and done, and the crowds have gathered at the North Pole to watch Santa take off, it is always a spectacular moment. Take a listen to the live broadcast of Santa’s launch from just last year:

Some times, there are special circumstances behind Santa’s launch. That’s why our sister site,, tells the story of Santa, the North Pole and the Elves year round. It was just a few years ago that Santa has one of the most unforgettable launches in history. Take a listen to it:

There are countless details to coordinate in getting Santa airborne. The North Pole Flight Command Center takes control of what we call Operation Merry Christmas the minute Santa is in the air. Our job is to get Santa off the ground, around the world, and then safely home.

Getting Santa off the ground means coordinating all that needs to go with Santa’s sleigh. That would be the sleigh itself, the reindeer, the stuff in Santa’s sack, and, of course, Santa himself.

Santa’s sleigh is redesigned every year and each year Santa flies a brand new sleigh. His interest in doing this is to improve on his flight efficiency. For the past 182 years straight Santa has broken speed records that he set just the year before. Nobody in the world can match that accomplishment in aviation achievement.

That sleigh, once it is constructed, is tested thoroughly for months in advance of Christmas. The North Pole Flight Command Center coordinates those flights and gathers the data for flight analysts and Santa himself to evaluate. Finally, on Christmas Eve day, the sleigh takes one final test flight around the world while Santa and his “A-Team” of reindeer rest and get ready to fly.

When it returns the sleigh is washed and waxed and then it goes through a tedious process of attaching the sleigh bells. Each bell is individually polished, tuned and matched as it is attached to the sleigh. That process has to be timed to be complete just before Santa hitches the reindeer to the sleigh.

In the hours leading up the launch the North Pole Flight Command Center is busy with several tasks. They begin launching air lift support sleighs to strategic locations around the world. These sleighs transport Christmas goods, tracker elves, and repair and maintenance personnel to assigned stations globally. The Flight Command Center also keeps an eye on worldwide weather conditions and commands the legions of elves who track Santa for Santa.

It is a massive effort.

By the time Santa’s launches most departments at the North Pole have completed their work. So they gather at the barnyard to watch Santa take off. There are usually hundreds or even thousands of elves and their families in attendance. Most take pictures or videos of the event. Once Santa has launched, they go to the North Pole Christmas Eve party held at the Claus residence and watch the sleigh-cam on exclusive screens set up there for that purpose.

But the work of the Flight Command Center is only beginning and it doesn’t end until Santa makes a 30-plus hour flight around the world and is safely home.