articles

CTA Holiday Train is Ready to Ride Again!

The Allstate CTA Holiday Fleet is Returns for the 32nd Year

By Sara Yaniga, Macaroni Kid Chicago (Midtown) November 18, 2023

The first time I discovered the CTA Holiday Train, I was determined to go on it with our son.  We checked the schedule, got to the station in plenty of time, and the train pulled up and was packed.  Packed tighter than the usual rush hour train, my son took one look and said, “that’s too crowded,” and I had to agree.  We turned around, headed back up the stairs, and walked home in the cold.  The adult in me knew it was the right call, but the kid in me was disappointed. 

Fast forward to the next year, and I was determined!  We researched and discussed how it might start crowded but was likely to get less crowded after a certain station.  The train pulled up, the doors opened, and we jumped on.  It was crowded but not horrible, and the decor was so mesmerizing that we barely noticed the other people.  We stuck it out, made it past the Fullerton station and the train was ours! We rode all the way to the end of the (Purple) line and had a blast, singing along with the Christmas music and eating the Candy canes the CTA ‘Elves’ were passing out.  We were rewarded with getting the chance to meet Santa while at the Linden stop before grabbing some pizza and hopping back on the train for the ride home.


It’s not something I try to do every year, but it’s definitely worth riding every now and then.  A few tips from my own experience with the train are to:

  1. Plan ahead and look at the schedule, but expect the posted times may shift
  2. Travel as lightly as possible because space is limited, and sometimes there are people on the train commuting home from work in addition to the festive riders.  Leave the giant backpacks and diaper bags at home.
  3. Ditch the stroller to help with crowds and space, PLUS the CTA Elves may not let you board with it.
  4. Like any other day, the cars at the front or back of the train usually have the most space.  Move down the platform to hop on one of these cars for the chance of more room.
  5. Be patient and have fun!

Here is the most current schedule, but please check the CTA site for updated information!  Please note that all times are approximate, and expect a fifteen-minute shift in either direction. You can use the CTA Train & Bus Tracker as well to help plan your ride.

2023 Allstate CTA Holiday Train schedule
All times pm

Green Line & Orange Line
Fri 11/24
Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Harlem/Lake at 3:07
Harlem/Lake to Cottage Grove at 4:31
Cottage Grove toward Loop, then Midway at 5:51

Green Line
& Photos with Santa
Sat 11/25 πŸ“·Departing:
Harlem/Lake to Ashland/63rd at 2:11
Cottage Grove to Harlem/Lake at 3:30
Green Line & Orange Line
Tue 11/28
Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Harlem/Lake at 4:01
Harlem/Lake to Ashland/63rd at 5:31
Ashland/63rd toward Loop, then Midway at 7:06
Orange Line & Brown Line
Wed 11/29
Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Kimball at 3:07
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 4:41
Orange Line & Brown Line
Thu 11/30
Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Kimball at 3:53
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 5:28
Orange Line & Brown Line
Fri 12/1
Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Kimball at 3:07
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 4:41
Orange Line & Brown Line
& Photos with Santa
Sat 12/2 πŸ“·
Departing:
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 12:53
Midway toward Loop, then Kimball at 4:01
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 6:39
Red Line
Tue 12/5
Departing:
Howard to 95th/Dan Ryan at 2:43
95th/Dan Ryan to Howard at 4:19
Purple Line
Wed 12/6
Departing:
Howard to Linden at 3:15
Linden to Loop, via express, at 3:50
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to Linden at 4:38
Linden to Howard at 6:00
Red Line
Thu 12/7
Departing:
Howard to 95th/Dan Ryan at 3:13
95th/Dan Ryan to Howard at 4:46
Purple Line
Fri 12/8
Departing:
Howard to Linden at 3:45
Linden to Loop, via express, at 4:20
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to Linden at 5:07
Linden to Howard at 6:20
Red Line & Purple Line
& Photos with Santa
Sat 12/9 πŸ“·
Departing:
Howard to 95th/Dan Ryan at 12:16
95th/Dan Ryan to Howard at 3:01
Howard to Linden at 4:16
Linden to Howard at 6:31
Pink Line
Tue 12/12
Departing:
54th/Cermak to Loop at 2:43
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to 54th/Cermak at 3:10
54th/Cermak to Loop at 4:16
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to 54th/Cermak at 4:43
Pink Line
Wed 12/13
Departing:
54th/Cermak to Loop at 3:06
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to 54th/Cermak at 3:33
54th/Cermak to Loop at 4:44
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to 54th/Cermak at 5:11
Blue Line
Thu 12/14
Departing:
O'Hare to Forest Park at 3:13
Forest Park to O'Hare at 4:57
Blue Line
Fri 12/15
Departing:
O'Hare to Forest Park at 4:13
Forest Park to O'Hare at 6:02
Blue Line
& Photos with Santa
Sat 12/16 πŸ“·
Departing:
Illinois Medical District to Forest Park at 3:52
Forest Park to O'Hare at 3:53
Yellow Line
Thu 12/21
All trains on Yellow Line will be 2-car Holiday Trains for service departing:
Howard from 3:08 until 6:53
Dempster-Skokie from 3:22 until 7:07

πŸ“· denotes photo with Santa days


* source transitchicago.com