Best train to go around christmas tree

Christmas Tree Train Sets: The Best Train Sets To Go Under Your Tree 2018


Looking to make your child’s Christmas morning extra special? It can’t get better than a train trundling around under your Christmas tree or as a present to open.

I’ve opened my presents early to find the best train sets for a magical Christmas morning.

Lionel was the original Christmas tree train set company, starting the tradition just after the First World War.

In an astute marketing move, they persuaded the big US department stores to incorporate their beautiful steam trains into the store tree displays and Christmas trees and trains have been an item ever since.

Before getting into the top 5, grab a glass of mulled wine, take a seat and watch this Lionel train, complete with sounds and lights, work its festive magic around a Christmas tree. to wet your appetite.

In no particular order, here are my top picks for the best trains to go under your yuletide display for the 2017 holiday.

Holly and Hornby

When it comes to model trains in the UK there’s really one only choice: Hornby.

And our favourite manufacturer has 2017 sorted with a beautiful Christmas Santa train and railway set.

There are loads of different Hornby train sets — including the Thomas and Friends trains below — but for that magical Christmas morning moment, there’s really no competition to seeing this Hornby Santa Special trundling around and reflected in the baubles of your tree.

It’s just enchanting to watch this delightful little steam train, with a Christmas themed livery and a wagon overflowing with beautifully decorated presents — all to tiny scale of course. It will light up the face of any child as they rush to see what awaits them on 25th December.

As mentioned above, Hornby makes a large range of trains, track and accessories that this, like the Thomas trains below, are fully compatible with. Both of these train sets, which run on normal mains electricity and come with everything required to set up and run, could form the basis for a much bigger train set that will give months, even years, of enjoyment during and after Christmas.

This train set is the latest Hornby R1210, and includes track, locomotive, wagons, power supply transformer for the UK and Hornby controller.

Update: A quick guide to setting up a Hornby train set

Update 2: The Hornby Christmas Train Set from Amazon.

Let’s Go Loco With Lego

You can’t go wrong with Lego and children and this wonderful Lego train is hugely popular.

Although this particular train isn’t motorised (although you can buy motor sets separately or see below) the fun of assembling the train Christmas morning will more than make up it.

The Lego train is waiting for your tree here.

A Word of Caution:
Some of train sets featured here feature motorised with electrics so they can trundle around your tree on their own. Please make sure you turn them off and disconnect the power if leaving them alone for any period of time and make sure you can get to the power easily and quickly in an emergency. Christmas trees are very flammable and any electrical accidents could have catastrophic results for your Christmas.

Lego Locomotion

If you, erm… your children, enjoy Lego but want a motorised train to zoom between the pine needles take a look at this Lego High Speed train set.

It’s not Christmas themed but will prove an entertaining build project and will run around a tree under your child’s control with the remote control included.

One word of caution, this train can go very fast so cats will have a lot of fun chasing it around too and it’s probably best if the controller is kept out of reach of younger children.

Being Lego it also needs time to build so get up extra early if you want to surprise the family!

The Lego high-speed passenger train set is available from Amazon here.

Thomas Under the Tree

Is there a child that doesn’t like Thomas the Tank Engine? Mix their favourite engine with their favourite time of year and you have instant Christmas cheer.

As the first train set in this roundup with authentic looking track – complete with sleepers and metal rails – it looks wonderful.

This is also part of the Hornby OO range of model trains – more on this in a minute – so can be expanded with more track, buildings and trains to build up into full model railway after Christmas.

Click here if you want this delightful Thomas and Friends Hornby train set.

Lionel Polar Express Christmas Train Set with Santa’s Bell

I started this roundup with a trip down memory lane to the beginnings of Christmas tree’s and trains and a look at a Lionel so how better to finish than with the modern version.

And Lionel’s latest model doesn’t just look good but sounds it too, with authentic sounds included.

Even better, based on the train in the classic Tom Hanks Polar Express Christmas movie it’ll be instantly recognized and adds an extra magical touch to any tree.

This is much larger than the other trains featured here as it’s G gauge – 45mm wide track instead of the OO gauge (16.5mm wide track) used for the Hornby trains – so it’ll need a big tree and more room but it’s a glorious looking train if you have space.

Personally, I prefer Hornby trains as I can use them on my layouts but for young children, the lights, sounds, Polar Express movie connection and remote control of the Lionel train may be better.

If this is the one for your family, you can get it from Amazon now.

Note, this is not the train featured in the video above. This is a battery powered model and doesn’t have the smoke feature.

The Lionel Polar Express can be difficult to get in the UK so shop around, stocks allowing it can also be found here on Amazon .

