Polar Express & Holiday Trains
As if it wasn’t a magical time of year already, creating your own “Polar Express” experience
can really be that special touch this holiday season for your family.
But, many park districts and holiday train opportunities sell out as early as July!
Here’s a round up of available, holiday train experiences in Chicagoland as of 11/29/2021.
Chicago Union Station Polar Express
- “Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ for a magical one-hour trip to the North Pole. Once on board, your car hosts will work their way through the coach and punch your golden ticket before hot chocolate and delicious Walkers Shortbread are served by dancing chefs. Passengers then read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg.”
- The only differences between Value, Standard, and Premium departures are the dates and/or times of the rides.
- Masks required for all passengers 2+
Happy Holiday Railway (Illinois Railway Museum)
- “Embark on a magical 40 minute train ride through the winter countryside with Santa Claus himself! Enjoy a 40-minute train ride for the whole family, see and visit with Santa Claus on the train. Treats will be served during the trip, gifts will be given to children on Santa’s “good list.” See historic trains in the museum’s display barns 6, 7 and 9. Rides on historic Chicago streetcars included with your ticket.”
- Holiday lights display at the boarding area including the biggest and brightest Christmas tree in McHenry County
- Brand new for 2021: our indoor, heated Model Railroad Exhibit
- Now in its 30th year, Santa along with his helper Ella the Elf will be downtown waving to passengers at each stop with the train decorated in holiday lights and images. This year will be a little different as there will be some restrictions. In an effort to keep people safe from COVID-19 and with recommendations from the CDC and public officials, everyone planning to ride the train or bus must wear a mask or face covering, and no photo sessions with Santa will be allowed this year.
- The Holiday Train will run all eight rail lines from Nov. 26 through Dec. 22. The Holiday Bus will run 14 different routes from Nov. 30 through Dec. 23. For more information about the rides, including schedule times, visit the CTA website.
- “The tradition returns this holiday season! Oswego Holiday Express will leave the Santa Station for the North Pole. All aboard to kiddos, young and old! Put on your pajamas, don your warmest apparel, and head to the top of the world on a magical journey.”
Blackberry Farm Holiday Express
- “Bring the family for a magical and memorable experience – just like visiting the North Pole! Blackberry Farm is a winter wonderland amid thousands of twinkling lights, festive holiday decorations and happy holiday music. Take a ride on the Holiday Express train – a charming tour around scenic Lake Gregory – and enjoy a hay wagon ride, too. Back in the historic pioneer village, you’ll enjoy crafts, a reindeer food bar, story readings of holiday classics at the one-room schoolhouse, and…a special visit with Santa.”
West Chicago North Pole Adventure
- December 11th & 12th only
“Your journey is about to begin! Join us as we board a train to the “North Pole”. The ride will be filled with music, stories, and surprises. On the way back from the North Pole, Santa will jump onboard to check his list twice, to see who’s been naughty or nice. Participants will board at the West Chicago Train Station 508 W. Main Street in West Chicago.”
Lionel Train Adventure at Brookfield Zoo Lights
- Ticketed experience
- “Best for kids 10 and under (accompanied by parents), Lionel Train Adventure offers a ride through a small garden with fun sculptures and animal whimsy along the way.”