8 unmissable Christmas steam train experiences for 2021

Leave last year's disappointments behind - Christmas 2021 is coming round fast, bringing with it lots of things to look forward to. Get into the festive spirit this winter by boarding any one of these classic steam trains in England. From meet and greets with a certain Mr Claus to illuminated rides through the countryside, the whole family are sure to have an unforgettable time on board these fabulous Christmas trains. 

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Isle of Wight Steam Railway Santa Specials

Havenstreet Station

Santa exiting train on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Enter a sparkling Winter Wonderland, full of festive music, seasonal market stalls and children’s entertainment, before hopping on an express train to the ‘North Pole’. While onboard this majestic locomotive, you’ll get to meet Santa and his elves who’ll be handing out gifts as you cruise through the island’s wintery landscape. Once back at the station, let the kids loose to enjoy the array of entertainment on offer throughout the day.

If you fancy a break just for two, splash out on a three-course candle-lit Christmas carvery train.

Climb aboard this epic Christmas train

Bure Valley's Festive Express

Aylsham Station

Take a steam train from the twinkly lights of Aylsham Station in Norfolk to Santa’s Grotto, where Father Christmas will greet you from his railway sleigh, filled with yule-time gifts for all the kids. While at the Grotto, there will be songs, games and refreshments for everyone – think mulled punch and mince pies – as well as time to get a few snaps with the main man himself. Running for over 25 years, these festive-themed journeys are always a hit so get in quick.

Have the ultimate Christmas day out

Dartmouth Steam Railway's Train of Lights


Steam train covered in neon lights making its way through the forest

Steaming through wooded glades and along the south Devon coastline, the Dartmouth Steam Railway’s Christmas services are guaranteed to get filed under “warm and fuzzy Christmas Memories”.

For 2021, instead of boarding the Santa Express, you'll be whisked away on the awe-inspiring Train of Lights (and don't worry - Santa will still be delivering some festive gifts!). This award-winning steam train experience is a magical after-dark journey on a train decorated with thousands of glittering lights - both inside and out. After leaving Queen's Park Station in Paignton, you'll embark on an unforgettable journey through an enchanted forest filled with twinkling light displays before enjoying the train's vibrant reflection along the River Dart. 

Feast your eyes on the Train of Lights

East Lancashire Railway Santa Specials

Bury Bolton Street Station

Colourful fairy lights leading to railway platform

You’ll hear the brass band play traditional carols before your eyes meet a platform decked out with hundreds of Christmas trees and sparkling decorations at Bury Bolton Street Station. On your journey to Rawtenstall, inside warm vintage carriages, you’ll meet Santa and his crew as they hand out gifts and spread Christmas cheer. Grown-ups get a Christmas tipple and mince pie too as you’re pulled through the Lancastrian countryside by a handsome locomotive.

Step into a Christmas wonderland

Great Central Railway’s Santa Steam Trains

Loughborough Central Station

An hour of enchantment awaits as the young and young at heart chug their way from Loughborough to Leicester North. On a Santa train, have a chat with St Nicholas himself and make sure everything is in order for the big day –  he’ll even give you a present in person and there’ll be enough tasty treats on board to keep the whole family refreshed.

For an evening of colourful festive joy, opt for the Winter Wonderlights steam train ride to witness the railway like you've never seen it before..

Meet Father Christmas this winter

Severn Valley Railway Santa Specials

Kidderminster Station

Elf in facemask standing at front of steam train

Roasted chestnuts, live music and festive magic fill the air at Kidderminster station in Worcestershire, where you board your vintage steam train to the village of Arley, where'll you be treated to an extra special Christmas stage show. On the way back, Father Christmas passes through the tinsel-clad carriages handing out gifts to all the children, and stopping to chat about what they’d like for Christmas morning.

Enjoy a festive steam train ride

Kent & East Sussex Railway Santa Specials

Tenterden Station

Kent & East Sussex Railway train in the snow

Roll through the south-eastern landscape on a festively decorated steam train. Look out for Santa and his handy elves with their sacks full of goodies, and tuck into mince pies and chocolate as you pass fields of green (or white – fingers crossed!). When you arrive back at Tenterden, there’ll be ample time for family photographs, rides on the beautiful Victorian carousel and a visit to the station's Christmas model village.

Take the ultimate Christmas break

North York Moors Railway’s Santa Specials

Pickering Station

Santa warming hands on steam train engine

Kids will be doubly excited to go through their list with Santa in his special grotto on-board the North York Moors Railway's Santa Express. Travel through the stunning North York Moors National Park on an old-school steam train and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in beautifully decorated heritage carriages. You'll embark on an adventure the whole family will never forget. 

Get tickets for this fabulous Santa Express
06 Oct 2021(last updated)

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    Havenstreet Station

  • 2

    Aylsham Station

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  • 4

    Bury Bolton Street Station

  • 5

    Loughborough Central Station

  • 6

    Kidderminster Station

  • 7

    Tenterden Station

  • 8

    Pickering Station

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