Sensory-Friendly Holiday Happenings in Illinois

November 22nd, 2023

An older, dark-haired boy in a wheelchair smiles at the Christmas trees and holiday decorations that surround him

Fun, inclusive events the whole family can enjoy throughout Illinois!

How will you make memories this holiday season?

There are light displays, sensitive Santa opportunities, parades and more going on throughout Illinois.

Our Special Events page includes a roundup of opportunities designed specifically for youth with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

You can also browse this collection of special programs and event guides for opportunities to create some holiday magic and plenty of smiles:

We will continue to add holiday events and activities, so please check our Special Events page often throughout the season.

If you know of a good sensory-friendly event to share, please email us at

Please note, the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) is not involved in organizing or scheduling these holiday events. If you have questions about a specific event, please contact the event sponsor or organizer.

Santa Making Sensory-Friendly Stops Statewide

November 23rd, 2021

Santa with his bag and blowing magic snow out of his hand

Free Santa visits for children with autism and other special needs

Are you ready for some Santa magic?

Autism Speaks has partnered with Cherry Hill Programs to provide sensory-friendly Santa experiences nationwide.

In Illinois, Santa will be spreading joy and holiday cheer on Dec. 5 and 12.

Join Santa in a calmer, more subdued environment. He is planning stops in communities that include:

  • Aurora
  • Champaign
  • Chicago
  • Gurnee
  • Moline
  • Northbrook
  • Orland Park
  • Peoria
  • Rockford
  • Rosemont
  • Schaumburg
  • Springfield
  • Vernon Hills

These sensory-friendly Santa experiences are free. Keepsake photo packages are available to buy.

You can reserve your spot for the Santa experience online. (The organizers strongly encourage reservations.)

For more upcoming holiday events for children with special healthcare needs in Illinois, be sure to check our Special Events page often.