The 2020 holiday season is different from any we've known before — and that includes Santa. But even a pandemic can’t keep Santa away! We’ve found a variety of Santa experiences to suit a variety of COVID comfort levels — and changing restrictions.
From socially distanced Santa encounters to virtual Santa visits — and a few more creative options — check out our list of ways to visit with St. Nick this season. Even in 2020, you can keep your holiday family tradition going.
This season, The Landing in Renton offers a unique Santa photo opportunity — in a completely virtual and COVID-safe way — now through Dec. 26. Set up a white backdrop at home, dress your kids in their holiday best and then snap a photo. Upload it to the PictureMeSanta website and choose a photo package. PictureMeSanta will Photoshop your kids and Santa into a scene together and email you the results. It's not perfect, but it's not bad if you want to keep your tradition alive. The Landing is offering a discount code: Use SANTATL for $5 off your photo package.
At Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's locations, you can visit Santa in person and get a picture safely with Santa’s Magic Shield (a Plexiglas barrier between Santa and your fam). Reservations are required; you'll get your temperature checked, and you'll need to stay spaced out from other guests while waiting. With your visit, you'll get a free 4x6 photo and shareable video; additional photo packages are available for purchase. Santa is based at area Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's locations in Tacoma, Lacey and Tulalip/Marysville now through Dec. 24. Be sure to make your reservation in advance.
Starting Friday, Nov. 20, stop by Molbak's Garden + Home store in Woodinville to snap a photo with a life-size cutout of ol' St. Nick. One Santa cutout will be set up outside for family photos that include pets, and another cardboard Santa inside for just people. Bring your selfie stick and plan to remove your masks for only an instant to snap your photo.
Arthur & Associates, a longtime provider of family Santa photos, plans to set up shop this year at six local shopping centers. They are Bellevue Square, Lake Forest Park Town Center, University Village in Seattle, Redmond Town Center, Everett Mall and The Commons at Federal Way. Click the linked locations to see and available time slots and the cost of photo packages. You can even pick your Santa too, if you have a favorite.
Book your appointment in advance and plan to follow detailed COVID safety precautions, including wearing masks the entire time and limiting your family group to no more than 5 members. Note you'll be stationed six feet away from Santa for the photos. Most locations are booking appointments beginning the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 27.
In this free virtual experience, kids can tour Santaland at Macy’s Herald Square in New York City. Kids will interact with elves, tour the magical space, play games and end with a virtual chat with Santa. They can even take a selfie with St. Nick. Before beginning the tour, parents can choose a Santa that reflects their family's cultural background. No reservation is needed and this online experience is available Nov. 27–Dec. 24.
Issaquah Commons invites families for COVID-safe photo sessions with Santa Nov. 28–Dec. 24. Families and Santa will both wear masks, and be seated six feet apart for their pics. Make a reservation in advance. For an entirely virtual experience, visit the Issaquah Commons website to book a variety of online Santa encounters, including a Zoom chat, story time or a pet photo with Santa. Virtual encounters are available now through Dec. 24.
Pop by Kirkland Urban’s North Lobby Saturdays, Nov. 28–Dec. 19, for a physically distant photo op with Santa. The event is free but you need to reserve a 5-minute time slot in advance. Santa will be stationed behind a Plexiglas barrier at the top of a set of bleachers. Kids can sit on the bleachers 10 feet away for a picture. Snap a photo with your own phone or camera.
Santa has been perfecting his Zoom skills, with help from the elves. Schedule a 10-minute time slot for up to three kids to do a live virtual chat with Santa. Appointments are available on select dates Nov. 28–Dec. 19. You'll supply some info in advance for a personalized chat with your crew, then you'll receive a recording of the encounter via email afterward.
Santa is setting up shop at Kent Station (in the old Coldwater Creek building) with all his usual festive decorations plus a safety barrier — a Plexiglass door. Book your time slot and pay for your photo package in advance, then families up to six members can take off masks briefly for the photo. All other staff (except Santa, behind the glass) will be masked. Kent Station has improved its air purification, will be sanitizing frequently and promises a 100-percent refund if a member of your fam experiences symptoms and you can't come. Select reservation dates are available beginning Nov. 28–Dec. 23. Be sure to book online in advance.
The North Pole at The Fair has rounded up five different Santa encounter options for your fam this special year. Two of the options are virtual encounters: One is a recorded, personalized video message from Santa to your child (created with insider input from the parents), and the second is a virtual visit between your kids and Santa via live video chat.
The North Pole's three Santa photo options include the two in-person and one entirely virtual. In Magical Santa Photos, they'll snap a photo of your kids on site and Photoshop Santa into it. The second is the "everyone wears a mask" option — Santa, too. The third option is entirely distant. Send in your family photo or a photo of your kids and they'll Photoshop it into a photo of Santa where he's holding your family photo in a frame.
Make a reservation for the video chat, Magical Santa Photo time or masked Santa option. Dates vary; we recommend booking soon. The recorded message from Santa and Santa-holding-your-photo option are entirely remote and don't require a reservation.
Santa, the Experience is a virtual, elf-guided journey through Santa's North Pole campus, including the mailroom, reindeer stables, toy workshop and more. The 10- to 12-minute encounter culminates in a live video chat with Santa himself! Note that the five elves, Mrs. Claus and Santa are all white, as shown on the website preview. Book ahead for time slots available Dec. 1–24, and be aware that sessions get considerably more expensive the closer you get to Christmas.