Tickets for Pullen Park’s Holiday Express went on sale this morning (July 31st) and unless you were a (really) Early Bird and got a little lucky you probably left empty-handed. Triangle on the Cheap readers are saying that they sold out within 30 minutes.
However, Pullen Park is not hosting the only Christmas train in the area. Here’s a list of some of the other places you can take the kids to this holiday season around the state of North Carolina.
For attractions outside of the Triangle, we’ve indicated the number of miles it is from Raleigh. Please adjust the distance from your own starting point.
Caveat: Not all of these train rides are cheap. Some of these are pretty pricey. But we’re including them anyway, because they are so popular.
And at the end of this post, look for a day-by-day list of holiday events in the Triangle. It will be pretty small now, as it’s still summer time, but as the holiday season approaches, it will be jam-packed with fun things to do to celebrate the holidays.
Santa Train at Museum of Life + Science
Museum of Life + Science
433 W. Murray Avenue
Durham, NC 27704
The event runs selected dates in December, and, please note that the price goes up as we get closer to Christmas, so if you want to do this a little less expensively, make your plans accordingly.
December 1-2 | Tickets are $15
December 5-9 | Tickets are $20
December 12-16 | Tickets are $22
December 19-22 | Tickets are $22
Tickets go on sale to the general public on November 6th, 2018, and earlier for Museum members.
Climb aboard the Ellerbe Creek Railway for a journey to the North Pole. Enjoy a ride through thousands of twinkling lights as we make our way to meet Santa and his elves. Back at the station explore festive activities including:
- Face painting by Paint Savvy
- Holiday crafts
- “Science of Santa” activities including hands-on snow polymer, simple circuits, and more Holiday music and light displays
- “Skate in your socks” synthetic ice rink
- Complimentary hot chocolate
- Pop-up Museum gift shop
- Sprout Cafe will be open for light snacks and coffee
North Carolina Transportation Museum: The Polar Express
The Polar Express
North Carolina Transportation Museum
411 South Salisbury Avenue
Spencer, NC 28159 (124 miles from Raleigh)
2018 dates: November 16-18, November 23-25, November 30-December 2, December 7-9, December 13-22
Standard coach: Adult: $38, Child (2-12): $32
Deluxe coach: Adult: $48, Child (2-12): $32
First class: Table for two: $120; Table for four: $240
Parlor class: Table for four: $325
Children under 2 ride free, on a parent’s or guardian’s lap
Ticket sale date: Tickets are on sale now
On this train ride, listen to the music of The Polar Express, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. There will be singing, dancing, and a reading of The Polar Express story. At the North Pole, Santa will present children with a gift. On the return trip everyone will receive a sleigh bell.
Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express at New Hope Valley Railway
Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express
New Hope Valley Railway
3900 Bonsal Road
New Hill, North Carolina 27562
2018 dates: December 1-2, December 8-9, December 15
Cost: Adult: $15; Child (2-12): $12; Senior (60+): $14; Infant (under 2): Free, on lap
Tickets on sale: now
Ride a vintage train with New Hope Valley Railway. Passengers can meet Santa and pose for pictures with him on the train, and they can help him find his reindeer. Before your ride stop by the reindeer stables in the rail yard. Families are also encouraged to visit the photo opportunity that will be set up in front of the Post Office train car in the rail yard before or after their train ride. Food, drinks and desserts are available for purchase.
Country Christmas Train at Denton Farmpark
Country Christmas Train
4259 Handy Road
Denton, NC 27239 (90 miles from Raleigh)
2018 dates: November 23, 24, 25, 30, and December 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27
Cost: Not announced for 2018, but for 2017 tickets were: Adults (Thurs, Fri, Sun): $13; Adults (Sat): $15; Children (5-11): $5; Children 4 and under: Free
Tickets on sale: August 31
Tickets include a lighted walking tour through the park, a visit to the church to hear a Christmas story and to join in with some Christmas carols, a ride on the Handy Dandy Railroad, with a brief nativity movie along the way. Visit the general store and doll museum. Ride on a horse drawn wagon and take a tram down to visit the Reid Plantation. Food, souvenir, craft purchases are extra. Santa pictures are available for purchase too.
Hubb’s Express and Santa Too at Hubb’s Farm
Hubb’s Express and Santa Too!
10276 US Hwy 421 North
Clinton, NC (56 miles from Raleigh)
2018 date: November 24
Cost: $20 (under age 2 free)
Tickets on sale: August 15
This one-night-only event starts at 5 p.m. and a movie starts at 7 p.m.
300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane
Blowing Rock, NC 28605 (192 miles from Raleigh)
2018 Dates: November 23, 24, 30; December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29
Cost: $38 (children 2 and under free)
Tickets on sale: August 6, 2018
With your ticket, you will:
- Meet Santa in his own home — made of gingerbread, and filled with candied furnishings.
- Take a night-time train ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains. See thousands of Christmas lights along the three-mile track and the open areas of the park.
- Enjoy the sounds of Christmas during a 15-minute variety show in the Tweetsie Palace.
- Step into a snow globe filled with swirling (synthetic) snow, peek through a Christmas present, see giant nut crackers, toy soldiers, candy canes, toy drums, and more.
- Snacks for sale: Roast s’mores over an outdoor fire pit and enjoy freshly baked cookies, warm funnel cakes, and other handmade items from Tweetsie Railroad’s famous Fudge Shop.
The Polar Express with Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Polar Express Train Ride
Bryson City Depot
45 Mitchell Street
Bryson City, NC 28713 (309 miles from Raleigh)
2018 dates: November 9, 10, 16-21, 23-30; December 1-31, with the exception of Christmas Day
Cost: For Coach Class, Off-peak: Adults $42, Child (2-12) $28. Children under 2 are free. Tickets are more expensive for first class, Crown Class, Christmas Eve and steam engines.
Tickets on sale: Now
Set to the soundtrack of The Polar Express movie, the 1 1/4 hour round trip excursion takes passengers from the Bryson City depot to a visit to the North Pole. Guests will enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening to and reading along with the story.At the North Pole, Santa will board the train and greet each child. Santa will give each child a silver sleigh bell.
Kannapolis Christmas–Winterland Express
700 W. C Street
Kannapolis, NC 28081 (141 miles from Raleigh)
2018 dates: November 24 to December 30, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Cost: $2 for train ride and $2 for carousel
Tickets on sale: No advance purchase
It’s free to enter the park, where you can see more than 250,000 Christmas lights. A group of animatronic bears will sing Christsmas carols, Santa will be available for visits. Take a ride on the Winterland Express for $2, or ride North Carolina’s only double-decker carousel for $2.
Selma Santa Train
Selma Santa Train
Selma Train Depot
500 E. Railroad Street
Saturday, December 15th, 2018
Adults: $55, Children 1 to 12: $45
Santa will be on board this train ride. Juice and cookies will be served.
Free and cheap holiday events in the Triangle
Looking for some holiday fun a little closer to home? Keep checking back for a list of holiday events in the Triangle. Events are being added to Triangle on the Cheap every day as they’re announced.