Online Advent Calendars 2016: Best Free Sites & Apps to Countdown to Christmas

The Sankta Lucia Festival of Light procession walks through the Nave Sanctuary before performing for visitors at York Minster on December 17, 2014 in York, England. Dating back to the 18th century, the Swedish tradition of Sankta Lucia shares many similarities with the advent procession. It symbolizes the bringing of light into the dark winter months and is one of the most significant services in the Swedish ecclesiastical calendar. (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Today is the beginning of Advent 2016 in anticipation of Christmas on December 25. What are the best websites and smartphone apps to use for an Advent calendar for kids and adults?

Advent is a holy time observed by many Western Christian churches in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The word “advent” is an anglicization of the Latin word meaning “coming,” in reference to Jesus’s arrival. The origin of Advent is unknown, but it started in at least 480 CE. While Advent calendars usually start on December 1, actual Advent starts on the Sunday before the 1st. This year, Advent started on Sunday, November 27.

Advent calendars were first used by German Lutherans starting in the 19th but they quickly caught on and are now used by a variety of Christian denominations. Later additions to the Advent calendar included punchout calendars that included pieces of chocolate or small toys.

Find out how to countdown Advent with these digital calendars that can be used on computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Santa Games Advent Calendar for Computers & Tablets


The “Santa Games Advent Calendar” advertises itself as “a countdown to Christmas Day” and can be found here. The calendar is unique in that with every day of Advent, a new, fun, free game becomes available to play.

On the first day of Advent, a “spot the difference” game was released. To play it, click here.

‘Religious’ Advent Calendar for Computers & Tablets

(Loyola Press)

The Advent calendar by Loyola Press, a Catholic publisher, officers a more sober approach to the holy time that can be found here. The calendar started on November 27, the traditional date to start Advent. With every day, the calendar offers a link to a brief “sermon” about the approach of the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Advent Calendar 2016 for iPhone

(Advent Calendar 2016)

When it comes to a free Advent calendar for iOS, they are hard to come by. After much searching on the App Store, we finally found one that was completely free to download but still offers “in-app purchases.” However, Advent Calendar 2016 is the only app that doesn’t make you purchase anything to use the actual calendar part of the app. On every day, a new calendar date is available. The first day shows lyrics to the song Silent Night and offers a midi file of the song. To download, click here.

Christmas Advent Calendar for Android

(Christmas Advent Calendar)

The Christmas Advent Calendar for Android is the #1 free choice for an Advent calendar for Android phones. Like the iOS calendar, it is very basic with each day revealing a picture of an animal. To download it from the Google Play store, click here.

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