Get into the Christmas spirit 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 kids are sure to have an unforgettable time on board.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway Santa Specials (30 Nov – 24 Dec)
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 on board 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, meet the donkeys from the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary or let the kids loose in the indoor fairground. Or, if you fancy a break just for two, splash out on a three-course candle-lit Christmas carvery train on 14th December.
Dartmouth Steam Railway Christmas (29 Nov - 30 Dec)
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”. On the Santa Express trains there’ll be mince pies and mulled wine for the adults and homemade biscuits for the kids, along with a gift from Father Christmas as he ho-ho-hos his way down the aisle. While the popular Train of Lights is a magical after-dark journey on a train decorated with thousands of glittering lights.
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.
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 Highley. During your journey, 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.
Take a steam train from the twinkly lights of Wroxham 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.
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 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. Or opt for the Winter Wonderlights for an evening of colourful festive joy.
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 in to 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 and rides on the beautiful Victorian carousel. On the 30th November, the Railway will have a more relaxed timetable, perfect for children with more specific needs.
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. Everyone gets to tuck in to mince pies and hot drinks, and the kids will each receive a Christmas pressie and an activity bag from the big man too. Regular performances with bands and choirs throughout the day at Pickering station add to the festive atmosphere. You can book to board the Santa Express for the weekends running up to Christmas, departing from Pickering or Grosmont.