It is a well known fact that Santa Claus lives and works at the North Pole, or at least somewhere nearby. But where does jolly old St. Nick begin his annual Christmas Eve journey around the world? In Central Asia, according to the Kyrgyzstan national tourism bureau. This relatively recent development, loosely based on an idea by a Swedish company, places Santa’s most practical starting point, from a travel perspective, in the mountains near Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. Local Kyrgyzstanis have jumped on this discovery, and donated a local mountain to Santa for his personal use during the holidays.
Way back in 2007, the Swedish engineering company Sweco did a light-hearted study designed to lay out the most efficient route for Santa Claus to take on his annual world tour. The study, which apparently did make use of advanced algorithms used to streamline shipping routes, identified the country of Kyrgyzstan as the optimal starting point. Interestingly, officials of Kyrgyzstan’s tourism industry seized on the idea, and immediately set about finding ways of promoting their country as a Santa Claus destination.
On Christmas Eve, 2007, mountaineers from Bishkek set out to climb a peak in the nearby Tien Shan Mountains. Upon reaching the summit, they planted a flag of Kyrgyzstan and christened the mountain ‘Santa Claus Peak’ as free-roaming yaks looked on (the naming of mountains is a local tradition; ironically, Vladimir Lenin Mountain is not too far away). Santa Claus Peak is now the unofficially recognized starting line for St. Nicholas’ annual race around the world.
Santa Claus Mountain can be found a few miles outside of the city of Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, about two hundred miles east of Tashkent in Uzbekistan. It is an open site. A Santa Claus festival was held on December 30, featuring a large gathering of Santas from all over the world in many costumes. Organizers hope to make this an annual event. As of this writing no other tourism information was available. Web: N/A