10 steam train coaches are decorated for Christmas, ready to whisk kids away to watch Santa as he prepares his sleigh. Photo courtesy of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad
10 steam train coaches are decorated for Christmas, ready to whisk kids away to watch Santa as he prepares his sleigh. Photo courtesy of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad

Polar Express and Christmas Trains in New England in 2021

All aboard! Most Polar Express and Christmas trains across New England are leaving the station in 2021, 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 2022, these Christmas train operators in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, 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 those golden tickets before they sell out!

Bookmark our our events calendars in Boston and Connecticut to stay updated on family holiday events during the 2021 holiday season, and consult our Holiday and Christmas Activities Guide for making the most of your holiday calendar.   

Watch as kids' jaws drop and smiles abound from the time Polar Express trains pull away from train depots across New England, until they return from Christmas town and their visit with Santa.  

 
Kids are blown away when they set out from the White Mountains, and arrivie at the North Pole. Photo from the performance of "Journey to the North Pole"

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Polar Express and Christmas Trains in Connecticut

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

Fridays through Sundays, November 26 - December 30
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.

 
Full of Christmas lights, the open "sleigh" ride is the ultimate open-air Christmas trolley ride. Photo courtesy of Connecticut Trolley Museum

Essex Steam Train — Essex, Connecticut

Update: North Pole Express Train sold out for 2021
While the Essex Stan Train is returning in 2021, North Pole Express Tickets are currently sold out. But never fear, the Essex Steam Train has many experiences to try before, during, and after the holiday season, including rail bike rides, theater performances, and educational events.  

Shoreline Trolley Winter Wonderland — East Haven, Connecticut

Select days, November 26 - December 19
Visit the Shoreline Trolley Museum on weekends to take a ride and visit with Santa for 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. Reservations are required.

 
Say "hi" and take a picture with Santa holding court in his special bedecked Christmas trolley car. Photo courtesy of Shoreline Trolley Winter Wonderland

Polar Express and Christmas Trains in Massachusetts

The Train to Christmas Town — Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts

Select days, November 26 - 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 Premium Class, you get extra-special views, and an additional keepsake to take home. 

Polar Express and Christmas Trains in Rhode Island

The Polar Express Train Ride - Blackstone Valley — Woonsocket, Rhode Island

Fridays through Sundays, November 19 - December 19
The hugely popular Blackston Valley Polar Express Train with its different style cars is a 3-hour adventure filled with Christmas carols, a reading of "The Polar Express," and ofcourse hot chocolate and treats before the visit from Santa. Arrive ahead for outdoor photo opportunities with the elves. 

Polar Express and Christmas Trains in New Hampshire

Santa Express Train — Lincoln, New Hampshire

Select days, November 26 - December 19
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. Then, Santa visits, and gives every young child a special gift. Tickets go on sale Monday, November 1. Reservations are required and must be purchased online.

Every child receives a bell on their special Journey to the North Pole. Photo courtesy of Believe in Books Literacy Foundation

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

Select days, November 26 - December 30
During a 2-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. Learn more and access tickets on the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation website, which hosts the fundraiser.

 
Santa visits with every child, collects their letters, and shares gifts right on the train. Photo courtesy of the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln, New Hampshire

Polar Express and Christmas Trains in Maine

Holiday Express — Portland, Maine

Select days, November 26 - December 23
The 10 historic coaches from the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad that are decked out for the holidays are a Maine tradition. 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 a grab bag. While food and drink will not be served aboard the train in 2021, the railroad directs visitors to the nearby Navis Café for a bite and a warm drink before or after the ride. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test are required for those 12 years and older. Masks are required for all guests ages 2 and up.

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