Santa Claus is most certainly coming to town but the countdown to his arrival is no longer confined to those exciting hours of Christmas Eve.
Now, the build-up starts at the beginning of December, all thanks to the Google Santa Tracker.
What do you mean you haven’t been actively following the big man’s movements online since 1 December?
If you’re one of those people, here’s what you need to know about the Google Santa Tracker and the new features for this year.
What is Google’s Santa Tracker?
The Google Santa Tracker launched back in 2004 as a fun way to combine the powers of Google Earth with the magic of Christmas.
Originally, the Santa Tracker started on Christmas Eve, and allowed anyone across the globe to see where Santa was on his mammoth trip delivering presents around the globe.
Now, the website has taken on a life of its own. There’s a countdown until Christmas Eve, games, teachable moments and some quizzes.
What are the new features this year?
Google Santa Tracker is now available throughout the whole of December because of a hot-cocoa-powered heating system which means the village no longer takes a whole month to thaw. Now, you can explore the different activities in the village to keep you busy up until December 24.
As well, the Santa Village has gone full throttle on education this year. There’s a new feature full of games for the classroom, including a Code Lab lesson where children learn to code by navigating an elf through the forest to find dropped presents.
There’s another coding feature about creating snowflakes and a map quiz of all the places Santa will travel to.
You can also learn about different festive traditions across the world.
How to make elves and track Santa
What is Christmas without some elf appearances? That’s why Google Santa Tracker as an Elf Maker feature so you can design your own elf to look just like you. Choose a colour for the elf suit, decide whether to have a matching bow or scarf, and customise the elf's hair too.
Then, take a snap of your elf and get sharing on social.
If you want to track Santa though, at the moment he will just be in his house at the North Pole. You’ll have to wait for a few weeks before you can see some action.
How to get the Santa Tracker app
For more games and fun, you can download the Santa Tracker app on the Google Play Store. For now try out the Present Toss game, Penguin Swim or even a snowball game, and when Santa starts delivering presents, you’ll be able to follow his movements on the app.
Ask the Google Assistant
If you have a Google Home, you can chat to the Assistant about what Santa’s up to. As it gets closer to the big day, ask Google “where is Santa” and see what it brings up.
Google can also tell you a holiday story too. to help keep little children occupied for a while.