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Our Long National Nightmare of Santa Bar Crawls Marches On

Philadelphia will suffer no shortage of drunken mobs donning Santa suits this year.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

While some communities have had the good sense to ban pub-crawling Santa impostors, the proud tradition of donning fur-trimmed red suits and generally mucking things up for all normal residents looking to get a normal level of drunk plows ahead here in Philly.

This year, we've counted no fewer than five Santa bar crawls, with three of them happening on the same day — Saturday, December 20. (Eater recommends you start planning now for the Barricading Yourself in Your House-themed party you'll be throwing on December 20.)

On that day, would-be blackout-drunk Clauses can choose from the notorious SantaCon, this Bad Santa Bar Crawl that kicks off at Tavern on Broad, or (one of) the Running of the Santas, which typically hits spots including Chickie's and Pete's, Mad River, and Xfinity Live.

Confusingly, the other Running of the Santas — which is significantly larger and bills itself as "the world's naughtiest pub crawl" — is happening one week earlier, on December 13. That one starts at 9 a.m. at and around McFadden's, with such time-honored traditions as the Hottest Santa Contest. In the afternoon, the mob will take to the streets to run to the crawl's other major venue, the Electric Factory. There, organizers promise a hellish nightmarescape of "over 8,000 Santas," but also drink specials and a guest appearance by the frontman of '90s one-album-wonder Live.

That said, if the spirit of Christmas compels you to crawl, there is one relatively sane alternative: East Passyunk's "Spirits and Suds With Santa" bar crawl, which is scheduled for Wednesday, December 10. The Avenue's holiday pub crawls (for Halloween, they do something similar, but witchy) are typically a fair bit more civilized, and you'll hit some quality bars and restaurants including the P.O.P.E., Brigantessa, and Stogie Joe's. Your $5 admission nets you a Santa hat, and you need not take the costuming any further than that.

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