Catch Santa at the local area malls

Santa is everywhere this time of year. And is he ever busy. He loves going where families hang out so he can make sure his wish lists are all up-to-date. Find out which malls he will be appearing at in your neighborhood. Click here.

Need directions? Try google maps or mapquest.

Top 10 Santa Events in Chicagoland and Northern Illinois

It's an almost impossible task to pick out the top 10 Santa Events in Chicago and Northern Illinois from the many hundreds listed in this web directory. We think you'll agree all of the events chosen are major happenings and both children and adults will agree they are all-time Chicago area favorites. Also be sure to take a look at the "Top 10 Christmas Events in Chicagoland and Northern Illinois", that don't include Santa Claus.

                                     Santa at The McDonalds Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago



Santa at Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
3300 Golf Road

Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000
Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways.

Santa at Holiday Magic Days and Hours: 2014

Saturday & Sunday, December 6th & 7th,13th & 14th, 20th & 21st,  4 pm to 9 pm
Please note Santa will not be at Holiday Magic after Christmas, he is there through Sunday, December 21st.

Admission: Regular zoo parking and admission fees apply. Holiday Magic is free for Zoo members. Photos are available for purchase or you can take your own pictures.

Brookfield Zoo is lit up in a blaze of close to a million beautiful lights during the Holiday Magic weekends when Santa and Mrs. Claus can be found there visiting with children. Besides the old guy , who will be at Candy Cane Corner, just some of the things to see and do include ice-carving demonstrations, live musical performances, the Elf Express mini train, storytellers, costumed characters and magicians. Holiday Magic includes over one-hundred gigantic light displays—and remember you’ll be at the zoo so don’t forget to look for some of your favorite animals! Many of the animal exhibits remain open during Holiday Magic.

Please note on weekends in December there are Breakfasts with Santa at at the Brookfield Zoo for details click on the link above and scroll down to "Brookfield".

                             Mrs. Claus and Santa at Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo



Santa at The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Presented by BMO Harris Bank
on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago

The Greater North Michigan Avenue Association
625 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 401
Chicago, IL 60505
(312) 642-3570
The Magnificent Mile on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue is a world renowned mile of shopping, hotels, dining, culture and entertainment. Every year in November “The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival®” is one of the premier holiday events in the Chicago area.

Date of Festival - Saturday, November 21st, 2015

Schedule of Events 2015:

11 am - 5 pm - Lights Festival Lane - Pioneer Court, 401 North Michigan Avenue - Get a picture with Santa, decorate a slice of cheesecake and more.

11 am - 3:45 pm - BMO Harris Bank stage - Pioneer Court, 401 North Michigan Avenue - Stop by for an afternoon of musical performances by top artists.

5:30 pm - 7 pm From Oak Street to Wacker Drive - Tree Lighting Parade and Procession down Michigan Avenue when the street comes to life, with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, marching bands, colorful floats and Santa Claus in all his glory.

6:57 pm - The Allstate Fireworks Spectacular over the Chicago River.

7 pm to 10 pm - Extended shopping hours at many of the Magnificant Mile stores.


When more than a million lights go on on the trees on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago you know the country's largest evening holiday celebration is officially under way. While there are so many competing festive happenings to experience all day, don’t forget to take the children to see Santa Claus at his booth in Pioneer Court. You can also catch him meeting with the little ones way up in the John Hancock Observatory.

                                  Santa at The Magnificant Mile Lights Festival in Chicago


Santa at the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago
State Street from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60602
Fax: (866) 397-4037

The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade date and times: 2015

Thursday, November 26th, 2015 from 8 am to 11 am

The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade is a: FREE SANTA EVENT

The Thanksgiving Parade has been a festive Chicago tradition since the Great Depression in 1933. You’ll find Santa and Mrs. Claus coming down State Street on their magnificant sled. there will be Ronald McDonald, holiday floats, marching bands, gigantic balloons, colorful entertainers, traditional carolers and much more, all making their way down the street in Chicago’s biggest holiday parade.

