Updated for 2021!
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 Barbie Dream House and my own stereo with a DUAL cassette tape deck!) but I have so many memories of fragrances, treats, decorating the tree, singing in church and lighting a candle, and even caroling door to door. 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 12 to January 1. It appears they will not be running the "Santa Experience" rides this year, which include a train ride with Santa, cookies and cocoa, and festive songs. Hopefully the Santa Experience rides will be back in 2022!
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 26 and every day of Christmas week, through December 24.
Journey to the North Pole™, North Conway NH
Departs from North Conway or Lincoln NH weekends in late November and December. 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.
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. The schedule and ticket system for 2021 is not available yet.
Santa Express Train, Lincoln NH
Enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and a visit from Santa and his elves on this 60-minute train ride. Weekends in late November and December. Tickets go on sale online on 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 mid-November to December 19.
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.
Single-Event Rides (Sell Out Quickly!)
Jolly Jingle Express, Woburn MA
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 will not take place in 2021 but hopes to return in 2022.
North Pole Express, Newburyport MA
Presented by the Immaculate Conception School, this 70-minute ride includes a reading of The Night Before Christmas, Santa, elves, hot cocoa, songs, holiday characters and more. It will be running on December 4, 2021. Tickets go on sale Saturday November 6 at 7 AM.
North Pole Express, Woburn MA
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. There is no word yet from the St. Augustine School on whether they plan to run the North Pole Express in 2021.
Not an Actual Train Ride But Still Fun!
Holly Jolly Trolley. Lowell MA
The City of Lights celebration will take place in Lowell on November 27 but it appears that the Holly Jolly Trolley will not be running. Back in 2022, we hope!
See a short version of The Polar Express in 4-D, with special effects, at the Jordan's Furniture MOM Theater in Avon. Book tickets in advance.
See a short version of The Polar Express in 4-D, with special effects, at the Museum of Science's 4-D Theater. Requires purchase of a ticket to the Museum's exhibit halls and a separate timed ticket for the movie.
The Polar Express Guide is one of the most-visited articles on our site, year after year. If your business would like to sponsor this guide, with your business information prominently featured, please email us!
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