Well fa-la-la and ho-ho-ho, the CTA has released the 2023 schedule for its wildly popular Holiday Train and Holiday Bus.
The bow on top of this gift? Photos with Santa are back for the first time since 2019.
The Holiday Train will run Nov. 24 through Dec. 21 and we’re going to cut straight to the chase — here’s when to expect the magical train on each rail line:
— Green Line: Nov. 24, 25 and 28. Photos with Santa on Nov. 25.
— Orange Line: Nov. 24 and Nov. 28 (in tandem with Green), Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 (in tandem with Brown). Photos with Santa on Dec. 2.
— Brown Line: Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 (in tandem with Orange). Photos with Santa on Dec. 2.
— Red Line: Dec. 5 and Dec. 7; Dec. 9 in tandem with Purple. Photos with Santa on Dec. 9
— Purple Line: Dec. 6 and Dec. 8; Dec. 9 in tandem with Red. Photos with Santa on Dec. 9.
— Pink Line: Dec. 12-13.
— Blue Line: Dec. 14-16; photos with Santa on Dec. 16.
— Yellow Line: Dec. 21.
The Holiday Bus will run Nov. 28 through Dec. 22, popping up on more than a dozen routes across the city.
Tips from CTA to make your experience full of cheer instead of angst:
— Make sure your camera or phone is charged and be prepared to hand it over to a CTA employee, who will use your device to take your picture with Santa.
— Allow for extra travel time. If you’re in a rush to make an appointment, the Holiday Train is not for you.
— Use Train Tracker to keep tabs on Santa; a candy cane will indicate the Holiday Train. A dedicated Holiday Bus tracker will St. Nick’s route on the streets.
— Travel light. Small collapsible strollers are encouraged to make room for as many holiday passengers as possible.
— Consider boarding at a station near the beginning of the route, when the train is less crowded. For more elbow room, try a railcar toward the front or back of the train, which tend to be less popular than the cars closest to Santa’s sleigh.