                    Santa on State Street at The McDonalds Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago

Santa at Welcome Yule! in Chicago
Welcome Yule! Chicago Symphony Orchestra                                                         Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center                                                                           220 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 294-3000

Welcome Yule! Performance Dates and Times: 2014

Saturday, December 13th & 20th, 3 pm; Sunday, December 14th, 1:30 pm & 5:30 pm; Friday, December 19th, 7 pm: Sunday, December 21st, 3 pm; Monday, December 22nd, 3 pm and Tuesday, December 23rd, 3 pm.

Admission: Check with the CSO Box office for ticket prices & availability                Note: This program recommended for children 5 and over - infants are not admitted

For 20 years, Welcome Yule! has been a wonderful way to get the children and the entire family in the Christmas spirit. This lively program always comes up with new arrangements, uplifting carols, stirring music along with plenty of holiday favorites. One of the best-loved features of these concerts is joining in the sing-alongs and the high spirited fun that takes hold of the audience. Of course Santa and Mrs. Claus are part of the joyous merriment.

© Todd Rosenberg Photography/Chicago Symphony Orchestra


Santa House at Daley Plaza in Chicago

Daley Plaza

50 W. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

(312) 744-3315

Santa House Days and Hours: 2015 November 24th - December 24th

Tuesday - November 24th - 6:30 pm - 8 pm

Thursday - November 26th Thanksgiving Day - 11 am - 4 pm

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays November 27th through December 20th
11 am - 8 pm—Santa takes a break from 3 pm to 4 pm on these days only

Thursday - December 24th Christmas Eve - 11 am - 4 pm

Admission: FREE SANTA EVENT - UL is offering free pictures with Santa or you can take your own pictures.

You’ll find jolly old St. Nick in the heart of downtown Chicago in the gaily decorated UL Santa House near the Christmas tree in Daley Plaza. Santa’s house shares the Plaza with the authentic Christkindlmarket, (see Top 10 Christmas Events in Chicagoland) a month long open air traditional German holiday market, where you can enjoy native foods, crafts and shopping from over forty vendors in timber booths. There’s plenty of holiday entertainment and cheer for both adults and children at this winter wonderland.

               UL Santa House at Daley Plaza - photo courtesy Mayor's Office of Special Events


Santa at 360 CHICAGO
875 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
(888) 875-VIEW
360 CHICAGO formally—The John Hancock Observatory—is located in downtown Chicago’s Michigan Avenue on what is known as the “Magnificent Mile”. The Center is open every day 9 am to 11 pm—the last elevator is 10:30 pm.

Santa Days and Hours: 2014

Open Saturdays & Sundays: November 22nd through December 23rd plus Christmas Eve, Wednesday, December 24th -10 am to 2 pm.

General Admission: $18 for adults; Children 3-11 $12, under 3 free                          For additional information, click on this LINK

At almost 1,000 feet over the city 360 CHICAGO has one of the most spectacular views of Chicago, the surrounding area and Lake Michigan. You’ll find the old man with the white bear, at his perch high above the clouds during the holiday season. Photos with Santa will be complimentary for 360 CHICAGO guests. Other special gifts will include a complimentary one-day Child pass to the Shedd Aquarium and kids will TILT for FREE every Wednesday!


                                                Santa at John Hancock Observatory


Santa at Lincoln Park Zoo Zoolights
in Chicago

2200 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000
Lincoln Park Zoo is located off Lake Shore Drive at the Fullerton Parkway exit, just minutes north of downtown Chicago. From I-94, exit at either Fullerton Parkway or North Avenue and go east.

Santa Days and Hours: 2014
• Friday, November 28th to Sunday, December 30th: 5 pm to 9 pm
• Friday, December 5th to Sunday, December 7th: 5 pm to 9 pm
• Friday, December 12th though Sunday, December 21st: 5 pm to 9 pm

Note—while Santa is mostly at the Zoo on weekends, ZooLights festivities runs nightly through December 21st.

Admission: FREE SANTA EVENT - admission to the Lincoln Park Zoo is always free, including visits with Santa, photos are available for purchase or you can take your own pictures. Paid parking is available. Santa can be found inside the Kovler Lion House.

