Running of the Santas

A pub crawl (sometimes called a bar tour, bar crawl or bar-hopping) is the act of one or more people drinking in multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally walking or busing to each one between drinking.

Origin of the term

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term (including variations such as "gin crawl" and "beer crawl" and "bohemian death march") has been in use since the late 19th century.

The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English defines 'pub crawl' as both a noun and a verb, with the noun (dating from 1915) being defined as "a drinking session that moves from one licensed premises to the next, and so on", and the verb (1937) meaning "to move in a group from one drinking establishment to the next, drinking at each." The term is a combination of "pub (a public house, licensed for the sale of alcohol) and a less-and-less figurative sense of crawl".[1]


Many European cities have public pub crawls that act as social gatherings for the local expatriate communities and tourists. These crawls focus on the social aspect of meeting new friends and being introduced to new bars in a strange city.

In the UK, pub crawls are generally unstructured and spontaneous nights-out, in which the participants arrange to meet in a particular location and decide over drinks on where to drink next. Structured routes with regular stops are rare. Most drinking sessions based around a special occasion such as a birthday or a leaving celebration will involve a pub-crawl, often with the group splitting up but agreeing on meeting at the next location. It is a common sight in UK towns to see several groups orbiting the various drinking locations with little apparent coherence or structure.

In the North of Spain, around the Basque Country, the tradition for groups of male friends crawling pubs and drinking a short glass of wine at each pub, and often singing traditional songs, is known as txikiteo or chiquiteo, and can be held at night or day. By the end of the 20th century, it was extended also to women, and when it involves a wider variety of drinks, it is more often called poteo.[2] [3]

Pub Crawls for a Cause

The Winter Ghent Bar Tour, self-dubbed as America's most charitable pub crawl, is hosted by Ghent Bar Tours in the historic Ghent neighborhood of midtown Norfolk, Virginia. First held in 2006, this annual fundraiser occurs during the last Saturday of February. Each year, the event donates 100% of its proceeds to a local Hampton Roads non-profit organization and operates on an all-volunteer staff. Most recently, the 2012 Winter Ghent Bar Tour had over 1000 participants and donated $22,250 to Edmarc Hospice for Children, a Portsmouth, Virginia organization that provides support to children with life-threatening illnesses.[4][5]

The Beacon New York pub crawl attracts around 3000 people from all over New York. Proceeds from the sale of wrist bands goes to families-in-need.

On the Saturday leading up to St. Patrick's Day March 17 for 14 years is one of the most popular pub crawls in Chicago. The pub crawl typically starts around 9am in Wrigleyville neighborhood and takes participants through the Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods.

Since 2009, Chicagoans have also set out to take a stance against terrible fashion trends by participating in the "Double Denim Bar Crawl," or the DDBC. Crawlers meander around Wrigleyville Neighborhood bars dressed in a minimum of two articles of Denim. Much like an 80s theme party, the DDBC explores the hilarity of acid-washed jean jackets and shorts.

World's biggest pub crawl

The World's Greatest Pub Fest, held annually in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia, holds the Guinness World Record for the largest pub crawl. The World's Greatest Pub Crawl, as it was then known, set the official record of 4,718 participants, on June 14, 2009.[6] Maryborough, a city of 26,000, three hours north of Brisbane, is home to 17 hotels. The World's Greatest Pub Crawl began in 2005 and has broken the Guinness World Record each year since then, although on occasions the record has been beaten between events. The World's Greatest Pub Fest, as it became in 2010, is held on the Sunday of the June Queen's Birthday long weekend. Charity is a major focus of the crawl, with proceeds of the 2010 blue-themed event going to prostate cancer causes. It has been presumed that bad weather may have prevented the city from re-breaking its record on June 13, 2010. Numbers will not be official for weeks or potentially months.

