This Exciting North Pole Adventure is Open to Everyone in the Chicago Area and the Entire World!

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 2016

It's an almost impossible task to pick out the top 10 Santa Events in Chicago and Northern Illinois in 2016 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 giving a special present at Santa's Magical Trolley Express Evanston © Santa Claus, Inc.



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: 2016

Saturday & Sunday, December 3rd & 4th,10th & 11th, 17th & 18th,  4 pm to 9 pm
Please note Santa will not be at Holiday Magic after Christmas, he is there through Sunday, December 18th.

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 19th, 2016

Schedule of Events 2016:

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: 2016

Thursday, November 24th, 2016 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 Claus at Merry, Merry Chicago
Merry, Merry Chicago                                                                                                        Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall                                                                            Symphony Center                                                                                                           220 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 294-3000                                                                                           

Welcome Yule! Performance Dates and Times: 2016

Friday, December 16th, 7pm, Saturday, December 17th, 3pm, Wednesday, December 21st, 3pm, Thursday, December 22nd, 3pm and Friday, December 23rd, 1pm and 4:30pm

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

Merry, Merry Chicago is a wonderful way to get the children and the entire family in the Christmas spirit. Featured are members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and special guest Ashley Brown. Included in this festive celebration is the 160-member Chicago Children’s Choir, who will be performing holiday favorites. The children will love the sing-along and the beloved Christmas favorites. Of course Santa will be part of the joyous merriment. This concert will be approximately two hours and have an intermission.

© 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: November 22nd - December 24th, 2016

Tuesday - November 22nd - 6:30 pm - 8 pm

Thursday - November 24th Thanksgiving Day - 11 am - 4 pm

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays November 25th through December 18th
11 am - 8 pm—Santa takes a break from 3 pm to 4 pm on these days only

Saturday - 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 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 Even   


Santa at The Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony                         Millennium Park                                                                                               Near the intersection of Michigan & Washington
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 742-1168

Date and time: 2016 of Tree Lighting: Friday, November 18th, 4:30pm

The Tree Lighting is a FREE SANTA EVENT                                                                      For additional information click on this LINK

For over one hundred years the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Chicago has been a major holiday happening. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there with the mayor for the festive occasion. This gala event now in Millennium Park, is a great way to celebrate the official opening on the holiday season in Chicago.


Photo credit City of Chicago - laffy4k


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: 2016
• Friday, November 25th to Sunday , November 27th: 4:30pm to 9pm
• Friday, December 2nd to Sunday, December 4th: 4:30pm to 9pm
• Friday, December 9th though Friday, December 23rd: 4:30pm to 9pm

Note—while Santa is mostly at the Zoo on weekends, ZooLights festivities runs nightly November 25th through January 1st.

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 2015

Saturday, December 5th - through December 24th

Packed with family fun, the 15th 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 Saturday, December 5th, 2015 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 - Thursday, December 24th - 10 am – 5 pm
Christmas Day - Friday, December 25th - CLOSED

Admission: Admission to Navy Pier is free - General admission tickets to Winter Wonderfest which includes visits with Santa are $10.
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, 2015 is the 15th anniversary of Winter WonderFest which runs from December 5th through January 10th at Festival Hall.

Location: Navy Pier Festival Hall A & B

Winter WonderFest admission is $10. 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 at Special Kids Holiday Event
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

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


Santa’s Magical Trolley Express
in Evanston 2016

Little Beans Café
430 Ashbury Avenue,
Evanston, IL 60202

Little Beans Café is located at the intersection of Oakton and Ashbury in Evanston.
Note: Do not contact Little Beans regarding this event.                                                   

Santa’s Magical Trolley Express Day’s and Hours: 2016
•  Tue., Nov. 29th through Tue., December 20th: departures 10am to 8pm
•  Wed., Nov. 30th through Wed., December 21st: departures 10am to 8pm
    Plan on arriving 20 to 30 minutes prior to departure time.

Advance ticket purchase is required.                                                                                       

To purchase tickets for the Evanston program click on the following LINK

The trips to the North Pole either by train or trolley have proven to be the most popular Santa Claus events in the Chicago area for children. One of the problems families have experienced is there haven’t been enough departures to satisfy the demand. Another obstacle is that local residents have been given booking priority. This has resulted in people from out-of-town being left behind because these trips sell out almost immediately. An additional disadvantage is, most companies offering these tours do not know what children expect to find when they arrive at the North Pole. Santa’s Magical Trolley Express has the answer to all of these issues. The odyssey begins when the little ones board the trolley. They will be greeted by Mrs. Claus and the conductor, professional performers who know how to entertain kids, building excitement as they journey north on their polar trek.The real fun begins when they arrive at a mythical North Pole—where they will believe they have found Santa at his workshop. Upon arrival at Santa’s North Pole abode—created by a top set designer—they will visit with the big guy, get a picture and tell St. Nick what they hope to find under the tree. Cookies and cocoa with Mrs. Claus are next, then some exciting Yuletide games and a very special surprise.

                     The children are ready for their North Pole adventure - Photo © Santa Claus, Inc.

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

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