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 Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
3300 Golf Road
Brookfield, IL 60513
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".
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
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 22nd, 2014
Schedule of Events 2013:
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.
Admission: FREE SANTA EVENT
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 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: 2014
Thursday, November 27th, 2014 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 at Welcome Yule! in Chicago
Welcome Yule! Chicago Symphony Orchestra Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center 220 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60604
Welcome Yule! Performance Dates and Times: 2013
Saturday, December 14th & 21st, 3 pm; Sunday December 15th & 22nd, 1:30 pm & 5 pm; Friday, December 20th, 7 pm and Monday 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 almost 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.
Santa House at Daley Plaza in Chicago
50 W. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Santa House Days and Hours: 2014 November 25th - December 24th
Tuesday - November 25th - 6:30 pm - 8 pm
Thursday - November 27th Thanksgiving Day - 11 am - 4 pm
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays November 28th through December 20th
11 am - 8 pm—Santa takes a break from 3 pm to 4 pm on these days only
Wednesday - 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.
“Santa in the Sky” at the John Hancock Center
875 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
The John Hancock Center 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: 2013
Open Saturdays & Sundays: November 30th through December 22nd plus Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24th -10 am to 2 pm.
Admission: Tickets are $18 for adults; Children 3-11 $1;, Children under 3 free
At almost 1,000 feet over the city the John Hancock Observatory has one of the most spectacular views of Chicago, the surrounding area and Lake Michigan. During November and December, you’ll find the old man with the white beard and Mrs. Claus as well, at their Hancock perch high above the clouds. You’ll also find one of the best model railroad exhibits imaginable. Included in the display is a magical village decked out with beautifully decorated trees, snow covered mountains and numerous trains winding throughout.
Santa at Lincoln Park Zoo Zoolights
2200 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
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: 2013
• Friday, November 29th to Sunday, December 1st: 5 pm to 9 pm
• Friday, December 6th to Sunday, December 8th: 5 pm to 9 pm
• Friday, December 13th though Sunday, December 21st: 5 pm to 9 pm
Note—while Santa is only at the Zoo on weekends, ZooLights festivities runs nightly through December 22nd.
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.
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 Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier in Chicago
Family Pavilion Stage
(West End of Pier close to Imax)
600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 606011
Santa Days and Hours 2013:
Saturday, November 23rd Light Show Spectacle - 5 pm to 9:30 pm. Head to Navy Pier to welcome the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Festivities get under way as all of Navy Pier comes to life with a beautiful animated projection. Santa will flip the switch to illuminate the front of the pier and the lights and projection dance together choreographed to festive music. The Light Show Spectacle is best viewed with from Gateway Park, just west of the main entrance.. This ceremony officially kicks off the holiday season at Navy Pier.
Starting Friday, December 6th, 2013 Santa and Mrs. Claus can be found at their new 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 6th to December 24th
Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays 11 am to 6 pm
Mondays through Thursdays 11 am to 4 pm
Special Holiday Hours:
Christmas Eve - Tuesday, December 24th - 10 am – 5 pm
Christmas Day - Wednesday, December 25th - CLOSED
New Year’s Eve - Tuesday, December 31st - 10 am – 10 pm
New Year’s Day - Wednesday, January 1st - 10 am – 10 pm
Admission: Admission to Navy Pier is free and visits with Santa only is a
FREE SANTA EVENT.
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, 2013 is the 13th anniversary of Winter WonderFest which runs from December 6th through January 12th 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 Claus on the CTA Holiday Train
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 2013 Holiday Train page.
Santa Schedule on the CTA 2013:
Friday, November 29th through Saturday, December 23rd 2013
Holiday Schedule 2013:
Note: The specific times the trains will be running are not yet available:
The days the CTA Holiday Trains will operate are:
· Green Line: November 29, 30, and December 3
· Orange and Brown Lines: December 4, 5, 6 and 7
· Pink Line: December 10 & 11
· Blue Line: December 12, 13 & 14
· Red Line: December 17, 19 & 21
· Purple Line: December 18, 20 and 21
· Yellow Line: December 23
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 29th through Monday, December 23rd, 2013. 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.
Santa at Special Kids Holiday Event
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
Time: 3:30 pm - 8 pm
Sponsor: Special Kids Day Events
Event at: Wilder Mansion
211 Prospect Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126
For additional information:
Admission: FREE SANTA EVENT
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.
Please note—all of the above events are subject to change without notice