St. Anne’s: The Black Santa Sit-Out

The Black Santa Annual Sit-Out

The ‘Black Santa’ tradition at Belfast Cathedral was first established in 1976 by Dean Sammy Crooks. The 2021 Sit-out, continuing a great Belfast tradition now in its 45th year, gets underway on the steps of St Anne’s Cathedral in Donegall Street on Monday December 13th, and continues until Christmas Eve!

The ‘Black Santa Sit-Out’ takes place the week before Christmas each year. The Dean of Belfast dresses in the familiar black Anglican clerical cloak and raises money for the Appeal from the steps of the Cathedral, rain or shine. From the first appeal, Dean Crooks was described in the local press as “Belfast’s Black Santa”. The description struck a lasting chord with the public! The four succeeding Deans of Belfast (Deans Shearer, McKelvey, Mann, and Forde) have continued the Black Santa tradition over more than forty years so that each year the generosity of the people of Belfast and individuals across the world continues to help hundreds of charities.

Each year, Black Santa receives hundreds of applications for funding. After Christmas, the chosen organisations are invited to send representatives to the Good Samaritans Service, usually held in the following February where the donated funds are distributed. This year the Dean especially welcomes applications from registered charities working directly with refugee communities settling in Northern Ireland and people with disabilities.

An unusual fact about the Annual Black Santa Sit-Out is that the Cathedral does not take any donations for itself – all of the money raised during the sit out and throughout the year via online donations goes directly to the Charities that apply.

For more information on the Black Santa Appeal or to make a donation go to

Members Involved

YEAR: 1904

Location: Donegall Street