Christmas and the holiday season is all about making memories and holiday magic. I remember only a few of the gifts I received as a child (the big ones, like a mountain bike and my very own video camera to make home movies) but I have so many memories of fragrances, baking, picking out and decorating the tree, christmas music filling the house, driving around to see Christmas lights, and building gingerbread houses. It's these experiences that make Christmas magical.
A special Polar Express train ride is one experience that many families enjoy at Christmas now. Below is our guide to all the Polar Express train rides (both moving and stationary) that we could find in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and beyond, plus other holiday train options that aren't specifically about the Polar Express story.
Please note that many of these rides cannot use the term "Polar Express" so keep this in mind when telling your children, to avoid disappointment. Be prepared for a fantastic holiday experience with Santa, elves, hot chocolate, a reading of The Night Before Christmas, and even silver bells, but the train staff may not specifically perform Polar Express songs.
Note, most of the single date rides sell out quickly. If they're already sold out, sign up for their email list and be sure to jump quickly when you receive the email next year.
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Recurring Rides (Run Frequently During the Holiday Season)
Edaville Family Theme Park, Carver MA
Edaville will be running the Christmas Festival of Lights, with a train ride through many light displays, amusement park rides, and other entertainment, from November 9 to December 31. The North Pole Limited, a train ride to meet Santa and see thousands of Christmas lights runs November 15, 22, 29, December 6, 13, 20.
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride, Buzzards Bay MA
Cape Cod Central Railroad is running an official Polar Express train ride this year! The fun includes golden tickets, dancing chefs and waiters, a reading of The Polar Express, a gift from Santa, and cocoa and cookies. Available Fridays to Sundays starting November 24 through December 23, with rides additionally on December 20 and 21.
Journey to the North Pole™, North Conway NH
Departs from North Conway or Lincoln NH weekends beginning November 24 through December 23. This two-hour Conway Scenic Railroad adventure includes a train ride with treats and hot chocolate plus a theater visit to meet Santa, hear The Night Before Christmas, and sing Christmas songs. Trains depart at 4:30pm and 7:00pm from both locations.
Santa's Holiday Express, North Conway NH
Journey on the Conway Scenic Railroad with Santa and his elves! Weekends in late November and December and daily the week before Christmas at 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM. This is a shorter holiday train ride than the Journey to the North Pole and does not include the theater visit.
Santa Express Train, Lincoln NH
Enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and a visit from Santa and his elves on this 60-minute train ride. Train runs on weekends November 24-26, December 2 & 3, 9 & 10, 16 &17; 23. Tickets go on sale online only on Tuesday, November 1.
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride Blackstone Valley, Woonsocket RI
An official Polar Express™ train ride, this ride includes a reading of The Polar Express, sing-a-longs, cookies, hot chocolate, games, and a golden ticket. Children will also receive a silver bell personally delivered by Santa. Weekends from November 10 to December 17 & Monday December 18 with shows at 3:30 PM & 6:30 PM.
North Pole Express, Essex CT
Enjoy a live musical performance of The Night Before Christmas and hot chocolate and cookies, see Santa and Mrs. Claus, and join in festive sing-a-longs during this 90-minute train ride. Children receive a small gift from Santa. Operating Dates: Friday- Sunday November 17 - 26; Wednesday - Sunday November 30 - December 17; Wednesday - Friday December 20 - 23.
Single-Event Rides (Sell Out Quickly!)
Jolly Jingle Express, Woburn MA - 2023 INFORMATION TBA
The Jolly Jingle Express is presented by the Wakefield Music Boosters as a fundraiser. This ride includes the story of The Night Before Christmas, Santa, elves, cookies, milk and a silver bell on a 70-minute train ride from Anderson Station in Woburn on an MBTA commuter rail train. The train ride took place December 11th in 2022.
North Pole Express, Newburyport MA - 2023 INFORMATION TBA
Presented by the Immaculate Conception School, this 50-minute ride includes a reading of The Night Before Christmas, Santa, elves, cookies, songs, holiday characters and more. In 2022, the show ran on December 3, 2022 at 11:20 AM, 1:20 PM, 3:20 PM & 5:20 PM - and tickets went on sale October 15 2022 at 7 AM.
North Pole Express, Woburn MA - 2023 INFORMATION TBA
Presented by St. Augustine School. Santa and his elves will be on the train, handing out milk and cookies. Enjoy a Christmas story reading, sing Christmas carols, and receive a special gift from Santa. Children age 2 and under are free if they sit on their parent's lap. In 2022, the Express ran Saturday December 10th from 12 - 7 - tickets went on sale October 1 2022 at 12 AM.
Not an Actual Train Ride But Still Fun!
Holly Jolly Trolley. Lowell MA - 2023 INFORMATION TBA
The City of Lights celebration will take place in Lowell on Saturday, November 26th. Jump on the Lowell National Historical Park's "Holly Jolly Trolley," complete with Ranger Elves, music, and holiday decorations! The trolley will run continuously from the Boott Cotton Mills. The last run will leave at 3 p.m. FREE event, no reservation required! Masks will be required on the Trolley.
The Polar Express™ 4-D Experience at Jordan's Furniture, Avon MA - 2023 INFORMATION TBA
Jordan's Furnature offers a viewing of a short version of The Polar Express in 4-D, with special effects, at the Jordan's Furniture MOM Theater in Avon. Customers are offered the chance to book tickets in advance.
The Polar Express™ 4-D Experience at the Museum of Science, Boston MA - 2023 INFORMATION TBA
The Museum of Science offers a viewing of a short version of The Polar Express in 4-D, with special effects, at the Museum of Science's 4-D Theater. Attendance required purchase of a ticket to the Museum's exhibit halls and a separate timed ticket for the movie.
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