A Handy Guide To The 6 UK Polar Express Train Rides 2021

There are many Christmas steam train experiences in the UK but the most well known of all of them is the Polar Express train. The Polar Express Christmas train ride is based on a lovely Christmas story by Chris Van Allsburg (also one of the best Christmas movies for kids), The Polar Express. These Santa steam train journeys offer a fabulously festive Christmas family day out.

If you and your little ones love the Polar Express Movie, you are bound to love this Polar Express experience. Want the ultimate Polar Experience? Here’s how to book a DIY Lapland trip on a budget.

Some of the 2021 dates have been released and updated below. We will update the UK Polar Express Train Rides when they are released.

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The Polar Express Train Ride

The Polar Express Train Ride | Photo Credit Wensleydale Railway

** If the Polar Express train rides that you are looking at are all booked up or cancelled, here are some alternative Santa Train Rides to check out.

Or, if you prefer a traditional Santa’s Grotto, check out our post on 100+ Santa’s Grottos and Santa Experiences in the UK. We also ahve a Complete Guide to the Christmas Light Trails in the UK**

**This post will be updated with 2021 details as soon as they are available**

There are a number of Polar Express train ride UK locations which we have detailed below but first…here are a few quick frequently asked questions.

Do I have to book Polar Express tickets in advance?

Yes, you need to book tickets in advance. Due to current safety guidelines, ticket sales have been limited so it is best to book as soon as you can as they sell out quickly. Also, you cannot buy tickets on the day.

Do you have to wear pyjamas on the Polar Express?

You don’t have to wear pyjamas, but if you really want to get into the spirit of the Polar Express experience, why not wear pyjamas like the little boy in the film? Wearing pyjamas is encouraged by the Polar Express. If you don’t fancy wearing Christmas pyjamas, a Christmas jumper is a great alternative!

What to expect from a Polar Express Train ride

Each train ride offers a unique experience, but they will follow a similar format. See below for each Polar Express location, but in general, the experience will closely follow the Polar Express story. During the journey, you will meet characters from the film, most notably the Polar Express conductor and, of course, Santa. There will be singing and dancing and each passenger will receive a gift.

Do I have to watch the Polar Express film to enjoy the experience?

You don’t have to have watched the movie to enjoy the experience, but watching the movie before your day out can add to the experience. If you haven’t yet seen the film or you have watched it a while ago, you can rent it on Amazon Prime for £3.49. The book is also lovely and you may want to take along a copy to join in with some of the story telling on certain trains.

The Polar Express movie

The Polar Express Book

Where is the Polar Express Train Ride UK?

There are currently 6 locations across the UK where you can find a Polar Express Train Experience. If you happen to be in the US, there are many more Polar Express locations there!

Wensleydale Railway

Polar Express Yorkshire – DATES FOR 2021 TBC

The Polar Express train picks you up at Leeming Bar station and transports you to the ‘North Pole’. During the journey you meet characters from the Polar Express movie, starting with the Polar Express conductor who welcomes you on board.

The characters will entertain you with singing and dancing and serve cookies and hot chocolate. There will also be a reading of the Polar Express story. When you arrive in the ‘North Pole’, you meet Santa who gifts a silver sleigh bell (just like the Polar Express bell in the movie) to all kids on the nice list!

Dates: 21st November to 22nd December 2020
Ticket Price: From £24.95 to £34.95 per person
Location: Wensleydale Railway, Leeming Bar Station, Leases Road, Leeming Bar, Northallerton, DL7 9AR
Duration: The train journey lasts about one hour, but it is recommended to allow 2 – 2.5 hours for the whole experience
FAQs: Check here for any more FAQs on the train ride

YouTube video

South Devon Railway

Polar Express South Devon

The first sighting of the South Devon Polar Express sets the scene for the experience. It is a large, black steam train that puffs out huge clouds of steam as it pulls into the station. During the one hour journey, you’ll meet the conductor (who will clip your ticket) and his crew as well as Santa.

Remember to be on best behaviour as the elves will be scanning little ones to see if they’re on the nice list this year. Don’t miss the 20-minute pre-show before the train ride.

Dates: 20th – 21st, 26th – 28th November, 2nd – 5th, 9th – 12th and 15th – 23rd December 2021
Ticket Price: From £24.95 to £31.95 per person
Location: South Devon Railway, The Station, Dartbridge Road, Buckfastleigh, Devon, TQ11 0DZ
Duration: The train journey lasts about one hour
FAQs: Check here for any more FAQs on the train ride

Santa on the South Devon Railway Polar Express

Santa on the South Devon Railway Polar Express | Photo Credit South Devon Railway

Seaton Tramway

Polar Express Seaton

The Seaton Polar Express experience is actually a tram instead of a train but the experience is similar. The journey lasts around 2 – 2 1/2 hours during which there will be hot chocolate, Christmas carols and a light show once you reach the ‘North Pole’. Each passenger will receive a silver sleigh bell as a gift from Father Christmas who you will meet during the train ride.

Dates: TBC
Ticket Price: From £19.95 – £32.95 per person (under 2 free)
Location: Seaton Tramway, Harbour Road, Seaton, Devon, EX12 2NQ
Duration: The train journey lasts about 2 – 2.5 hours
FAQs: Check here for any more FAQs on the train ride

Telford Steam Railway

The Polar Express Telford

Telford Polar Express is a lovely Christmas experience with the re-telling of the story whilst drinking hot chocolate and eating a cookie in pyjamas. The Polar Express characters entertain the carriage which is decorated festively. Watch out for the Polar Express ghost! The conductor passes through and clips your golden ticket with your first initial, just like the film.

The train passes through a tunnel where you’ll experience the magic of the Northern Lights. On arrival at the ‘North Pole’ you can look out at the lights of the Elf village and you will see Santa. Everyone receives a silver sleigh bell gifts and when the train ride is over, there are festive activities to enjoy.

Dates: TBC
Ticket Price: N/A
Location: The Old Loco Shed, Bridge Road, Horsehay, Telford, Shropshire, TF4 3UH
Duration: The whole experience lasts about 2 hours
FAQs: Check here for any more FAQs on the train ride

Santa with children

Mid Norfolk Railway Polar Express

Polar Express Norfolk

Firstly, it should be noted that the the Polar Express Norfolk is not a steam train experience. That said, the whole experience is very similar to all of the other Polar Express train rides with singing and dancing Polar Express characters.

There will be hot chocolate and a cookie served during the train ride and a gift of a silver sleigh bell.

Dates: TBC
Ticket Price: Tickets go on sale in April 2021
Location: The Railway Station, Station Road, Dereham, Norfolk, NR19 1DF
Duration: The whole experience lasts about 2 hours
FAQs: Check here for any more FAQs on the train ride

Polar Express Birmingham

The Polar Express Birmingham

From receiving the Golden Ticket to boarding the train to watching the Polar Express characters, the whole experience is magical. Hot chocolate and cookies are served, the Polar Express story is played and there is a lot of festive energy.

On arrival at the ‘North Pole’ you will see festive lights and Santa will board the train giving out gifts.

Birmingham is one of the best cities in the UK to visit at Christmas with kids and your visit would not be complete without a ride on the Polar Express.

Dates: TBC
Ticket Price: N/A
Location: Moor Street Station, Queensway, Birmingham, B4 7UL
Duration: The whole experience lasts about 2 hours

Map of the UK Polar Express Train Rides

A Complete Guide to the Polar Express Train Rides in the UK.

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