Shillito’s Elves are back in 2023!

The spirit of the holiday season comes alive like never before with the unveiling of an enchanting Christmas display that takes visitors on a captivating journey into the heart of Santa’s Workshop. This immersive experience, proudly presented by the Mariemont Inn, brings together the beloved historic Shillito’s Elves and the magic of Christmas to create a world of wonder and joy.

See the Shillito Elves starting November 24th through December 30th, 2023 across from the Mariemont Inn.

Visitors to this magical display will be transported into a realm of holiday enchantment, where they can witness the animated scenes of Santa’s Workshop, including the historic Shillito’s Elves busily crafting toys for children around the world. This unique holiday experience is very similar to the original walk-through SantaLand and blends newer technology with the timeless charm of Christmas traditions. This display is wheelchair accessible.

What to Expect

  • Interactive Displays: Step into a world of whimsy with 14 largely original animated scenes of Santa’s Workshop, where nearly 60 of the nostalgic Shillito’s Elves are hard at work, crafting toys with precision and care. The story begins with elves sorting out this season’s letters to Santa in the mailroom and ends where Santa’s sleigh is loaded with toys to deliver on Christmas Eve.
  • Relive your Childhood: Native Cincinnatians may recognize the display from years ago, and for good reason. Its origin dates to the Shillito’s Department Store display from 1979 and years following. At that time more than 130 animated figures were created from scratch by local talent to fill 10 interior scenes, seven storefront windows, and more than 20 other merchandising windows throughout the store.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture unforgettable moments at specially designed photo spots throughout the display. Share your cherished memories with family and friends.
  • Express Mailbox to the North Pole: Bring your letter to Santa and mail it in the elves’ oversized mailbox. With special holiday magic, this enchanting mailbox can whisk all of its letters directly to Santa’s mailroom where elves busily sort bags and bags of letters.

mariemont shillito's elves

Event Details

  • Location: 6940 Madisonville Road, Mariemont, Ohio, 45227 (Across from the Mariemont Inn)
  • Date: Open November 24th through December 30th. Closed on Christmas Day. Extended days the week leading up to Christmas.
  • Time: Thursdays and Fridays from 2pm to 7:30pm. Saturday and Sundays from 10am to 7:30pm. Christmas Eve from 10am to 4:30pm.
  • Ticket Information: Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5. Visit the website or social media regularly for the latest news, events and possible weather-related closures.

The Shillito’s Elves are a long-standing Cincy tradition. Window displays are a fun blast from the past — and the Shillito’s Elves have always been next-level. More than 130 animated figures originally filled Shillito’s downtown store, bringing Santa’s Workshop to life through seven storefront scenes, 20 in-store merchandising widows and 10 interior vignettes. Moved by levers and gears, the elves spent the holidays building toys, sorting Santa’s mail and loading his sleigh. Then, in 1982, Shillito’s became Lazarus… and the elves disappeared.

Fast forward 30+ years to 2006, when the Elves were brought back to life by Cincinnatian Bill Spinnenweber, whose family owns the Mariemont Inn. After a few moves, the Elves found a new home in Downtown Mariemont, next to LaRosa’s and across from the National Exemplar.

These scenes are elaborate and whimsical and humorous — definitely unlike any other holiday exhibit in Cincinnati. Santa’s Workshop is unique Cincinnati tradition that’s been enjoyed by generations of Cincy kids.

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