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CTA Holiday Train
Photograph: Grace DuVal

CTA Holiday Train season in Chicago has arrived

Zach Long

If the opening of Christkindlmarket, tomorrow's City of Chicago Christmas Tree lighting ceremony or next week's ZooLights opening doesn't get you in the spirit of the holiday season, maybe you need to ride a train festooned with colorful bulbs. The Chicago Transit Authority's Holiday Train will ride the rails throughout the city beginning on Friday, November 29, providing you with the opportunity to cram yourself onto the most festive form of public transportation that humankind has devised.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Christmas in Chicago

The CTA Holiday Train typically runs between Tuesday and Saturday, with trips scheduled on every CTA train line through Monday, December 23. The six-car train is covered with lights, garlands, ribbons and candy stripes inside and out, accompanied by a flatbed car that brings Santa and his reindeer along for the ride. You'll usually see the train between 1pm to 8pm on weekends and 3pm to 7pm on weekdays—there's a detailed schedule on the CTA's website.

As in past years, a six-car Elves' Workshop Train will follow the Holiday Train on its busy Saturday journeys, providing more room for passengers who crowd platforms along the train's route. Keep your FOMO at bay—the Elves' Workshop Train is decked out with just as many decorations as the Holiday Train.

Looking for additional mobile displays of holiday cheer? The CTA's Holiday Bus is back on the streets this year, beginning with a trip on the Milwaukee Avenue #56 route on Tuesday, November 26. The exterior of the bus is decorated with a pair of reindeer antlers and a glowing red nose, while the interior sports custom seats, strings of lights, candy-striped poles and a sleigh that you'll find Santa sitting in at the back of the bus. Figure out which route the Holiday Bus is traversing on the CTA's website and keep tabs on its exact location using the Holiday Bus Tracker.

Take a look at the complete Holiday Train schedule below—maybe this is the year that you get lucky and snag a spot in one of the glittering cars on your commute home from work?

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