Parkrun on Christmas Day: Run With 1000+ Other Santas

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By Stuart

Avid runner. 10x marathons. Daily 10kms. Award-winning journalist when not moving (about me)

I’m not alone in declaring my enduring love of the weekly parkrun. But did you know there’s two bonus parkruns a year?

The parkrun on Christmas Day (25th December) and another parkrun on New Year’s Day (1st January). Parkrun on Christmas Day has become a beloved tradition for many families. Mine included.

While most people spend the morning unwrapping presents or preparing for a big meal, parkrunners lace up their shoes and head to their local parkrun event. Complete with (optional) fancy dress, be it reindeer antlers or full on Santa outfit. As an experience and spectacle, it’s fast-become one of my favourite runs of the year.

In this article we’ll look at:

How to Tell if Your Local parkrun is on Christmas Day

There’s no universal rule here, it all depends on how active your usual parkrun event organisers and volunteers are.

Visit the special events page on the official parkrun website to check if your parkrun event is running on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

What to Expect on Christmas Day parkrun

York parkrun on Christmas Day with runners in Santa fancy dress
York parkrun on Christmas Day with runners in Santa fancy dress

The parkrun concept is simple: meet at one of 2,000 parkrun events in 22 countries across 6 continents, at 9am on Saturday, and walk, jog or run your way to 5km with like-minded souls.

Parkrun events are free to attended, although first timers are generally encouraged to register with parkrun before their maiden run in order to get a unique barcode and log race times. Don’t forget to bring it with you on christmas morning and to pay attention to the briefing.

Parkrunners only compete with themselves and can take part however they please – walk, jog, run, volunteer, or support from the sidelines.

Christmas parkrun is the same community spirit amplified many times over.

At least 50% of people are dressed up. 100% are happy to be out and off work on the big day.

And because people are often visiting family, it’s a much busier event than normal. Given the time of year, it can also be a bit wetter and icier. 

Because of this, times can often be on the slower side, but speed isn’t always everything as parkrun itself has ditched speed records on its website.

What better way to start the day and build up an appetite!

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Some Practical Tips for Running in Winter

Running’s beauty is it’s a year-round sport. Winter runs are also the most rewarding.

That said, the cold can sap motivation and create unwanted hazards.

Here’s a few ways you can stay safe and max out enjoyment levels for those cold weather parkruns:

  • Leave plenty of time to get there
  • Warm up before running in colder temperatures
  • Learn how to spot icy patches
  • Don’t be afraid to sidestep ice and puddles on to grass
  • Stay hydrated when running in the cold
  • Wear more layers and consider running shoes with deeper lugs
  • Keep your hands free in case you slip
  • Slow down and take it all in
  • Pre-plan the best coffee shop for a post-run pick-me-up
  • Don’t forget your original motivation for running

Related Reading: 10 Expert Tips for Running in the Cold

Related Reading: 10 Tips for Running in the Snow

The Tradition of parkrun on Christmas Day

The ritual of parkrun on Christmas Day started in 2004 thanks to Bushy parkrun. Since then, parkrunners all over the UK have embraced this tradition, and it has become an important part of the parkrun calendar.

One of the reasons why parkrun on Christmas Day is so special is that it is one of only two days in the year when parkrun events take place outside of Saturday mornings. The other day is New Year’s Day, and many parkrunners take part in a “double” by running two parkruns on this day.

The festive spirit is in full swing on Christmas Day parkruns, with many participants wearing Santa hats, tinsel, and other Christmas-themed outfits. It’s a great way to balance out the over-indulgence and get into the Christmas spirit.

What if Xmas Day is on a Friday or Sunday?

This happened last year on Friday 25th December 2022.

It meant parkrunners were in luck as the usual Saturday one still takes place and there’s an extra parkrun on christmas day.

The Fun Isn’t Over – Don’t Forget parkrun on New Years Day

Fountains Abbey parkrun - runners waiting at the start line overlooking the abbey ruins
Fountains Abbey parkrun start line

Completing parkrun’s Christmas Compendium involves both the Xmas and New Year’s Day runs.

It’s the usual time and drill so I won’t repeat the specifics, just remember to double-check your local parkrun is hosting the event on the first day of the year.

Finally, Thank You to the Christmas parkrun Volunteers

Another important aspect of parkrun is the emphasis on volunteering. Without volunteers, parkrun events simply wouldn’t be possible. There are a variety of roles available, from marshaling to timekeeping to handing out finish tokens and keeping an eye on property left at the finish line. Everybody is made to feel welcome and there’s a real family feel to the festive parkruns.

It’s no wonder many people consider it to be the best parkrun of the year.

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