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Santa from Times Past

Santa has a long and interesting history in America. If you are nostalgic, and yearn for that Christmas of long ago, then you’ll want to check out the Santa events mentioned below. Here are some of the places in Northern Illinois and the Chicago area that like to preserve the traditional ways holiday’s were once celebrated. Find out what Christmas was like in the early days of this country, up until the first part of the twentieth century. You can visit quaint villages, historic farms, museums and homes that offer historic Santa type activities that will evoke wonderful feelings for yule times from past eras. See what life was really like in the days before everything became commercialized.

       Dates, times & cost for all events listed are subject to change.



Santa Saturdays at the Driehaus Museum
Saturday December 1st, 8th & 15th 2018

Sponsor: Driehaus Museum
40 E. Erie Street
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 482-8933 for details and reservations                                                                                       Times: check with the museum
Cost: Children 12 years and under $10; under two free; Adults $15

The Magnificent Mile's Driehaus Museum—the magnificently restored home that transports visitors back to Chicago's Gilded Age at the turn of the 19th century—hosts this family Christmas event. This elegantly furnished home is near downtown Chicago. It is one of the few remaining places, where children can take a trip back in time to visit with Santa for two special December Saturdays in the original splendor of a truly palatial residence. Celebrate Christmas traditions from another time. During the morning there will be holiday art projects, cookie decorating and of course visits and a complimentary picture with Santa in the gaily decorated ballroom.                                                 


                                                        Photos courtesy Driehaus Museum


                                     Exterior of the Driehaus Museum at Christmas time


Santa at Christmas on the Farm in Geneva
Saturday, December 15th, 2018
Sponsor: Geneva Park District
Event at: Peck Farm Park
4038 Kaneville Road.
Geneva, IL 60134
For more information
(630) 232-4542
Times: - 4pm to 7pm

This is your chance to enjoy Christmas from the past on a historic old farm. Mrs. Claus will be telling a story around the fireplace and don't be surprised if you find the old guy in the red suit there as well! Enjoy Christmas Carolers, ice sculpting, cookies and cocoa and a day the children won't soon forget.

                                                              Photo of Peck Farm House courtesy Geneva Park District


Country Christmas & Dessert with Santa in Glenview
Sunday, November 25th, Wednesday, November 28th, & Thursday, November 29th, 2018
Sponsor: The Grove National Historic Landmark
Event at: Pioneer Log Cabin and Redfield Estate
1421 Milwaukee Ave.
Glenview, IL 60025
reservations required
For information: (847) 299-6096
Times: - call or check website for details
Cost: $15 residents, $18 non-residents

You can step into the Santa from past times activities at one of the area’s most unique outdoor history and nature museums. This is a delightful two hour program where first you meet at the Interpretive Center, then take a hike to the grove's pioneer log cabin in the woods to help decorate the Christmas tree, make crafts and enjoy the sights and sounds of a country Christmas. After that, take a walk to the historic Redfield Center to enjoy refreshments, decorate cookies & visit with Santa and have your picture taken with the old fellow.

                        log cabin

                                       Pioneer Log Cabin at the Grove


Hoffman Estates

Santa at the Teddy Bear Holiday Tea in Hoffman Estates
Saturday December 1st 2018

Sponsor: Historical Sites Commission
Event at: Sunderlage Farmhouse
1775 Vista Lane
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
reservations required
To book: (847) 781-2606
Time: 1pm - to 3pm

The Teddy Bear Holiday Tea is a Hoffman Estates tradition that is held every December in the historic Sunderlage Farm House which dates from 1856. It was originally part of the Volkening farm and now has been designated a historic site. The Christmas tree in the farmhouse is decorated with teddy bears whose popularity goes back to the time of President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. According to legend, he let a bear cub go during one of his hunting trips. Because of numerous newspaper stories and articles from that era, teddy bears then became a thing of affection for small children. As every child knows, “teddy bears have lost none of their popularity, even in this day and age. Santa will join in the festivities at the Teddy Bear Holiday Tea, where there will be plenty of refreshments—each child who attends will receive a gift. This event starts at 1 pm sharp, be on time.


