Santa speaks to a boy at his residence in the North Pole ahead of his busiest night of the year. Clearance has been granted for a sleigh pulled by up to nine reindeer to enter Irish airspace later tonight. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters.
The Irish Air Corps is on standby to assist Santa if needed after official clearance was given for a sleigh powered by nine reindeer to enter Irish airspace for Christmas.
The North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) has been tracking Santa’s movements as he makes his way across the globe. In recent years Norad’s advanced technology has been relied upon by parents, children and members of the media to track the journey around the world. His progress can be tracked here.
At about 12.40pm, Santa had been seen as far west as Micronesia and had already delivered some 500 million presents to boys and girls.
Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) had granted permission for Santa Claus, a team of nine reindeer and a flying sleigh to enter Irish space on Christmas Eve.
“I am informed by the IAA that it has been told that a very large man with a white beard and bright red suit will be operating a low-flying sleigh with eight reindeer being led by one with a big red nose,” he said.
“Children are being encouraged to be ever better behaved than normal and to make sure they snuggle up in bed early after washing their faces and brushing their teeth early tomorrow evening.”
The Irish Air Corps said Santa’s advance party of Elves will be aboard the Initial Santa Sleigh (ISS) that will pass over Ireland at 5.20pm to make a final check of who is on the naughty or nice list.
“If the skies are clear they will be visible in the South for up to two minutes,” the air corps said.
Santa’s arrival in Ireland at about 8pm could be greeted by snow in some areas but rain is more likely to be falling at that stage.
“Showers will become isolated early tonight and it will be clear for a time with frost in places. Later in the night cloud will increase in the south of the country and rain will have extended well into Munster and south Connacht by dawn,” Met Éireann said.