The Adelaide University Engineering Society (AUES) holds an annual pub crawl attracting students from all over South Australia to as many as 34 local pubs and clubs. The AUES's 2013 pub crawl is currently being assessed by Guinness as the largest pub crawl by participants or by participants wearing identical themed shirts. In March 2012, they sold 4000 "2012 The Alcopocalypse" T-shirts. For their event on the 23rd of March 2012. On the 22nd of March 2013, their "Boozing Bad" pub crawl sold 5127 shirts. [7]

On October 9, 2010 London tried attempting to break Maryborough's Guinness World Record with an event called World Record Pub Crawl 2010. Organizers were expecting 5,000+ people. Due to problems with local authorities, the event was cancelled.[8]

In Charlotte, North Carolina there is a yearly pub crawl on Saint Patrick's Day. In 2012 the pub crawl had more than 15,000 participants roughly 6000 more than the previous year which had 8987. Making this pub crawl the largest in the world.[9][10]

Annually in London, thousands of New Zealanders take part in the Waitangi Day pub crawl, a crawl around the Circle Line on the London Underground. Starting at Paddington they work counter-clockwise around the line, usually ending at Westminster for a haka (traditional New Zealand challenge/dance) and then many continue on to the Temple Walkabout bar. While numbers vary depending on the weather, in 2008 there were reported to be around 12,000 people involved.[11]

In 2010, The Twelve Bars of Christmas in Chicago hosted 10,000 patrons, becoming the biggest Christmas pub Crawl on record.

Other notable pub crawls

Running A Tab Pub Run takes place monthly in San Antonio, TX and is hosted by WeRunSanAntonio.[12] The original Running A Tab Pub Run covered 5 miles in downtown San Antonio. The starting point was the historic Sunset Station and finished at the Blue Star Brewery and Art Complex. The event is held in conjunction with San Antonio's First Friday Art Walk. In 2009 the route was modified to accommodate the more than 500 participants every month. Running A Tab now consists of a 3 mile downtown loop and 5 bars/restaurants. A theme is selected every month and participants dress in costume in accordance with the theme. The event is free and open to the public.[13]

Gator Stompin' takes place annually in Gainesville, Florida, home of the University of Florida. This event, which occurs throughout midtown and downtown, has been a Gainesville tradition for over 29 years. The bar crawl consists of over 50 bars and includes multiple prizes that entrants can win and currently attempts to set the world record for the largest bar crawl in the world.[14]

Northgate[15] Olympics is pub crawl that is held in the Northgate district of College Station each semester at the conclusion of finals at Texas A&M University. Students compete in teams of 8 and must finish specific alcohol-related challenges at each bar on the list. This event is not sanctioned by the university.

In Iceland, a "runtur" is a popular way of getting to know the bars and beers in the area during the celebration of Beer Day every year on March 1—many bars and nightclubs are open until 4:00 a.m.[16] Beacon NY also had a pub crawl,for the last 12 years. Last years attendance was estimitated at 5000.

Notable pub crawls in the UK include the Otley Run, Hillsborough Street, and the Mumbles. The circular underground train line in Glasgow allows for a variation on the pub-crawl known as the sub-crawl or "clockwork orange". This involves the purchase of an all day ticket for the subway and consuming a drink at the nearest bar to each of the fifteen stops on the route.

In Milwaukee the Shamrock Shuffle formerly known as the Shamrock Stumble brought in over 3,000 participants the last 2 years, which always takes place the weekend before St. Patrick's Day.

Fall Crawl takes places annually in Clemson, South Carolina. The event has over 1500 participants each year and is the largest pub crawl in South Carolina.

The Manly Man Pub Crawl is a bi-annual event, originating in Cheltenham, England and taking place over a 12 hour period in February and September. Now in its tenth incarnation, the event attracts hundreds of past and present alumni of the University of Gloucestershire, who compete in a variety of team tasks and challenges throughout the day, with a different one staged at each locale.

The City of Quebec now has its own pub crawl.[17] The two proposed routes take place in the Old Quebec, the historic part of the city. They run all summer long for tourists and locals to enjoy.


The MADride Pub Crawl in Madrid, Spain was the first of its kind. Meeting at the famous landmark Oso y Madroño (bear and strawberry-tree sculpture) in the center of the city every night at 11PM, they take tourists and locals alike to discover the Madrid nightlife.

The Glasgow Subway "sub crawl" requires participants to drink from a pub near each of the 15 stations on the circular route. Two similar events are the Circle Line Pub Crawl involving London's Circle Line (attracting expatriate New Zealanders on Waitangi Day) and the Metro Pub Crawl from Birmingham to Wolverhampton on the Midland Metro. Glaswegians also get to enjoy the Thirst Bus which takes revellers from the city centre to the east end and back with frequent visits to licensed premises along the route.

Pub crawls need not be officially organized events. Pub crawls, such as the Louisville, Kentucky "Bambi Walk", can be undertaken by friends when the desire strikes. According to Stuff,[18] the "Bambi Walk" has been crawled, unorganized, since the 1980s.