Tell Santa your wish list as lions and tigers watch. Come see the jolly old guy at Lincoln Park Zoo which transforms into a dazzling wonderland with a series of free seasonal festivities. Enter a winter wonderland illuminated by more than two million lights at Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Charter One. This holiday classic has become one of the Windy City’s must-see seasonal events. Watch live ice carving then get out of the cold and into the climate conditions found in Africa, Asia, South America and Australia at the Regenstein Small Mammal Reptile House. Animal exhibits stay open late as guests roam the beautiful grounds, prepare family crafts and enjoy the zoo’s incredible animals immersed in an atmosphere unlike any other.



                                     Santa at Lincoln Park Zoo - photo credit Lincoln Park Zoo

                                      Lincoln Park Zoo Lights - photo credit Lincoln Park Zoo


Santa at Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier in Chicago
Family Pavilion Stage
(West End of Pier close to Imax)
600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 606011
(312) 595-7437

Santa Days and Hours 2014

Friday, December 5th - through December 24th

Packed with family fun, the 14th annual PNC Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier is Chicago’s biggest and best indoor winter playground featuring 170,000 square feet of rides, giant slides and Chicago Blackhawks Indoor Ice Skating Rink. General Admission and Activity Tickets on sale soon! Visit for full event details.



Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at Navy Pier


Starting Friday, December 5th, 2014 Santa and Mrs. Claus can be found at their home inside Winter WonderFest at the foot of the giant tree. Families and the kids will find them ready for photos and wish lists right through Christmas Eve.

Santa will be available for photos and wish lists:

December 5th through December 24th

Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays 11 am to 6 pm

Mondays through Thursdays 11 am to 4 pm

Special Holiday Hours:
Christmas Eve - Wednesday, December 24th - 10 am – 5 pm
Christmas Day - Thursday, December 25th - CLOSED
New Year’s Eve - Wednesday, December 31st - 10 am – 10 pm
New Year’s Day -Thursday, January 1st - 10 am – 10 pm

Admission: Admission to Navy Pier is free and visits with Santa only is a

There is a professional photographer at the event who charges for photos, however you are allowed to take your own pictures if you don’t wish to purchase photos.

Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier

In addition to Santa Claus at Navy Pier, 2014 is the 14th anniversary of Winter WonderFest which runs from December 5th through January 11th at Festival Hall.

Location: Navy Pier Festival Hall A & B

Winter WonderFest admission is free. Ticket purchase required for rides and attractions. This is a great place for the kids to enjoy indoor fun and entertainment including ice skating, rides, along with spectacular Christmas lights and trees throughout.


Santa's Home Navy Pier
Santa’s home at Navy Pier - photo courtesy
Mayor's Office of Special Events


Santa Claus on the CTA Holiday Train 2014

Chicago Transit Authority
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661
Note: For detailed schedule for the Holiday Train check the CTA website - Here’s the LINK to the 2014 Holiday Train page.

Admission: Normal fares apply—there is no premium to ride on the Holiday Train
- There is no photographer on the CTA trains so be sure and bring a camera.

Every Christmas season The Chicago Transit Authority gives the citizens of the windy city a marvelous gift—the CTA Holiday train. This spectacular and beautifully lit up train with Santa and his elves, runs on different CTA routes from Friday, November 28th through Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014. The six car train can be seen coming from a long way off, with thousands of brightly colored lights festooning the cars. The interiors of the cars are gaily decorated with a plethora of multi-colored lights, garlands and red bows with poles wrapped to resemble candy-canes. Santa arrives in dramatic fashion, on a sleigh in an open flatbed car in the middle of the train—which has been outfitted with reindeer, Christmas trees and luminous shining lights. As the train pulls into a station Santa can be seen greeting the children and boarding passengers and of course ho ho hoing! Santa Claus on the CTA Holiday Train.



                                                      The CTA Holiday Train



Santa at Special Kids Holiday Event
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Time: 3:30 pm - 8 pm

Sponsor: Special Kids Day Events
Event at: Wilder Mansion
211 Prospect   Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126
For additional information:
(630) 530-7700


Every year since 1990, on the first Wednesday in December about four hundred special needs children, with physical and developmental disabilities, and families are treated to a delightful afternoon and evening where they get to bond with Santa Claus. The children have their picture taken, receive specially selected and appropriate toys, enjoy cookies and ice cream and activities such as face painting, visits from clowns and other performers and activities. This event that has been growing in size and popularity every year.


photo courtesy Special Kids Day Events © 2010




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Please note—all of the above events are subject to change without notice

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