If you already have a train set for your tree and want to get your children something train related, these Train Themed Books for Children will be ideal.

Did you know, last year MRE (this website) was nominated and went on to win Silver for best website in the British Model Railway Awards. This year, I’m honoured that it’s been nominated again! MRE is a labour of love and your vote for it in these awards would really encourage and motivate me to develop the site further, creating more free tips, advice and guides. If you would like to support me, please and select your entries in the various classes of entry. If you don’t have a preference for a particular category, you can skip that class. The Website of the Year is on the final page, just tick the box next to Model Railway Engineer to support me. Thanks Andy, creator of MRE.

Disclaimer: Some links on this page will take you to Amazon or eBay through which you can buy the products mentioned. These links are made under the Amazon and eBay affiliate scheme which means that although the price to you doesn’t change I get a small commission on the orders you place. Please see the disclaimer for more details.

Texas State Railroad presents

Tickets will be on sale SOON!

The magical story comes to life the minute the train departs the Palestine Depot for the journey to the North Pole. (The adventure is even more fun when families and friends show up in their pajamas!)

Enveloped by the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the tale as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™. Once onboard, chefs serve hot chocolate and cookies as they recite the classic children’s book, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. (Be sure to purchase a book along with your tickets so your child can read his/her own book along with the chefs.)

At the North Pole, Santa and his elves greet passengers and then board the train. St. Nick gives everyone the first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell (only believers can hear ringing!). On the ride back to THE POLAR EXPRESS™ train depot, chefs lead passengers in singing joyous Christmas carols.

Make sure to purchase the official POLAR EXPRESS™ book for your child when you make your reservations. Gift-wrapped as their first gift of the season, they can read along with the Coco Chefs aboard the magical journey to the North Pole.


The sky-high Dome Class is located in the doubledecker Dome Car, complete with keepsake POLAR EXPRESS™ mugs, hot chocolate and cookies.

Seats are limited in the exclusive Presidential Class where keepsake POLAR EXPRESS™ mugs, hot chocolate and cookies make this a truly magical experience. Please note there is no access to viewing platform during Polar Express train rides.

First Class features couches, chairs or booth settings for parties of two or four along with keepsake POLAR EXPRESS™ mugs, hot chocolate and cookies.

The classes listed below do NOT include keepsake POLAR EXPRESS™ mugs.

Coach Class has historic Pullman-style seating for two. Hot chocolate and cookies are served by dancing Cocoa chefs.

Open-Air Coach has no glass in the panes so the outside air flows freely through the car. We suggest that you wear warm clothing, hats and gloves in inclement weather. Blankets are acceptable. Hot chocolate and cookies are served by dancing Cocoa chefs.

All cars have large viewing windows, thrilling children as they get their first glimpse of Santa and the North Pole.

Polar Express Frequently-asked Questions

Length of Ride

The round-trip train ride is approximately 60 minutes long.

Included in Ticket Price

All tickets include train ride, hot chocolate and sugar cookies. First-class, Dome and Presidential-class passengers receive a complimentary keepsake POLAR EXPRESS™ mug. All passengers in all classes receive a silver sleigh bell.

Picking Up Tickets

Tickets are picked up at the ticket window on the day of departure. (We do not mail tickets in advance.)

Clothing for Event

Pajamas for children of all ages is encouraged! Sturdy, closed-toe shoes are recommended. Jackets are recommended for time outdoors and when waiting to board the train.

Adult with Lap Child (One-Year-Old or Younger)

The purchase of an adult ticket with a lap-child ticket guarantees ONE seat. For the safety and comfort of all passengers, only one lap-child ticket may be purchased per one adult. (If you would like a seat for your one-year-old child, you may purchase a child’s ticket.)

Food Service during the Train Ride

Hot chocolate and cookies are served onboard the train. No outside food or drink is permitted. Food is available for purchase at the depot prior to and after the train ride.

Food Allergies

We cannot ensure that the hot chocolate or cookies presented on the train do not contain ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction. Please call a representative at 855-632-7729 to inquire about food allergy allowances.

Reservations made with odd numbers of tickets

Deluxe Coach, First Class, Presidential, and Dome car seating are all configured in even numbers. To ensure that an odd number of people in your party do sit together, you will need to purchase an even amount of seats.

Multiple Parties Seated Together

To ensure that multiple family members or groups are seated together, the reservation should be secured by one person under one confirmation number. If reservations are made separately, there is no guarantee of sitting in the same car.

Wheelchair Accessibility

The train only can accommodate a limited number of wheelchair patrons per each train departure. Please call a representative at 855-632-7729 to book your tickets for the entire party with a wheelchair passenger.

