Most Christmas traditions are as old as Christmas itself—singing carols, decorating a tree, arguing with family. It takes something special to forge a new tradition, but Christmas Day parkrun has become a cornerstone of 25 December for many people.
Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are the only two days of the year where parkrun stages events outside its normal Saturday morning berth. That means those who have a 100, 250 or even 500 parkrun club T-shirt in their sights can notch two extra parkruns in the space of a week. The rest of us just get the chance to start Christmas Day or the new year in the best way—by running or walking 5K.
I have run parkrun on Christmas Day in the past and the already excellent parkrun atmosphere is even better on the day. Many runners dress up and everyone is in a fantastic, festive mood. As someone with two kids I plan on doing parkrun this year to break up the manic levels of excitement surrounding presents in the morning, and get the older one outside to blow off steam by running around in the park even though she’s not old enough to do the actual parkrun yet.
Not all parkruns have a Christmas and/or New Year’s Day event, however. It’s not easy to get volunteers to put on the event on those days, especially in 2023 when both fall on Mondays, just two days after many of those volunteers have helped put on the normal Saturday parkrun.
To find out if your local parkrun has an event on, head to the Special Events section of the parkrun website. There you can see all the parkruns that have declared one way or the other—a green tick means a special event is on, a red cross means no extra parkrun. Many parkruns don’t decide until late in December, so a blank box means they haven’t made the call yet.
If you’re traveling to see family or friends at Christmas and see that a local parkrun is on then make sure you check the start time, because these vary around the UK depending on how late the sun comes up. If you’re heading to Scotland for Christmas you can expect a 9.30am start, for example, whereas London parkruns routinely set off at 9am.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.