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Santa Specials - Where to See Santa on a Train - North East and Beyond



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Santa Special, Santa Express, Polar Express - There are so many different names for these popular, festive train services and this year, there are plenty to choose from, across the North East and beyond.

Various heritage railways offer a differing range of magical experiences at various prices. When our boys were younger, we were regular visitors to the Santa Specials on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The boys loved these visits, but we have also heard good things about some of the experiences offered by other railways.


Some of the railways across the region are yet to announce full details, but here is a guide to what had been announced so far.

This post will be updated whenever we receive any further details.


North Yorkshire Moors Railway Santa Specials - 25, 26 November and 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24 December.

£30 per person. Includes a gift and backpack for each child.

"Families can climb on board and make some enchanting memories on this ultimate festive day out from either Pickering or Grosmont Station and enjoy an enchanting Christmas experience to see Mr Claus and his jolly helpers pass through the heritage carriages. Visitors can also expect to meet the legendary man himself, with a special gift for all the children onboard - providing they’ve managed to stay on the nice list this year. Santa’s Helpers will also be on the hour-long return journey for all the festive fun and games."




Aln Valley Railway Details coming soon

Credit Aln Valley

Stephenson Railway Elf Express - 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24 December

£16 - £22 per person. Group tickets also available for private compartments.

General sale booking opens on Friday 4th August

"Make this Christmas a real cracker with a trip on board our famous Elf Express! Meet our Chief Elf as well as Santa Claus himself and enjoy an interactive Christmas performance before jumping on board a heritage locomotive! There’ll be live entertainment, Christmas music, lots of photo opportunities, refreshments and a special present from Santa for every child."

Credit Stephenson Railway

Heatherslaw Railway Santa Specials - 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th December

£16 per person. Gift included

"Passengers are invited for a return journey from Heatherslaw along our magically extended line to the 'North Pole Station'. The trains will be hauled by steam* locomotives Bunty, and Lady Augusta.

*Diesel may be substituted if necessary.

Santa will welcome families at the North Pole Station and present each child with a quality gift whilst his helpers entertain the rest of the passengers.

Refreshments will be available to purchase separately. "

Credit Heatherslaw Railway

Weardale Railway - Santa Specials - Various dates from 25 November - 24 December

£25 per person including gift, drink and cookie.

All aboard for a magical journey through the Weardale countryside this Christmas! Four trains a day will depart from a festively decorated 'Santahope' Station at 1030, 1240, 1450 and 1700 (except for Christmas Eve when only the 1030 and 1240 services will operate). The journey will take approximately an hour and you will be accompanied throughout by Santa’s elves and our team.

Meet Santa and Mrs Claus with every child receiving a gift from Santa!

The whole experience will last approximately 2 hours with the opportunity to visit the 'Story Train' and participate in Christmas activities.



Tanfield Railway - Usually run The North Pole Express, but no details released yet.




Wensleydale Railway The Polar Express - Various dates from 10 November - 23 December

Various ticket options starting from £31.95 plus booking fee per person

"Your journey begins just like THE POLAR EXPRESS motion picture when THE POLAR EXPRESS™ will pick you up at Leeming Bar station to take you on your Christmas journey. You will get to meet the characters from the film including the conductor, the singing chefs, the hobo and of course the main man himself Father Christmas. Join families, couples and just those big kids who believe in our magical train ride.

Throughout your journey, you may tangle with the caribou and other magical happenings, as you have the original story of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ told to you by the singing Chefs. Don’t forget to have a bite of your cookie and a sip of authentic hot chocolate before meeting the main man himself Santa Claus.

Santa will join you on board and, if you are on the nice list, hand you your first gift of Christmas, a Silver Sleigh Bell just as in the motion picture we all love. You will get to say hello to Santa as he hands you your first gift of Christmas and he may even sign your THE POLAR EXPRESS™ book which is available to purchase with your tickets.

Once you arrive back at the station your journey head into our magical gift shop with the largest collection of THE POLAR EXPRESS 2023 Train Ride merchandise and exclusive gifts in the country!"




Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Elf Explorer 25 & 26 November, 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 & 21 - 24 December

£20 - £28 - Including Gift, Juice Box, Choc Coins, Mulled Wine & Mince Pie

"A magical Christmas experience that is guaranteed to light up your children’s faces and get the whole family in the mood for the Festive Season. This theatrical journey on board a beautiful steam train is the perfect way to travel, and we know that Father Christmas thinks so too…!

Kicking off with The Elf Show to start the story, with a visit from Father Christmas on the steam hauled train."


Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway No details released yet

Credit Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway The Polar Express Various dates from 18 November - 24 December

Prices from £33.95

"The anticipation amongst the passengers is incredible. With everyone wrapped up warm in their cosiest pyjamas, all guests will climb aboard with our friendly chefs helping you to find your seats. When you start on your journey, you’ll be astounded as iconic moments from the movie come to life around you. Singing, dancing chefs will serve everyone the most delicious warm hot chocolate, and glorious chocolatey cookies. From the newest to oldest family members, all are invited to share Christmas dreams and memories with the film’s most beloved characters."



Whistlestop Valley

Various dates. Prices vary by event type.

This festive season, you can choose from THREE FESTIVE events at Whistlestop Valley: "Tea with Santa", "Simply Santa" or "The Santa Express."

Simply Santa and The Santa Express feature a trip aboard the heated carriages hauled by one of our steam locomotives; transporting you to the North Pole!

Whilst at the North Pole, you will have a one-on-one meeting with the big guy himself inside his cosy grotto, filled with sacks of presents for the good girls & boys. Santa's cheeky elf will be causing Christmas chaos at the Shelley North Pole - will you spot them?!

There'll be a complimentary edible festive treat and drink for everyone plus the opportunity to make up a bag of magical reindeer food to take home with you and write out your Christmas wish to hang on the magical Wishing Tree. You'll also be able to have a Yuletide whizz around the duck pond on our ride-on miniature train at the front of Clayton West Station.

  • SIMPLY SANTA features all the above

  • THE SANTA EXPRESS also includes a 25 minute Christmas Elf Show

Credit Whistlestop Valley

Scarborough North Bay Railway Santa Specials - 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24 December

£9.95 - £16.95 per person

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so why not kick off the festive season by heading down to the Scarborough North Bay Railway for our famous Santa Specials!

Fun for all the family – all aboard the magical Christmas Express, immerse yourself in festive wonder as this very special train takes you on a journey to Lapland Central.

Whilst waiting to see Santa, adults can enjoy complimentary seasonal refreshments including mince pies, hot chocolate and mulled wine, with juice and biscuits for the children. There will be the chance to have a ride on Santa’s sleigh, write your letter to Santa, make your own Reindeer food and much more to keep all entertained!

Once it is your time, you will be led by our mischievous elves to the beautifully decorated Grotto to spend some quality one to one time with the man himself and receive a special gift.

Your Santa Special experience will last for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Credit Scarborough North Bay

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