It’s been a tough old year for everyone so why not cheer up the kids (and yourself) by booking a trip to meet Santa on one of these great steam Christmas train trips. All the trains in our guide are currently scheduled to run but please be aware of social distancing guideline and the company’s cancellation policy.
This year the Bluebell Railway is inviting families (up to six people of course) to enjoy some festive fun in their own private compartment for a safe and enjoyable journey. On board you’ll find mince pies and chocolate coins with the chance to visit Santa in his parlour and collect a special present from Santa’s Workshop. The whole experience will take around 2 hours from Sheffield Park and 2 hours 15 minutes from East Grinstead.
When: 28/29 November; 5/6/12/13/19/20/22/23/24 December
Price: Third class compartments, £130; first class compartments, £170
Severn Valley Railway
Families are invited to enjoy a bit of Christmas spirit in a private compartment on the Severn Valley Railway a magical journey to Arley. You will begin your trip at Kidderminster Station where you’ll receive a drink and seasonal sweet treat. At Arley you’ll get to enjoy a Christmas show where your kids will get to meet Santa and his friends. Back on the train, there will be gifts for the kids too. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes each way.
When: 28/29 November; 5/6/12/13/19/20/23/24 December
Price: From £110 for a compartment for four people; from £170 for a compartment for six people. Children under two do not count towards the number of people in a compartment. They travel free of charge and will receive a present.
East Lancashire Line
All the family will love a Christmas ride on the historic East Lancashire Line. The ride from Rawtenstall through the Irwell Valley takes about 80 minutes and on the way the kids will get to meet Santa and his elves and receive a great gift on the day. The grown-ups aren’t left out either – there’s a mince pie and festive tipple for all adults on board. You can choose from buying individual tickets or travel in style in a private compartment coach.
When: 21/22/28/29 November; 5/6/12/13/19/20/21/22/23/24 December
Price: From £17 for an adult or a child; from £27.50 for an adult with a child under 2; 6-seater compartment from £135
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway
Step on board the ‘Santa Experience’ and there will be fun for all the family. The special Christmas trains will run from Toddington to Winchcombe station and back again. At the station refreshments will be offered including mulled wine (not for the kids) and the railway’s famous mince pies. Then your children will be invited to meet Santa – from a safe distance and receive a Christmas present.
When: 28/29 November; 5/6/12/13/19/20/22/23/24 December
Price: £20 per person (children under 1 go free)
The Watercress Line
Join in the festive spirit in Mid Hampshire with a family Christmas ride on the Watercress Line. Your kids will get to meet Father Christmas and receive a present in his grotto at Ropley Station. There’s also a host of traditional festive fun including vintage fairground rides, a miniature railway, a petting farm and a Christmas market. Adults are also treated to one hot drink included in the ticket price.
When: 28/29 November; 5/6/12/13/19/20/21/22/23/24 December
Price: Adults, £15; child aged 1-16, £7
More info: www.watercressline.co.uk
Epping Ongar Railway
The Epping Ongar Railway is the closest heritage railway to London. Situated just off the M11 and M25, it’s a six-mile countryside line that includes Epping Forest. This festive season you can travel with your kids in your own carriage on a special train that will journey towards the North Pole. Stopping at a station on the way, your kids will get to meet Santa and receive a personal present from him.
His elves will leave these at the end of your coach for you to collect. A special heritage bus will operate from Epping Underground station and Ongar town centre for those travelling on the train. Travel on these buses is free of charge, but due to limited capacity these must be pre-booked.
When: 28/29 November; 5/6/12/13/19/20/23 December
Price: Compartment for up to 6 people: £175; Compartment for up to 8 people: £225; If booking a compartment for 8 people, in line with government restrictions, all people in that compartment must be from the same household or support bubble.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Travelling 18 miles through the North Yorkshire Moors, this is the largest preserved heritage railway in the UK. This year families are invited to book a private compartment on a 60-minute round-trip journey from Pickering station to Levisham station. Your kids will get to meet Santa’s helpers on the way and hopefully catch sight of the big man himself too. Each child on board will receive a special Christmas present as well as a Snow Bound Express newspaper.
When: 5/6/12/13/19/20/21/22/23/24 December
Price: Private compartment: £100 for up to 4 people; £25 per additional adult or child (Max 6 people in total). Child, 1-16 years old
Kent & East Sussex Railway
Get on board this lovely heritage rail route that boasts 10.5 miles of track through some of Kent’s most picturesque countryside. This Christmas season families are invited on board to enjoy a fun journey with plenty of surprises on board. On the journey you will enjoy a complimentary refreshment pack for each family, age- appropriate presents for all children 11; a receive a magician providing on-board entertainment; a free photo of your family on the train; free rides on the vintage gallopers on-site at Tenterden; a visit to the station’s Christmas model village. As well as all this fun, Santa will be travelling through the train so the kids can meet him – socially distanced of course!
When: 29 November; 5/6/12/13/19/20/22/23/24 December
Price: Open-plan standard class table for up to four people, from £90; Family standard class compartment for up to six people from £180