Sensory-Friendly Holiday Events Happening Across Illinois
Events feature sensitive Santa, holiday lights, craft activities and more!
Are you looking for sensory-friendly events that the whole family can enjoy this holiday season?
There are a number of sensitive Santa opportunities, festivals and other holiday activities going on across Illinois.
Our Special Events page includes a roundup of opportunities designed specifically for youth with disabilities and special healthcare needs.
Here’s a look at some of the special programs available and other event guides for parts of the state:
- The Secret Sleigh Project coordinates volunteers to provide in-home Santa visits to children who are medically fragile nationwide. See our Secret Sleigh event listing for more details on how to request a visit.
- The National Federation of the Blind is offering letters from Santa and winter celebration letters in Braille to children who are blind or have low vision. The program is for children 10 years old and younger. Please complete the letter request form by Dec. 17. Letters are available in English or Spanish. If you have any questions, call (410) 659-9314, ext. 2236, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Santa Cares program from Autism Speaks and Cherry Hill Programs provides sensory-friendly Santa experiences in Illinois and the St. Louis area on Dec. 4. These visits are free. Keepsake photo packages will be available for purchase. Reservations are required. Visit the Santa Cares website for a complete list of Santa’s stops. Be sure to select “Santa Cares”, “Caring Santa” or “Sensitive Santa” when checking your location. (Note some event dates may vary. Please check your location to confirm your date and time.)
- For families in the Chicagoland area, Chicago Parent magazine provides a list that includes opportunities to visit with Santa and other events tailored to the needs of children with disabilities.
- In central Illinois, check out this list from ChambanaMoms.com for events within driving distance of the Champaign-Urbana area or this list of seasonal light displays and events from the Mahomet Daily.
- SpringfieldMoms.org’s seasonal guide provides a roundup of activities happening in the capital city area.
- Southern Illinois residents can find many fun, seasonal activities on SI Families’ event calendar. It’s packed with ideas including a drive-thru Santa event in Marion, the Lights Fantastic Parade in Carbondale and even a “Home Alone” drive-in movie event at Murphysboro High School.
- The animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo, St. Louis Zoo, and other zoos throughout Illinois are celebrating the season, too! Contact your local zoo to find out what’s happening and when.
Please note, the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) is not involved in the organizing or scheduling of these holiday events. If you have questions about a specific event, please contact the event sponsor or organizer.