Ho ho ho …

It is “that” time of year.

As Christmas lights twinkle in neighborhood homes, holiday shopping flourishes, and radios play merry songs, they all suggest one thing: Santa’s arrival is not far away.

Yes, the cheerful old elf with his iconic white beard is ready to hug his young admirers and make children and adults smile.

After missing out on this long-awaited holiday tradition last year, Santa’s sleigh has finally arrived in Delaware.

But like everyone else, Santa will also be following COVID-19 protocols this Christmas to make sure his little fans can safely experience magic, and he returns to the North Pole healthy and plentiful.

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Face covering requirements for Santa Claus and his visitors will vary by location according to local ordinances.

Guests are encouraged to pre-book their tour as most locations will have a separate line for reserved visitors, and walk-in tours will be available if space permits.

Children will have the option to sit with Santa Claus or take a social distance photo.

Places like Christiana Mall and Dover Mall have also implemented increased security measures such as disinfection and sanitation stations and routine fabric processing for character costumes.

Some places have reduced opening hours, but with Santa Claus returning to town, families once again have the chance to rekindle this good old Christmas tradition.

After Santa's tours were canceled to most places during the pandemic, they are back this year.

Santa has set up his home in various locations in Delaware, all ready to make appearances before Thanksgiving. And it will be spotted more frequently after the holidays, in the days leading up to Christmas.

Here’s where and when you, your kids, and your pets can visit Santa:

Christiana Shopping Center

Until Christmas Eve, Santa will be at the Christiana Shopping Center taking pictures and collecting some ideas from your wish lists. On certain dates from November 29 to December 20, you can also bring your pets.

Pre-reservations are encouraged and walk-in tours will be available if space permits, according to the mall’s website. Visitors can sit with Santa or take a social distance photo. Guests will be allowed to remove their masks during the photo.

OR: Target terrain

WHEN: Now until Christmas Eve; Santa Claus is gone for Thanksgiving

HOURS: Monday to Saturday, 10:15 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Sunday, 11:15 a.m.-6:45 p.m.

HOURS OF ANIMALS: Nov 29 and Dec 6, 13 and 20, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

MORE INFORMATION: www.christianamall.com

John Hughes, 5, and his brother Aaron, 3, sit on Santa's lap in Concord Mall as they offer Christmas greetings to him.

Santa Express

If you don’t like the idea of ​​lining up at the mall to see Santa Claus, the Wilmington & Western Railroad will bring Santa Claus aboard their Santa Claus Express.

That’s right, Santa Claus himself gets on the train, greets everyone on board, and hands out delicious chocolate treats to the kids.

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The 90-minute round trip through the scenic Red Clay Valley to Ashland will run on various dates from November 26 to December 19.

Reservations are encouraged as limited places are expected to fill up quickly.

OR: Greenbank Railroad Station, 2201 Newport-Gap Pike, Price Corner

WHEN: 26 to 28 Nov. and 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19 Dec.

HOURS: 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

MORE INFORMATION: www.wwrr.com

Dover Shopping Center

Santa arrived at Dover Mall on November 19 and will stay there to greet visitors until Christmas Eve. St. Nick will pose for photos and spread the long-awaited Christmas cheer, after things got a little gloomy since the pandemic.

Pre-reservations are encouraged for the magical Santa Claus photo experience. Guests will be allowed to remove their masks while taking a photo.

Walk-in tours will be permitted as space permits, according to the mall’s website.

OR: Santa Phot Experience Pop-up Shop

WHEN: Now until December 24; Santa Claus is gone for Thanksgiving

HOURS: Hours vary for each day; visitors may refer to the website below for more information.

More information: www.DooverMall.com

Santa's House in its place on the promenade at Rehoboth Beach.

Santa’s house on the promenade at Rehoboth Beach

Santa has finally announced his hours of operation and the location of his home in the Rehoboth Beach area. Santa’s House will be on the Rehoboth promenade at the end of Rehoboth Avenue to meet you and hear your holiday wish list.

Visitors can also bring their pets on certain days. There is no tour fee, according to the city’s website.

Santa will be in town just in time when the town officially lights up the holiday season with its annual Tree Lighting & Holiday Sing-Along event on November 26.

OR: On the promenade at Rehoboth Beach, near the bandstand

WHEN: 26, 27 Nov and 4, 5, 18, 19 Dec.

HOURS: Hours vary for each day, and the schedule is subject to change. Visitors are encouraged to view the website. The opening hours for animals will be from 2 p.m. to 2 p.m. on December 19.

MORE INFORMATION: www.rehobothbeach.com

The Brandywine Vally SPCA welcomed pets and supporters for photos with Santa Claus and an open house on November 24.

Brandywine Zoo

Santa will be making an appearance at the Brandywine Zoo to greet fans, on two and on all fours.

Guests can take photos with Santa and witness the “Winter Wonderland” installation, including holiday treats, hot chocolate and other fun Christmas activities.

The visit is free for members and only requires registration. For non-members, tickers are $ 7 per person. Visitors are encouraged to check the website for more information.

WHEN: December 11 and 12

OR: Brandywine Zoo, 1001 N. Park Drive, Wilmington

HOURS: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

MORE INFORMATION: www.brandywinezoo.com