We’re delighted to report that 44 events that used live animals between 2018-2022 held animal-free Christmas celebrations in 2023! 

Christmas funfair and markets in Edinburgh.

In addition, 109 events that used live animals between 2018-2022 did not explicitly confirm themselves that their events were animal-free this year, but they did not advertise the use of animals, nor did it appear that they used animals. 

We wrote to 219 venues and councils 

Last year, we co-ordinated an open letter signed by 11 animal welfare organisations, that addressed the welfare issues of reindeer captivity and reindeer displays. Alongside our friends at Animal Aid, Born Free and Freedom For Animals, we sent the letter to 219 venues and all councils throughout the UK.  

The letter called on venues, that planned to exhibit or had previously exhibited live reindeer in their Christmas celebrations, to cease the use of live reindeer in events. We also asked the councils to consider introducing a policy prohibiting the use of live animals at entertainment events. 

Our brilliant supporters also wrote to venues that were advertising the use of reindeer in 2023 and were instrumental in creating a dialogue with event organisers. 

Report concludes that live reindeer events should cease 

Reindeer at Christmas display resting on grass.

Last year, we commissioned a report on the potential welfare impacts of reindeer captivity and their use in events. The findings in the report were listed in the open letter to venues and councils. 

The Welfare Needs of Captive Reindeer Used for Entertainment Events in the UK: a review’, written by Dr Tayla Hammond, established the welfare needs of captive reindeer in the UK, explored the impact of captivity and entertainment events on reindeer welfare and provided recommendations to improve captive reindeer welfare. 

The report ultimately concluded that the use of reindeer in entertainment events be ceased due to potential negative impact on the animals’ welfare. 

Next steps 

We will continue working alongside our friends at Animal Aid, Born Free and Freedom for Animals to ensure that more venues cease using reindeer, and that more councils introduce a policy prohibiting the use of animals in entertainment events in 2024.