The Buenos Aires Pub Crawl is the biggest Organized Pub Crawl in South America, operating seven nights a week in 4 different neighborhoods and involving groups of between 15 and 250 pub crawlers. There are also sister Pub Crawl's in Santiago and Vina Del Mar, Chile also in Rio, Brazil.

Minneapolis, Minnesota started a zombie-themed pub crawl in 2005 that has become an annual tradition which has grown to over 30,000 participants in 2012 and garnering the Guinness world record for largest gathering of zombies that same year.[19] Zombie pub crawls can be seen as a combination of the pub crawl and zombie walk traditions. During a zombie pub crawl participants wear zombie costumes and shuffle from bar to bar imitating the living dead. Following Minnesota's lead, zombie-themed pub crawls have now spread to multiple cities including Philadelphia, Chicago, Columbus,Ohio, and Washington DC.

Edinburgh's Rose Street is well-known locally and beyond as the city's legendary pub-crawl venue. Situated one street behind Edinburgh's world-famous Princes Street, Rose Street occupies four relatively short blocks nowadays boasting 18 pubs. In the 1970s, there were 28 pubs. The pubs' close proximity to each other in this part-pedestrianised street makes pub-crawling very accessible. Not only popular with young local men, the street has become a shrine to many visiting rugby and football fans wanting to rise to the challenge of this Everest of alcohol consumption. The Rose Street pub crawl, known as the Rose Street Challenge, is not an organized event, but is a year-round, self-imposed challenge to attempt to drink alcohol in every pub / licensed hostelry in the street. There is no prize other than the pride of personal or group achievement.

Recently there have been many Asia pub crawls popping up in various major cities. All following the same basic premise of a the pub crawl. I.e. bar hopping, drinking, socializing, making new friends. Some notables parties are the Shanghai Pub Crawl, Tokyo Pub Crawl, The Singapore Pub Crawl, and various other major metropolises around Asia.

Monopoly Board Pub Crawl

A Monopoly pub crawl[20] is a pub crawl involving the visiting of public houses on each of the streets of a city which appear on that city's version of the Monopoly game board. They can be completed in the order the game squares appear, or re-arranged for easier movement, although the latter is usually easier and is therefore not as well-regarded.[21]

Santa Claus theme

In Wollongong, Australia, a Santa Claus Crawl occurs each December to raise donations of children's toys for local charities. The Santa Claus Pub Crawl 2007 dressed in Santa Claus costumes thronging roads and pubs.[22] In 2009, the pub crawl set a new attendance record, with between 2500 to 3000 Santa Clauses, elves, and other costumed revelers joining the annual event, raising around A$15,000 in cash and A$40–50,000 in donated toys for the Salvation Army, and making the event now the largest of its type in the world.[23] In 2010 the event attracted over 4000 people growing steadily through social media.

In Brisbane, Australia, the Christmas Pub Crawl runs each year on the first Saturday following the end of the school year in December. This event has been running annually since 1982 and is, in the words of the founders, "the world's longest running pub crawl".[24] The revellers, who attempt to sing Christmas Carols and other standards, such as the popular "Delilah", don Santa hats and are encouraged to wear Hawaiian shirts. The event commences at the Roma Street Transit Centre Bar, winds its way through several pubs, then, as patrons become a little more cheerful, a Conga line is formed, ending at the Queen Street Mall. Here, to the bemusement and sometimes delight of tourists, a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas is attempted with gusto, before several more pubs on the intinerary are infiltrated.

In the United States, The Running of the Santas is a December event in which some Americans dress as Santa Claus and venture from bar to bar consuming alcoholic beverages. American cities have staged such Runnings but not with universal approval. In 2008, for example, the Boston Herald commented on Boston's scheduled Running: "Scores of beer-sodden, booze-soaked pub crawlers dressed up like St. Nick plan to hit the Hub's streets during tomorrow's "Running of the Santas" - an annual, nationwide drinkfest that has infuriated parents and watchdog groups. "Santa Claus is a treasured icon for children," said Eric Helmuth, spokesman for Join Together, a Boston University health group that is fighting the jolly pub crawl. Helmuth said he's concerned about the effect on kids who see "Santa careening through the streets drinking or going from pub to pub."[25] The international SantaCon is another event that sees seasonal crawls.

See also


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