We’ve Got the Nicest List of All: All the Local Spots for Free Photos with Santa in 2022

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Meet Santa and get the photo opportunity you need this Christmas for your kids, all for free! This Christmas, we’ve got your back with a list to opportunities for where you’ll find St. Nick for a photo op. Some of these are drop-in opportunities, while others require you to register in advance, so be sure to click the links provided in order to register if need be. Make this a Christmas to remember with photos to remind you of the holiday season.

(Pssst: Want to see all of the opportunities for photos with Santa, not just the free ones? Head to our list of Where to See Santa for photo opportunities galore!)

2022 Free Photos with Santa in Chicago’s West Suburbs and beyond

Santa Arrives by Helicopter (Melrose Park)
November 19, 2022 | 12:00pm onwards
Free photos with Santa with same-day receipt showing a spend of $25 from any Winston Plaza store. Otherwise, photos are $5 each.

Pictures With Santa at The Hage Insurance Agency (Crete)
November 26, 2022 | 10:00am – 12:00pm
Cookies and drinks will be provided at this event and more family fun is guaranteed at the log cabin. Be sure to reserve your tickets today.

Tree Lighting (Elmhurst)
December 1, 2022 | 1:00pm – 5:30pm
Hosted by the Elmhurst Park District, enjoy family games, music and photo opportunities with Santa.

Free Photos with Santa (Wheaton)
December 3, 2022 | 1:00pm – 5:00pm
This free event will be held in downtown Wheaton, sponsored by local businesses. Registration is required.

Celebrate the Season Holiday Festival at Cantigny (Wheaton)
December 3, 2022 | 1:00pm – 7:00pm
There is a parking fee of $5 to enter Cantigny and activities during the day from story time with Mrs. Claus, ornament decorating, photos with Rudolph and Frosty and, of course, with Santa are all available at no cost.

Once upon a Christmas (Lisle)
December 3, 2022 | 4:00pm – 7:30pm
Visit Santa and Mrs. Claus while enjoying hot chocolate and crafts to fit the holidays.

Joyful Traditions 2022 (Villa Park)
December 3, 2022 | 4:00 pm – 8:00pm
This annual event has been running for 23 years. Get free photos with not only Santa but Mickey and The Grinch and a chance to ride in a trolley while enjoying festive decorations.

Santa at the Gazebo (Aurora)
December 3 and 10, 2022 | 1:00pm – 3:00pm
An event organized by Aurora Downtown. Visit Santa for a photo opportunity for families and their pets.

Free Photos with Santa (Downers Grove)
December 4, 2022 | 11:00 am – 2:00pm
Organized by Baird & Warner in Downers Grove, Santa will be around for photos along with refreshments and holiday cheer.

Holiday Lights in Lilacia Park (Lombard)
December 4, 9, 10, 11, 16 and 17 2022 | 4:30pm – 10:00pm
While the holiday lights run from December 3, 2022 to January 2nd, 2023, the dates listed above have Santa visits. On select days, he will be accompanied by magical elves, Mrs. Claus and more.

Storytime and Cookies (Niles)
December 10, 2022 | 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Happening at Golf Mill Shopping Center, this event includes a storytime, music with a DJ, face painting, balloon twisters, giveaways, arts & craft activities,, free photos with Santa Claus and more.

Visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus (Deer Park)
December 10, 2022 | 1:00 pm – 3:00pm
Photos will be outdoors with Santa and Mrs. Claus with no option for professional photos so be sure to bring your phone or camera. Reservations are required, one per family.

Holly Jolly Jamboree (Gregg House Museum, Westmont)
December 10, 2022 | 1:00pm – 4:00pm
There is a cost of the main event, however the photos with Santa are a free add on. Make a popcorn garland and ornaments, visit the face painter, play games, and visit with the big guy for your free family digital photo.

Santa Spectacular (Burr Ridge)
December 17, 2022 | 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Santa will be ready for photos in Hampton Social and there will be live reindeer along at this event. Hot cocoa and cookies will be available at this event.

Events Spanning the Season

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro (Bolingbrook)
November 5 – December 24, 2022
Make a reservation online starting October 30th, 2022 for a free photo with Santa. Reservations are limited, so be sure to register to secure your spot. Tip: spots seem to open day off too, so check during the day for time options.

Macy’s Holiday Celebrations (Chicago)
November 5 – December 24 2022 | Hours vary by different days, refer to the calendar on the website
Reservations are required to see Santa and are available five days in advance of the day for photos. Average wait times are between 30 to 90 minutes.

Lincoln Park ZooLights (Chicago)
November 19, 20, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 30, 2022 | 4:30pm – 10:00pm
December 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 2022 | 4:30pm – 10:00pm
January 1, 2023 | 4:30pm – 10:00pm
Tickets are now available online for $5 for all dates except for Mondays. Reservations are still needed for the free nights. Families can take a photo with Santa at the Helen Brach Primate House nightly from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through December 23.

Holiday Homecoming (St. Charles)
November 28 – December 18, 2022 | 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Stop by the East First Street Plaza at the Santa House for photos with Santa.

Christmas in the Commons (New Lennox)
Every Saturday and Sunday in December 2022 | 4:00pm – 8:00pm
A personal favorite event that my family visits annually, this event features a lights display along with a 50-foot tall light-up Santa Claus and other activities, including visits from Santa for photos at no cost.

Looking for more chances to catch Santa? Check out our list for where to see Santa in the near western suburbs. It includes in-person and virtual visits!

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  • Cantigny Park (Wheaton) will have free photos with Santa this Saturday, Dec 3, at Celebrate the Season. Hours are 4 to 7 pm. The festival is free; parking is $5 per car. Mistletoe Market is also this Saturday, from 1 to 7 pm.


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