• Nov 3, 2017, 10:54 AM

Gurnee Mills Announces Holiday Season Experience

GURNEE, Ill. (Nov. 1, 2017) Gurnee Mills today announced a myriad of merry activities for Lake County families to enjoy at the mega-mall this holiday season. Kicking off the flurry of events is Santa’s Arrival Parade on Thursday, Nov. 9 (6 - 7 p.m.) beginning at Entry A and ending in the Dining Pavilion. As Santa navigates through the mall on an ATV, attendees can enjoy hot chocolate, milk and cookies, and a reading of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, by the big guy himself, as they embrace the holiday spirit for the cheerful weeks ahead.

Beginning at 10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 10, eager children and their families can experience the joy and magic of the holiday season with a visit to the Simon® Santa Photo Experience at Gurnee Mills. Children can whisper wishes and capture photo memories with Santa, through Sunday, Dec. 24, in the Macy’s Wing Dining Pavilion. New to this year, families can also upgrade their package and receive a text message or phone call from Santa. As Santa’s schedule varies, families planning their magical moment are encouraged to check for a complete list of dates and times, or families can save time and avoid the line with Santa by Appointment! Families may reserve their magical moment with Santa online at

“It’s that festive time of the year and Gurnee Mills is excited to once again bring quality, family-friendly holiday events to Lake County shoppers,” said Elizabeth Striegel, director of marketing and business development for Gurnee Mills. “Our special holiday programming is something on which we pride ourselves, and we look forward to the meaningful connections we’re able to make among the community and area organizations such as Catholic Charities (through Gurnee Mills’ holiday Giving Tree), Salvation Army/Toys for Tots, and local school and Scout groups.”

Caring Santa

Gurnee Mills and other Simon malls nationwide provide children with special needs and their families an opportunity to enjoy this time-honored holiday tradition through a sensory-friendly Caring Santa event in partnership with Autism Speaks. Caring Santa will occur on Sunday, Dec. 3 (9 - 10:30 a.m.) prior to mall opening. Guests can register in advance at Caring Santa events have expanded from seven Simon malls in 2011 to 108 Simon malls today, reflecting the positive impact of this unique program.

Pet Photo Night with Santa

For local pet owners who view their pet as an integral member of the family, the popular Pet Photo Night with Santa will occur on Sunday, Dec. 10 (6 - 8 p.m.). Pet Photo nights are hosted after regular mall closing and the set gets an extensive cleaning following the event to remove any potential risk to allergy sufferers.

Giving Tree with Catholic Charities

For more than 20 years, Gurnee Mills and its shoppers have helped make the holidays brighter for less fortunate neighbors through the Catholic Charities Giving Tree Program. The program is the largest of its kind in the country, serving nearly 15,000 people annually, including thousands in Lake County. Giving Trees, bearing ornaments with holiday wish lists from local children in need, will be on display Thursday, Nov. 9, to Friday, Dec. 15. Guests wishing to purchase a gift for a Giving Tree child can return their unwrapped gifts to the Gurnee Mills Management Office for pick-up by Catholic Charities.

102.3 XLC Wishes for Santa

As the first holiday collaboration between Gurnee Mills and WXLC, Lake County children will have the opportunity to write letters to Santa and share their holiday wishes. Beginning Thursday, Nov. 9, and running through Saturday, Dec. 16, near Dine-O-Rama and Entry J, children can share their Christmas wishes by popping their letters into Santa’s mailbox.

Gift Wrap for a Cause

In addition to being a valuable time-saver for busy shoppers, Gurnee Mills’ holiday gift wrapping service has proven to be a major annual fundraiser for local organizations, including Scout troops, charities and school clubs. Beginning Friday, Dec. 1, and extending through Sunday, Dec. 24, near Entry A, shoppers can take advantage of having their gifts wrapped while knowing they are also helping local community organizations.

North Chicago School District 187 Holiday Art Display

A tradition that began last holiday season and continues for this holiday season, shoppers can enjoy the artistic stylings of District 187’s elementary students’ winter themed artwork. From Friday, Dec. 1 until Sunday, Dec. 31, the Forrestal Elementary students’ art works will be on display within an exhibit in Center Court, near Entry F.

102.3 XLC All Day Holiday Celebration

On Friday, Dec. 8 (5 a.m. - 7 p.m.), 102.3 XLC and Gurnee Mills will join forces with the Salvation Army’s Toys for Tots program to support local families and children in need. Taking place in the Show Court, near Entry G, the All Day Holiday Celebration will kick off with a toy drive hosted by XLC’s Jimmy & Lisa, and continue with a full docket of seasonal entertainment, including a Caroling for Cash choir competition from which one lucky high school will receive $1,000, courtesy of Gurnee Mills, to help support its high school choir. There’ll also be an official tree lighting with Lake County elected officials.

Menorah Lighting

In celebration of Hanukkah, on Thursday, Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m., there will be a Menorah Lighting in the Show Court. This year’s Menorah will be eight feet high and made of LEGOs.

More about the Simon Photo Experience

Guests to every Simon Photo Experience will have an opportunity to share Santa’s heart by making a donation via The Cherry Hill Programs to Save the Children. For nearly 100 years, this non-profit has given underserved children in the U.S. a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Since this program began five years ago, Cherry Hill Programs has collected over $1,000,000 largely due to the generosity of Simon shoppers.

The Simon Santa Photo Experience is sponsored by GYMBOREE GROUP. The GYMBOREE GROUP is a specialty retailer operating stores selling high-quality apparel and accessories for children under the Gymboree, Gymboree Outlet, Janie and Jack, and Crazy 8 brands.

The 2017 Simon Santa Photo Experience is also sponsored by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment which is celebrating the highly-anticipated release of “Despicable Me 3,” available on Digital and Digital 3D, Nov. 21, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand, Dec. 5. Families visiting the Simon Santa Photo Experience will receive a fun-filled Despicable Me 3 activity sheet and be able to watch highlights from the movie.

Holiday Hours and Ongoing Seasonal Programming

For local families whose holiday bargain-hunting tradition heats up as soon as the turkey cools down, Gurnee Mills will again kick off the holiday shopping season at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 23. The center will stay open until midnight, then reopen, 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., on “Black Friday,” Nov. 24.

Throughout the month of December, Gurnee Mills shoppers will be delighted by roving carolers singing holiday favorites and a range of local performing groups.

For a complete list of extended holiday hours and special seasonal programming, visit

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About Gurnee Mills

Located at the intersection of Interstate 94 and Grand Avenue (IL 132) in Gurnee, Ill., Gurnee Mills is the largest shopping destination of its kind in the Chicago area, featuring an unparalleled selection of nearly 200 outlet, full-price retailers, along with standout dining and entertainment offerings, all under one roof. Top-name brands include Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Forever 21, H&M, Guess Factory Store, Gap Outlet, Nike Clearance Store, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, LEGO Brand Retail Store, Charming Charlie, and a full-line Macy’s. For more information, call (847) 263-2414, visit, or follow Gurnee Mills on Facebook.

About Simon

Simon is a global leader in retail real estate ownership, management and development and a S&P100 company (Simon Property Group, NYSE:SPG). Our industry-leading retail properties and investments across North America, Europe and Asia provide shopping experiences for millions of consumers every day and generate billions in annual retail sales. For more information, visit

About Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE - is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios. Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.