CTA Holiday Train Rides Again!

By Macaroni Kid Chicago (Midtown) November 28, 2021

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 did more research and discussed how it may start crowded itvwas likely to get less crowded after a certain station.  The train pulled up, the doors open 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 is 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 because to help with crowds and space the CTA Elves may not let you board with it
  4. Just as with 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.

  • Green Line & Orange Line - 11/30 from 4:00 - 8:30
  • Orange & Brown Line - 12/1 from 3:00 - 6:00
  • Orange & Brown Line - 12/2 from 3:45 - 6:45
  • Orange & Brown Line - 12/3 from 3:00 - 6:00
  • Orange & Brown Line - 12/4 from 12:45 - 5:00
  • Loop Run - 12/5 from 11:00 - 2:00
  • Loop Run - 12/12 from 11:00 - 2:00
  • Red Line - 12/7 from 2:30 - 5:30
  • Red Line - 12/9 from 3:00 - 6:00
  • Purple Line - 12/8 from 3:00 - 6:00
  • Purple Line - 12/10 from 3:45 - 6:45
  • Red & Purple Line - 12/11 from 4:00 - 7:00
  • Pink Line - 12/14 from 2:30 - 5:30
  • Pink Line - 12/15 from 3:00 - 6:00
  • Blue Line - 12/16 from 3:00 - 6:00
  • Blue Line - 12/17 from 4:00 - 7:00
  • Blue Line - 12/18 from 4:00 - 7:00
  • Yellow Line - 12/22 from 3:00 - 7:00

This year there will NOT be any photo opportunities with Santa, but he will be waving to everyone as he pulls into each train.