Discover Where ‘Elf’ Was Filmed

Holiday flags and the Christmas tree on a windy night in Rockefeller Center, New York City.
© andykazie/ via Getty Images

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Published: December 27, 2023

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Elf has become a Christmas classic. This excellent Holiday film was released in the United States on November 7, 2003. As of December 2023, the film is rated 7.1 on IMDb and 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a silly, light-hearted film starring big names like Will Ferrel, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, and Peter Dinklage. But where was ‘Elf’ filmed? Did it take long? Find out where ‘Elf’ was filmed and more about this fun Christmas movie.

Mischievous Elf On The Shelf Sat On A Christmas Tree Branch Holding A Bauble.

Elves are a symbol of Christmas and the Holidays. Some people even play a game called Elf on the Shelf.

©Dean Clarke/

What is Elf About?

Spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk. Elf tells the story of a human, Buddy, who was raised by elves. He went most of his life thinking he was also an elf. Buddy was a baby at an orphanage and crawled into Santa’s sack, traveling to the North Pole.

As an adult, Buddy hears that he is an Elf and sets forth to find his biological father. Buddy’s biological father is a grumpy businessman (Walter) who works at a children’s book publishing company in New York City.

Walter, at first, has no idea who Buddy is, but after a DNA test, he accepts him into his home. He is unhappy at first but grows close to him throughout the film. Buddy also finds love, falling for Jovi, a woman working at the mall with a gorgeous singing voice. As you can imagine, throughout the movie, his family doesn’t believe that Buddy was raised as an elf and is confused. They begin to believe, though, as Christmas is threatened when Santa’s sleigh crashes into the ground. Jovi loses her fear of singing and leads the crowd by singing, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.” With the spirit of Christmas, the day is saved.

Discover Where ‘Elf’ Was Filmed

Times Square Colours

Many parts of the film Elf were shot in New York City. New York City is home to over 8 million people.

©Beck Hobson/iStock via Getty Images

Elf has a runtime of one hour and 37 minutes. Although not very long, there are multiple filming locations. While watching, you may have spotted iconic New York City scenery. Elf was filmed in New York City (New York), Vancouver, and at Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Many scenes in Elf were shot in the Textile Building at 295 5th Avenue. This building served as the¬†Gimbels Department Store. Gimbels was a real department store, too, but closed in 1987, way before the filming of Elf. The film’s iconic New York City spots include the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink, Grand Central Terminal, and the Lincoln Tunnel.

Wildlife in the Filming Locations

Now we know where ‘Elf’ was filmed, we can dive into the many animals that call these filming spots home. Follow along to learn about a few animals that live in New York City, Vancouver, and British Columbia.

New York City

Most people don’t visit New York City to view animals but instead to go sightseeing and visit incredible historic landmarks. Still, many animals call this vibrant international city home. For instance, New York City is a great place to go bird-watching. While here, you can find house sparrows, blue jays, American robins, mourning doves, scarlet tanagers, and more. You may spot other animals in this large city: brown rats, whitetail deer, eastern cottontails, groundhogs, and big brown bats. You can also take a boat tour to see marine animals like dolphins and seals.

Central Park Autumn and buildings reflection in midtown Manhattan New York City

New York City has a surface area of around 470 square miles.

©Songquan Deng/


Vancouver is large. It has a surface area of about 47 square miles. The metro area is even larger, with a surface area of 1,111.56 square miles. With this size, you can only begin to imagine how many animals you can find. Within Vancouver, there are over 500 species of birds. There are also more than 140 mammals and 400 species of fish. Some specific animals in this Canadian city include bald eagles, beavers, and Yuma Myotis bats.

Yuma Myotis bats live in Vancouver.

©Daniel Neal from Sacramento, CA, US / CC BY 2.0 – Original / License


The last filming spot on our list is in British Columbia, Coquitlam. Coquitlam is a Canadian city within Metro Vancouver. It has a surface area of 58.9 square miles. There is so much green space within this city that it’s easy to understand why many animals call it home. While here, some animals you may spot include American black bears, mallards, cedar waxwings, common yellow-throats, painted turtles, muskrats, snowshoe hares, and Northwestern salamanders.

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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