Kids can complete a special letter to Santa while enjoying milk and cookies on the Santa Express. Photo courtesy of Hobo Railroad
Kids can complete a special letter to Santa while enjoying milk and cookies on the Santa Express. Photo courtesy of Hobo Railroad

Polar Express and Christmas Trains in New England in 2020

All aboard! Select Polar Express and Christmas trains across New England are leaving the station in 2020, allowing kids to enjoy a favorite holiday tradition of visiting with Santa, enjoying dining car treats, and riding the rails to the "North Pole." Though some railroad lines are postponing the merriment to 2021, these Christmas train operators in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine are implementing capacity restrictions and other safety policies to be able to run through the holiday season. All New England families have to do is figure out a good time for a day trip; and grab tickets before they sell out!

Keep an eye on our events calendars in Boston and Connecticut for more festive family happenings during the 2020 holiday season.

Editor's note: We will add holiday trains to this list as operators solidify plans closer to the holidays. Be sure to check state travel restrictions, which could fluctuate at any time, wear masks, and practice social distancing at any holiday attraction.

Reindeer on the Rails — Essex

Select days, November 27 - December 23, 2020
New for 2020! Courtesy of Essex Steam Train, Reindeer on the Rails is a holiday adventure that features a journey through a whimsical evergreen and candy cane forest. The one-hour ride is planned with social distancing in mind, and also includes continental breakfast or lunch, Christmas crafts, and more.

Closed and open "sleigh" rides are available at the Trolley Museum this year. Photo courtesy of Connecticut Trolley Museum

Trolley Museum Winterfest and Tunnel of Lights – East Windsor, Connecticut

Fridays through Sundays, November 27 - December 27
Start your family tradition at the Connecticut Trolley Museum where you can ride in a closed or open "electric sleigh," singing Christmas carols while cruising through the “Tunnel of Lights.” The Visitors Center is transformed into a Winter Wonderland for this annual event. Enjoy model trains, decorations, and holiday music. You may even get a visit with Santa Claus himself.

Shoreline Trolley Winter Wonderland — East Haven, Connecticut

Select days, November 27 - December 20
Visit the Shoreline Trolley Museum weekends to visit with Santa and enjoy some holiday cheer. Cookies and cocoa are included, as well as plenty of photo ops! To make the evening extra special, all children will receive a small gift from Santa. Evening rides become a festive wonderland with beautiful holiday lights. There is no need for reservations as trains leave every 20 to 30 minutes.

Santa awaits at the North Pole after a ride on the Polar Express. Photo courtesy of Cape Cod Central Railroad

Polar Express Train Ride — Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts

Select days, November 27 - December 23
Aboard Cape Cod Central Railroad at Christmastime, dancing chefs serve warm cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie to each passenger. After the train rolls into the North Pole, Santa boards with his elves and gives each child a shiny silver bell while the elves lead a merry sing-along. If you can score a seat in the Diamond Class, you get extra-special views and an additional keepsake to take home. There railroad has invested in extra ventilation and sanitation systems for this year's excursion.

Santa Express Train — Lincoln, New Hampshire

Select days, November 27 - December 20
Santa Express Trains depart Hobo Junction Station, and are 80 minutes long. Passengers enjoy chocolate milk and cookies while children complete a letter to Santa. Santa visits, and gives every young child  a special gift. Seating will be assigned this year.

Wear your jammies and bring your appetite for treats! Photo courtesy of Journey to the North Pole/Believe in Books Literacy Foundation

Journey to the North Pole — North Conway and Lincoln, New Hampshire

Select days, November 27 - December 31
During a two-hour adventure through the White Mountains, kids enjoy treats, meet elves, listen to “The Night Before Christmas," and have an opportunity to leave letters to Santa at the "North Pole" Post Office. Children with "first class" or "upper dome" tickets may receive a special gift on the return trip back to reality. Net proceeds benefit the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation.

Holiday Express — Portland, Maine

Select days, November 27 - December 23
Ten historic coaches from the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad are decked out for the holidays. Passengers will listen to Christmas music and wave Santa off on his sleigh as they travel to and from the “North Pole." First class passengers will receive a souvenir mug and grab bag. While food and drink will not be served aboard the train this year, the railroad is directing visitors to the nearby Navis Café for a bite and a warm drink before or after the ride.

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