                                 Sunderlage House
                 Sunderlage Farmhouse in Hoffman Estates



Santa at His Workshop in the Springbrook Nature Center in Itasca

Friday, December 7th & Saturday, December 8th, 2018
Sponsor: Springbrook Nature Center
Event at: 130 Forest Avenue
Itasca, IL 60143
For information: (630) 773-4524                                                                                     Times: 5:30 pm - 8 pm, Friday, December 8th;                                                              11 am - 1:30 pm, Saturday, December 9th
Cost: FREE SANTA EVENT                                                                                      Join Santa for a great day at his workshop in the historic old farm at the Springbrood Nature Center in Itasca. The Center is always beautifully decorated for the holiday season—there will be cookies and hot chocolate and time to do a craft by the fire. Be sure to bring a camera, because you’ll want to get a picture of the kids with Santa.


                                                      Photo courtesy Itasca Park District


Santa at Once Upon a Christmas in Lisle
Saturday, December 2nd

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017
Sponsor: The Museums at Lisle Station Park
921 School Street
Lisle, IL 60532
LINK to "Once Upon a Christmas"

reservations required
for more information: (630) 968-0499

Cost: FREE SANTA EVENT                                                                                            Times: 3 pm - 8 pm Saturday, December 2nd
11 am - 4 pm Sunday, December 3rd

The museum hosts a great day from the past for kids where they will find Santa at an 1800's era Christmas celebration. Activities at the Lisle Station Park include old-time crafts, music, brick oven baking, black-smithing, hay rides, a model trains display from by gone days, along with Santa and live reindeer.                                     

                                   Photo courtesyThe Museums at Lisle Station Park



Father Christmas on the Farm in Schaumburg
Saturday December 1st & Sunday December 2nd 2018

Sponsor: Schaumburg Park District
Event at: Spring Valley Heritage Farm

and Merkle Log Cabin
Spring Valley Nature Center
1111 E. Schaumburg Road
Schaumburg, IL 60194
For Information: (847) 985-2100
Times: 12noon to 4pm both days
Cost: $3 per person or $12 for a family of six or less—children 3 and under are free

This is a chance to return to Christmases of the 1880s for a look at when Schaumburg was a rural farm community. Both adults and children can experience what it was like to prepare a Christmas meal on a wood stove. Also, see what farm chores had to be done, and participate in old time holiday activities and games of the 1880s, as well as visit the farm’s livestock. Authentically dressed interpreters welcome and lead visitors through the site. The event includes refreshments, holiday treats and crafts. Children will never forget their visit with the traditional Father Christmas—the forerunner of today’s Santa Claus, at the gaily decorated log cabin.

                                    Volkening Heritage Farm

                                       The log cabin at Volkening Heritage Farm

West Chicago

Santa at Christmas on the Kline Creek Farm
Saturday, December 8th                                                                            Sunday, December 9th 2018

Sponsor: Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
Event at: Kline Creek Farm
1N600 County Farm Road
West Chicago, IL 60185
reservations not required
For Information: (630) 876-5900
Time: 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

The Kline Creek Farm is farm life as it existed in the 1890’s on an Illinois farm. Costumed interpreters help recreate life as it was really lived in those days. On one weekend in December you get to come to the farm and see what a nineteenth century Christmas was like. You’ll learn the origins of some early holiday traditions. The children can visit with a Santa from another time and then have their picture taken in a sleigh. They can warm themselves by the fire while enjoying caroling and hot apple cider.


                   Christmas on the Farm - Photo courtesy Forest Preserve District                                                                                                 


Santa at Christmas at the Lyon Farm and Village in Yorkville
Sunday, December 2nd & 9th 2018

Sponsor: The Kendall County Historical Society
Lyon Farm and Village
Located on Route 71 south of Van Emmon
Yorkville, IL 60560
(630) 553-6777
Time: 1pm to 4pm                                                                                               Cost: $4 admission for all ages. Children under 2 are free

The Lyon farm and village is operated by the Kendall County Historical Society. For two Sundays in December kids get to experience what an old time Christmas was like. Tables are set up with different holiday crafts. This exciting day includes a train display around the Christmas tree and naturally, they get to meet, and have their picture taken with Santa Claus. A story teller will read some holiday classics and they can enjoy roasted chestnuts and cookie icing.


                                  Photo courtesy The Kendall County Historical Society


Please note—all of the above events are subject to change without notice

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