Joyful Santas dash to kick-start Christmas magic in Liverpool

A sea of 5,000 red, blue and mini Santas took to the streets of Liverpool last weekend for the return of the UK’s biggest festive 5K fun run.

The Appreciate Group Liverpool Santa Dash marked the return of the festive spectacular, which was staged virtually last year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Highly regarded as Liverpool’s kick-start to Christmas, participants pulled on their Santa suits on Sunday (5 December) to be part of the 18th consecutive event and experience the dash in real-life once again.

Santas gathered at Pier Head Liverpool and were welcomed by special guests including the Lord Mayor Of Liverpool, Councillor Mary Rasmussen, and In Demand Radio DJ Lee Butler.

Guest of honour was four-year-old Alder Hey patient Betty from Warrington. She was given the all-important job of officially starting the fun run with Alder Hey Charity Champion Liverpool Football Club legend Jamie Carragher.

The accessible event attracted Santas walking, jogging, running, wheelchair participants, tiny Santas in prams, and even four-legged furry Santas.

This year’s Liverpool Santa Dash was supported by headline partner Liverpool-based Appreciate Group; event charity Alder Hey Children’s Charity; media partner In Demand Radio; pop-up shop hosts St Johns Shopping Centre; and Arriva North West who offered participants free bus travel on Santa Dash day.

The Liverpool Santa Dash was created by BTR Race Director Alan Rothwell and was first staged in 2004. A separate 1K Mini Dash for under 12s was added in 2007, and blue Santa suits were introduced in 2010.

BTR Liverpool is the leading independent organisation for creating, managing and delivering headline race events across Liverpool City Region.

BTR Race Director Alan Rothwell explained, “What an extremely special day. You could feel the real sense of excitement, occasion, and pure joy. The sights you see really are priceless. Betty and her family thoroughly enjoyed the day, they were beaming and it was wonderful to see. We’d like to thank our partners, volunteers and every Santa who took part – and we’ll see you on Sunday 4 December 2022 to do it all again!”

The BTR team extended a huge thank you to volunteer groups who helped on the day – Everton in the Community; Good Gym Liverpool; LFC Foundation; North West Air Ambulance; and 4 Coy Merseyside Army Cadet Force, comprising of cadets from Allerton, Aigburth, Deysbrook, Old Swan, Anfield, and Knotty Ash.

The event’s official charity Alder Hey recently launched its £2.5million Surgical Neonatal Appeal. It is being championed by LFC legend Jamie Carragher, who spent the first six weeks of his own life in Alder Hey’s neonatal ward.

Special guest Betty was born premature at just 23 weeks and spent the first 13 months of her life at Alder Hey. She is still receiving care from Alder Hey. Betty was joined on stage by Mum Karen, while Dad Phil and brother Stanley pulled on their festive attire to take part.

Betty’s Mum Karen said, “We all had a fabulous time. Betty loved being the special guest and we were honoured to start the Liverpool Santa Dash as ambassadors for the wonderful Alder Hey Children’s Charity. Phil and Stanley ran their first 5K and loved it. The atmosphere was amazing and the whole experience was a great start to the festive season. We are thrilled to have also raised funds for Alder Hey while having such an enjoyable day.”

Andy Hammerton, Head of Corporate Affairs for Appreciate Group, added, “It was fantastic to see such a brilliant turn-out as thousands of runners dressed in red and blue hit the streets of Liverpool for this year’s world-famous Santa Dash. The Santas were delighted to see the event return, with many championing causes close to their hearts. As a company based in the region for more than half a century, we’re passionate about helping create joy within our community, and we’re delighted this event appears to have done just that.”

Lee Butler from In Demand Radio added, “We absolutely loved being part of the Appreciate Group Liverpool Santa Dash 2021, what an incredible day. It was amazing to see so many people come together after a challenging 18 months. The team were delighted to be involved, and we’re looking forward to many more events together in the future.”

Santas began their 5K fun run at Pier Head Liverpool before making their way through Grade I Listed Royal Albert Dock Liverpool. They then headed though the city centre before crossing the finish line at Liverpool Town Hall where they were greeted by stilt walking festive characters and ‘real’ snow, before a finale by Liverpool drumming band Katumba.

The main dash was followed by the 1K Mini Dash, which featured 500 youngsters aged 12 and under.

Sean Morrison, Estate Manager of Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, said, “It was fantastic to once again see thousands of Santas run through the Dock for the return of the spectacular Santa Dash. It’s exciting to be part of such a popular, family friendly event that really kick-starts Christmas in the city.”

The official Alder Hey Santa Dash online fundraising page currently stands at £10,000. Donations can still be made by visiting

The Liverpool Santa Dash registration fee covers all costs to organise and deliver the event including road closures, safety measures, Santa suits, medals, goody bags, and entertainment.

Entries for next year’s Liverpool Santa Dash are open now with an early bird price until 31 December 2021.

Next in the BTR event portfolio is the 29th annual BTR Liverpool Skyline Half Marathon and 10 Mile Road Race on 27 March 2022. Entries are open now.

Main image: Paul Francis Cooper

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