The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show: What's New for 2012
The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show celebrates its 21st anniversary this year, and as always it's one of New York City's top seasonal attractions for families. Little electric trains go whizzing by more than 140 NYC landmarks made out of acorns, twigs, bark, berries and leaves. My family and I make it a point to go every single year—it's truly a quintessential New York holiday experience. There's a reason it's No. 52 on our list of 100 Things to Do with Your Kids in NYC.
The Holiday Train Show isn't the only fun thing for families at the NYBG this season. Kids can also head to the Everett Children's Adventure Garden to romp in a gingerbread playhouse, decorate gingerbread cookies and look at intricate gingerbread houses, or enjoy special seasonal performances.
We've got the scoop on what's new at the 2012 Holiday Train Show, which opens on Saturday, November 17, plus info on other seasonal train exhibits in NYC, including the brand-new Holiday Express display at the New-York Historical Society.
The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show is simply amazing. Where else can families marvel at detailed miniature replicas of the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium and other iconic NYC spots made entirely from natural materials? The trains weave in and out of these little landmarks, through tunnels, over bridges and even through waterfalls. It's a magical sight and adults should enjoy it just as much as kids.
For 2012, the garden has added a new famous building to the mix: a four-foot tall model of Macy's Herald Square. Since the replica of the store was originally created for Macy's Flower Show, it's much bigger than the other buildings and is therefore displayed on its own in the tented waiting area.
Macy's Herald Square
After debuting last year, the Artist’s Studio is back but it's been completely revamped. Instead of static photos and tools, the display now features some of the artists' non-Holiday Train Show works. A small train made from bark chugs past non-NYC landmarks, including Lucy, the famous elephant of the Jersey Shore.
New Jersey's famous elephant Lucy and other roadside attractions in the Artist's Studio
Since the Holiday Train Show is located inside in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, it's a great destination, even once winter takes hold. Plus, the NYBG offers other holiday attractions just for families that are free with Holiday Train Show admission.
Head to the Everett Children's Adventure Garden for all things gingerbread. Kids can create a gingerbread garden journal, pot plants that are in used in gingerbread recipes and decorate gingersnaps. There is also a fabulous display of gingerbread houses made by local pastry chefs.
The Little Engine That Could
Puppet master Ralph Lee brings the classic story of the spunky choo-choo who saves Christmas to life. Runs Tuesdays-Thursdays, November 27–December 27, except Christmas Day, and Mondays, December 17 and 31, times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
All Aboard with Thomas and Friends
Preschoolers' favorite blue engine and his pals star in this mini-musical. After the show, kids can pose with the costumed characters. Runs Tuesday, January 1-Sunday, January 27, times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Upon entering the show, you're greeted by Lady Liberty and Ellis Island in the Harbor.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History
The old Yankee Stadium
A Christmas tree
Some of NYC's famous skyscrapers
The United Nations
Grand Central Terminal
Oh yeah, there are trains, too.
Holiday Train Show Tips
The Holiday Train Show is extremely popular and gets jammed during peak times. The NYBG combats the crowds by selling timed tickets. Still, if it all possible, try to go on off-peak days (weekdays or evenings in November, early December and January).
It's best to buy tickets in advance. If you try to pay at the door, you may find your preferred time slot sold out.
The decked out NYBG is a great place to snap a photo for your holiday cards! Awesome photo ops include the Christmas trees and other decorated greenery. See our other ideas for unique holiday photo ops in NYC.
Strollers aren't allowed inside the Holiday Train Show but you can leave them in the anteroom.
There's on-site parking for $12 per vehicle, but the NYBG is accessible via public transportation. Take Metro-North from Grand Central to the Botanical Garden station, which is directly across the street from the main entrance.
The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show is on view Saturday, November 17-Monday, January 13. Weekdays: $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 2-12. Weekends and peak days Friday, November 23, Monday, December 17-Tuesday, January 1: $25 for adults, $15 for children ages 2-12. Visit the website for hours, dates and additional details.
Other NYC Holiday Train Displays
This year, the New York City Transit Museum's Annual Holiday Train Show in Grand Central Terminal has a brand-new layout created by Lionel in honor of the station's upcoming 100th anniversary. This cute but modest display takes visitors on an imaginary journey from Grand Central Terminal to the North Pole. Runs Wednesday, November 21-Sunday, February 10, 2013. FREE.
New for 2012, the New-York Historical Society will host Holiday Express, a seasonal exhibit featuring impressive antique model trains, train stations and sheds, bridges and tunnels, carousels and Ferris wheels. While there, be sure to check out the interactive DiMenna Children's History Museum, which is also located at the Historical Society. The display is on view Friday, November 24-Sunday, January 6 in the Sculpture Court at the New-York Historical Society, 77th Street and Central Park West. Free with admission: $15 for adults, $10 for students, $5 for children ages 5-13, free for kids under 5. One kid under 13 per family can get in free by coloring this train.
Unfortunately, the popular Station at CitiGroup Center is no longer running.