Liverpool was transformed into a sea of red, blue, and mini Santas last weekend for the milestone 20th staging of the BTR Liverpool Santa Dash.
A staggering 6,100 dashing Santas took part in the festive spectacular, with many regarding the event as the real kick-start to Christmas in the city. This year’s turn-out was the biggest group of dashing Santas since 2018.
The event took place on Sunday 3 December – and is believed to be the UK’s biggest festive 5K fun run.
As well as Santas from the North West region, others had travelled across the country to take part, as well as those visiting from Australia, Bangkok, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and Spain.
The very first Liverpool Santa Dash took place in 2004. It was created by BTR Liverpool Race Director Alan Rothwell. BTR Liverpool is the leading independent organisation for creating, managing, and delivering headline running events across Liverpool City Region
Over two decades, the event has continued to evolve. In 2007, the 1K Mini Dash for youngsters aged 12 and under was added to the day, while blue Santa suits were introduced in 2010 due to public demand.
In 2018, the 5K route was changed to include the Grade I Listed Royal Albert Dock Liverpool estate following the demolition of the Churchill Flyover in Liverpool city centre. The waterfront attraction has played a vital part on the day ever since.
Entries are open for next year’s event on Sunday 1 December. Blue Santa places are limited – register at: https://www.btrliverpool.com/santa-dash-event
The Liverpool Santa Dash entry fee covers all costs to organise and deliver the event including road closures, safety measures, Santa suits, medals, goody bags, and entertainment.
This year’s official charity partner was Alder Hey Children’s Charity, with Radio City as media partner. Supporting partners were St Johns Shopping Centre, Arriva North West, and Royal Albert Dock Liverpool.
The main 5K Santa Dash started at Pier Head Liverpool, before taking Santas through Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, and round the city centre. Before a grandstand finish outside Liverpool Town Hall – complete with stilt-walking festive characters and ‘real’ snow.
It was followed by the 1K Mini Dash, which started in Castle Street and shared the same Dale Street finish line.
The day’s special guest was Alder Hey patient Lincoln, aged five from St Helens. The youngster has undergone open-heart surgeries at Alder Hey. His infectious enthusiasm and positivity made him shine – and he was chosen to represent the charity at the event.
Lincoln was given the honour of officially starting the Santa Dash – and was joined on stage by his family Mum Tanya, Dad Mathew, and brothers Deacon, Mac, and Jaxon. Lincoln later took part in the 1K Mini Dash, supported by Alder Hey mascot Oli the elephant who ran in the main dash.
Alder Hey Children’s Charity’s aim is to deliver a fun-filled and positive experience for families, often at the toughest times, by raising money for innovative projects and creative activities.
Thanks to generous donations, the charity has proudly pioneered life-saving treatments and provided comfort for young patients and their families. Funds raised will support its work to transform young lives through state-of-the-art equipment, facilities, and ground-breaking medical research.
Monies have already passed £16,000 for Alder Hey’s Santa Dash fundraising campaign. Donations can still be made through the charity’s official giving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/santadashah23
Ahead of his guest of honour duties, Santa Dash organisers BTR Liverpool arranged for Lincoln to visit St Helens Community Fire Station to meet the crew. He was given the full fire station experience – being shown round the fire engine, shooting water, trying on a fire helmet, and a ride in the engine. The crew also presented him with his very own large toy fire engine to take home, T-shirt and baseball cap.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service firefighters and non-operational staff have been taking part in the BTR Liverpool Santa Dash since 2007.
This year a team of 100 Santas – including Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan – represented the organisation to support the ethos of health and wellbeing while supporting the community event. This is the largest group they have ever had taking part.
Radio City Breakfast Show presenters Leanne and Scott welcomed Santas to both events. Leanne also took part in the main Santa Dash with a team who applied through the radio station called Leg It With Leanne.
Guests also included the Deputy Lord Mayor Of Liverpool Councillor Richard Kemp, who was supporting his wife Erica in the main dash; and original Big Brother winner Craig Phillips, wife Laura, and two children.
For five weeks, Santas have visited the Santa Dash pop-up shop at St Johns Shopping Centre to sign up and collect their Santa suits. The shopping centre has supported the event since 2017, and this year a team of 20 took part.
Arriva North West supported the event for the sixth time with free bus travel across Merseyside on Santa Dash day – both travelling to and from the event.
Other highlights on the day included a first time appearance for Rock Choir Liverpool, who performed as Santas ran into Royal Albert Dock Liverpool before they headed to the finish line to entertain Santas in Water Street.
Liverpool drumming band Katumba once again wowed Santas and spectators with their performance on Dale Street, before a grand finale to bring the event to a rousing close once all the mini Santas had completed the course.
Volunteer teams also play a big role on the day, with thanks being extended to Everton in the Community, Goodgym Liverpool, North West Air Ambulance, as well cadets from 4 Coy Merseyside Army Cadets from units in Allerton, Aigburth, Norris Green, and Old Swan.
The BTR Liverpool Santa Dash is an accessible event open to everyone, from those running purely for fun to groups of fundraisers. The event acts as a platform for community groups, businesses, and charities to fundraise independently while taking part.
Santas walk, jog, or run alongside wheelchair participants, families, groups of friends or colleagues – even tiny Santas in prams and four-legged furry Santas.
The BTR event portfolio runs throughout the year and also includes the 52-mile Tour Of Merseyside, Liverpool Half Marathon, and Mersey Tunnel 10K. Its extensive portfolio covers various distances across different terrains, all with an ongoing commitment to sustainability.
BTR Liverpool Race Director Alan Rothwell commented: “When I visited a Santa run in Newtown in Wales in 2003, I was captivated by what saw – and just knew this was something Liverpool really needed. Fast forward 20 years, and after plenty of hard work and dedication, Liverpool now has the biggest festive 5K fun run in the UK.
“This year’s milestone event brought together 6,100 red, blue, and mini Santas for the most magical day to kick-start the city’s festivities. It’s a day really like no other – the sight of thousands of Santas gathering under the gaze of the Liver Birds on the banks of the River Mersey is now iconic.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with our partners Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Radio City, St Johns Shopping Centre, Arriva North West, and Royal Albert Dock Liverpool. The BTR team would also like to say a huge thank you to every Santa who made the day so special. Have a great Christmas and we’ll see you on 1 December 2024.”
Next up in the BTR event calendar is the 30th anniversary BTR Liverpool Half Marathon and 10 Mile Road Race on Sunday 17 March 2024.
Details about the BTR event portfolio can be found at: www.btrliverpool.com
From the archives: The Liverpool Santa Dash is back this weekend.