Pullen Park’s Holiday Express was canceled for 2020, which is a big disappointment for both Raleigh Parks, and for families who look forward to this tradition every year.
So we thought we’d put together a list of the other Christmas trains in the area and around North Carolina, and the status of each.
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.
Please make sure to follow the links below for the official information and to buy tickets. If you see any discrepancies between the official information and what is included here, please let us know!
Holidays in the Park at Museum of Life + Science
Museum of Life + Science
433 W. Murray Avenue
Durham, NC 27704
2020 dates: December 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, and 26-27
Tickets go on sale to the public on November 20th, and earlier for members.
$19 a person ($16 a person for the experience without the train ride.)
Museum of Life + Science is not hosting Santa Train this year, but is hosting Holidays in the Park, which includes a train ride on the Ellerbe Creek Railway, passing colorful light displays along the way.
North Carolina Transportation Museum
The Candy Cane Train
North Carolina Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Drive
Spencer, NC 28159 (45 miles from Charlotte)
Saturdays and Sundays from November 21st to December 20th
10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
$14 for adults, $12 for seniors and military, and $10 for kids age 3-12
The Polar Express has been canceled for this year, but the N.C. Transportation Museum is hosting a new event, the Candy Cane Train.
The train ride will be decorated for the season and each rider will receive a candy cane. This safe family event will allow for social distancing and train rides are limited to 30% capacity, with one-way movement through passenger cars.
The train will take visitors on a from-the-rails tour of the historic site’s 60 acres, featuring structures dating back to 1896, from the days when the property was Southern Railway’s largest steam locomotive repair facility in the southeast.
Following the train ride, visitors can enjoy hot chocolate and prepackaged cookies in the 1905 Back Shop. This area will be decorated for the season with music, a touchless model train operated by waving your hand and more.
There’s also a drive-thru lights experience at night, but there is no train rides during that time.
Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express at New Hope Valley Railway
Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express
New Hope Valley Railway
3900 Bonsal Road (25 miles from Raleigh)
New Hill, North Carolina 27562
2020 dates: December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19
Cost: Adults: $13, Kids age 2-12: $11, Seniors age 60+: $12
You can also rent the entire caboose (up to 10 people who are in a private group together) for $75
Tickets on sale: Now
Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express will run on the above schedule in 2020. Tickets are 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.
You can also, buy tickets to the Family Caboose Ride. Your family, up to 10 people, will have use of the caboose all to yourself, so this will be a safe choice, regardless of conditions. The cost is $75, and it would be a good idea to reserve tickets as soon as possible.
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)
November 30th, 2020
$20 a person
Ticket includes time with Santa, movie screening, hot chocolate, Hubb’s Express train ride, and a jingle bell for all attendees. Hubb’s will also provide campfires for cooking marshmallows, s’mores and toe-warming. S’mores kits are available for order at the time of ticket purchase. One kit makes four s’mores.
Note for 2020: This event will take place in 2020.
300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane
Blowing Rock, NC 28605 (192 miles from Raleigh)
2020 Dates: Begins November 13th. Details soon!
Cost: $44 for adults, and $38 for children (children 2 and under free)
Tweetsie Christmas for 2020 is TBD, as of September 27th.
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)
2020 dates: Dates from November 13th to December 31st.
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, peak times, Christmas Eve and steam engines.
Tickets: For sale now
Great Smoky Mountain Railroad is currently up and running, with some changes, including face masks and 50% capacity. Read about the steps they’ve taken here.
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)
2020 dates: Every evening from November 21st to December 30th, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Cost: Free to enter and walk through the light display. $6 for a row on the train
Online sales encouraged, but walk-ons will be allowed if there are rows that haven’t been reserved.
It’s free to enter the park, where you can see more than 250,000 Christmas lights. A group of animatronic bears will sing Christmas carols, Santa will be available for visits.
Note for 2020: Confirmed.
Selma Santa Train
Selma Santa Train
Selma Train Depot
500 E. Railroad Street
Santa will be on board this train ride. Juice and cookies will be served, and there will be caroling.
Note for 2020: Canceled
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