We thought we’d round off a busy year of work with the important question of visualising where Santa can park his sleigh on Christmas night.

In 2018 we built Park My Spaceship to answer my son’s question about how big a Star Destroyer was in Star Wars. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier - but can we do the same with Santa and his sleigh?

First off we need to answer the question of how big Santa’s sleigh is.

The reindeer are relatively straightforward - in modern times it’s generally agreed that there’s nine reindeer. The eight “traditional” reindeer Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen led by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Reindeer vary in length from 1.2m-2.2m so we erred on larger reindeers (it is a lot of presents after all) at 2 metres in length. The harnesses between the reindeer were tricky as there’s very little information about this, so we went for 1 metre harnesses, because in most illustrations the reindeers are shown as being harnessed relatively closely together.

So 4 rows of 2 reindeer led by Rudolph equals 12 metres of reindeers and harnesses.

Now for the size of the sleigh itself - which isn’t well documented. In general Santa’s sleigh is either shown around the size of one car, or two cars. We went for the larger size at 9 metres - around the length of two cars.

In total we’ve came up with a 21 metre long reindeer / sleigh configuration. Once handed over to Lillian - our talented digital illustrator - Santa and his sleigh look like this:

Using Park My Spaceship anyone can position Santa and his sleigh anywhere on Earth. Like here, getting stopped by the police in London.

In our current visualisation Santa’s sack would fit in the back of a van, but if he was carrying presents for everyone wouldn’t it have to be a whole lot larger?

The general theory is that Santa's sack is a multi-dimensional portal or magic bag with an internal carrying capacity many times its external size. But what if it’s just a normal sack containing presents for everyone in the world?

To calculate the volume of the sack we need to work out an average present size multiplied by the population of the world.

Completely arbitrarily I decided to go for a 15cm cube for the present size. Multiplying this by 7.753 billion people gives a volume of 26,166,375 cubic metres, which is a lot.

Modelling this volume to a globe shape and giving the presents a bit of space we decided that if Santa’s sack was holding presents for everyone it would have a diameter of approximately 380 metres.

Adding this to Park My Spaceship squashes London under a mountain of presents:

So there you have it - Santa, his sleigh and his theoretically massive pile of presents visualised anywhere in the world.

I love digital development and data visualisation.


Note: The banner image is of Santa parked outside Mariah Carey's mansion in Beverley Hills. This is in honour of our developer Casey, who got to listen to "All I Want For Christmas Is You" many many times over the weekend. Casey is currently working on "Festive Mode" to add even more festive ambience to Park My Spaceship.

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