CTA Holiday Train, photo courtesy CTA

All-Aboard and Ho Ho Ho! The CTA Holiday Train

If you think you see Santa and his reindeer flying by in Chicago you’re not losing your mind. The CTA Holiday Train is back!

The Holiday Train is an annual holiday tradition that shares joy and candy canes whether you’ve been naughty OR nice. It’s a moving, literally, celebration of the holidays and runs Tuesdays through Saturdays throughout Chicago.

Inside, the cars are decorated with lights and bows and garland and the poles look like candy canes (just don’t eat those). Outside, the train is lit up with even more lights, and Santa and his reindeer welcome riders while elves pass out real candy canes (these you can eat).

Santa himself will even hand out candy canes to good girls and boys, so mind your transit p’s & q’s. On Saturdays the Elves’ Workshop Train will follow Santa to make sure even more people can join in the fun.

These trains do more than spread good cheer. They also deliver food baskets to charitable agencies. In fact, that’s how this Chicago Christmas tradition got its start.

In 1992, an out-of-service train delivered food to various charities, and someone put a “Seasons Greetings from the CTA” on the front. That spirit took hold and grew until we have the festive celebration that the CTA Holiday Train is today.

Where do these food baskets come from? CTA employees donate their time, and their money, and purchase groceries. They then assemble them in baskets to donate to those in need. They’ve done this for decades, and in 2018 donated about 500 baskets.

The Holiday Train generally runs Tuesdays through Fridays from 3pm to 7pm and Saturdays from around 1pm to about 8pm. The train usually begins service the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs until the Friday before Christmas. We’ll post the full schedule when it’s available.

Below is the schedule so you can find out when it will be over the river and in your neck of the woods. Be sure to check the CTA’s website for tips on getting the most out of this holiday tradition.

Allstate CTA Holiday Train schedule

2019 Allstate CTA Holiday Train scheduleClick the dates below to see full details.
Green Line & Orange LineFri 11/29
Green LineSat 11/30
Green Line & Orange LineTue 12/3
Orange Line & Brown LineWed 12/4
Orange Line & Brown LineThu 12/5
Orange Line & Brown LineFri 12/6
Orange Line & Brown LineSat 12/7
Pink LineTue 12/10
Pink LineWed 12/11
Blue LineThu 12/12
Blue LineFri 12/13
Blue Line (+ photo-only stop on Pink Line)Sat 12/14
Red LineTue 12/17
Purple LineWed 12/18
Red LineThu 12/19
Purple LineFri 12/20
Red Line & Purple LineSat 12/21
Yellow Line Fri 12/23

2019 Allstate CTA Holiday Bus Schedule

The bus will travel multiple CTA bus routes throughout the city between late November and late December, as part of regular service. Normal CTA fares apply. The bus will generally operate from early afternoon through early evening on select weekdays and weekends (schedules for each route will vary), and will serve all posted stops along the respective routes. 

We strongly encourage you to use the holiday bus tracker to track the whereabouts of Ralphie and Santa along the scheduled route. This information will only be available while the bus is in service on the dates and times listed below.

NOTE: schedule times are approximate and subject to change.

RouteDate in serviceDeparture times 
#56 Milwaukee
Tue 11/2612:28p
NB from Madison/Wabash
Wed 11/27
SB from Jefferson Park Blue Line
Photo session:
@ Jefferson Park Blue Line
approx. 4:20p-5:20p
#22 Clark
#97 Skokie
Fri 11/29
WB as #97 from Howard Terminal to Old Orchard
Photo session:
@Old Orchard
approx: 1:35p-2:30p
EB from Old Orchard3:55p
SB as #22 from Howard Terminal to Harrison/Clark
#22 ClarkSat 11/30
SB from Howard Terminal (Red/Purple/Yellow lines)
Photo session:
@Howard Terminal
approx: 4:10p-5:05p
#92 Foster
#91 Austin
Sun 12/112:13p
WB as #92 from Berwyn Red Line to Jefferson Park Blue line1:05p
SB as #91 from Jefferson Park Blue Line5:40p
EB as #92 from Jefferson Park Blue Line to Berwyn Red Line
#66 ChicagoTue 12/3
 EB from Chicago/Austin
Photo session:
@ Navy Pier 
approx. 4:15p-5:15p
Wed 12/412:24p
EB from Chicago/Austin
#126 JacksonThu 12/51:00p
EB from Jackson/Austin
#12 RooseveltFri 12/6
EB from Harrison/Central
Photo session:
@ Harrison/Central
approx. 4:10p-5:10p
Sat 12/71:10p
EB from Harrison/Central
#62 Archer Wed 12/1112:40p
SB from Kinzie/Sate
Thu 12/12
NB from Midway Orange Line
Photo session:
@ Midway Orange Line
approx. 4:05p-5:05p
#49 Western#X49 Western Exp.Fri 12/13
NB as #49 from 79th/Western2:30p
SB as #X49 from Berwyn/Western 
Photo session:
@ 79th/Western
approx. 4:25p-5:40p 
NB as #X49 from 79th/Western7:40p
SB as #49 from Berwyn/Western
#79 79thSat 12/14
EB from 79th/Western1:55p
WB from 79th/Lake Front 
to Ford City Mall 
Photo session:
@ Ford City Mall
approx. 3:25p-4:25p
#3 King DriveWed 12/18
SB from Ontario/Fairbanks
Photo session:
@ 95th/Chicago State U.
approx. 3:20p-4:20p
Thu 12/1912:20p
NB from 95th/Chicago State U. 
#28 Stony IslandFri 12/20
NB from Olive Harvey College 
to 47th/Lake Park3:08p
NB from Olive Harvey College 
to Union Station
Photo session:
@ Union Station
approx. 4:45p-5:45p
#29 StateSat 12/21
NB from 95th Red Line
Photo session:
@ Navy Pier
approx. 4:15p-5:15p
Sun 12/2212:30p
NB from 95th Red Line
#J14 Jeffrey JumpMon 12/2311:17a
NB from 103rd/Stony Island

Photo courtesy CTA.

The CTA Holiday Train is an annual Chicago Christmas tradition that spreads joy and candy canes throughout the city. Click here to learn more. Chicago Christmas | Things to do Christmas Chicago | Chicago holidays | Winter in Chicago






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