Departure Site

All POLAR EXPRESS™ train rides depart from Texas State Railroad’s Palestine depot located at 789 Park Road 70, Palestine, TX 75801

Pricing/Cancellation Policy

Due to the popularity of this event, there are no discounts available for POLAR EXPRESS™ tickets and, once purchased, there are no refunds or cancellations. Please be aware of your ride date and time.

Arrival Time

Plan to arrive 45 minutes prior to your POLAR EXPRESS™ adventure. We look forward to having you ride with us!

Polar Express™ Parking information now available at: https://www.galvestonrrmuseum.org/polar-express-parking

The story of The Polar Express is being theatrically re-created so you and your family can be immersed in the sights, sounds and intrigue of this classic children’s tale.

Set to the soundtrack of the motion picture, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ for a magical one-hour trip to meet Santa.

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride in Galveston consists of six separate cars pulled by vintage locomotives from the Galveston Railroad Museum’s collection. On board you will be seated in either Coach or First Class according to your ticket purchase. Every guest will experience the same excitement and wonder of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride.

Performance Dates:
November 15-17, 22-24, 27, & 29-30
& December 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 23, & 26-29

Show Times:
Fri, Sat and Sun: 5:00PM, 6:45PM & 8:30PM
Sunday Matinee 3:15PM
Tickets Prices: $27-$75

Tickets for this year are SOLD OUT – Tickets go on sale July 2020.

Please check the FAQ for questions. Museum phone number: 409-765-5700

The New Orleans Polar Express Train Ride


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For the first time, Polar Express Train Ride will come to L.A.

Get into your jammies and hop aboard the Polar Express for a train ride to the North Pole and back — without leaving Southern California. For the first time, the theatrical ride based on the holiday children’s book and movie is coming to the L.A. area.

Santa appears with gifts for kids during the hour-long Polar Express ride. (Guy Rhodes / Rail Events Productions)

Tickets are on sale now for rides starting Nov. 14 at two local routes: the Fillmore & Western Railway Co. in Fillmore (Ventura County) and Nov. 30 on the Southern California Railway Museum in Perris (Inland Empire). Rides continue through Dec. 29.

It costs $45 to $85 for adults, and $40 to $80 for children 2 to 11 years old, depending on what class of service you choose.


“The Polar Express” story is read aboard the train themed to the children’s book. (Guy Rhodes / Rail Events Productions)

The ride takes about an hour and features events from the story, such as the hot chocolate served by dancing chefs, and Santa’s appearance at the end of the journey.

During the ride, kids and guests read along from the book “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg, who will appear for book signings on Dec. 4 (Fillmore) and Dec. 5 (Perris). Each passenger receives a sleigh bell and golden ticket to take home (read the book to find out why).

The ride event is organized by Rail Events Productions and licensed by Warner Bros. The show ran at 48 locations in the U.S., Canada and Britain in 2018.


Info: The Polar Express Train Ride

Yes, you can experience a real-life version of The Polar Express! Railroads across the U.S. get in on the fun with hot chocolate, sing-alongs, visits with Santa and more. Some polar express train rides are exclusively licensed by the Polar Express, while others offer similar versions, and all are guaranteed to put the kids—and you—in the holiday spirit. These are the best Polar Express train rides for 2019.

1. The Polar Express Train Ride – Multiple Locations

Rail Events Inc. (on behalf of Warner Bros.) offers polar express train rides specifically licensed by the Polar Express. Guests are encouraged to wear their Christmas jammies for the rides, which are set to the soundtrack of the movie. Hot chocolate and cookies are served onboard and there is a reading of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. Upon arriving at the “North Pole,” Santa greets each child, who will receive their own sleigh bell—just like the movie!

There are several locations across the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom that offer the exclusive Polar Express Train Ride (including some locations listed below). You can find a full list of locations here.


What is it about trains and Christmas? The two have become inextricably linked—especially since The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg’s glorious picture book about the magic of Christmas, captured kids’ hearts and imaginations. During the holiday season, train rides complete with hot chocolate and visits from Santa bring Christmas stories like The Polar Express to life..for all who believe, of course.

Lucky for us, we have plenty of delightful train ride options in driving distance from Boston, from cozy, seaside New England journeys to 4-D movie experiences that feel like a real locomotive ride, right down to the sounds, sights, and even smells. Like other hot holiday shows, teas, and events that tend to sell out, seats on most of these trains fill up fast, so we recommend getting your golden tickets now.

1. ICS North Pole Express—Newburyport, MA
December 7, 2019
During the ICS North Pole Express train’s 70-minute journey from Newburyport to the North Pole, passengers listen to “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” while drinking hot cocoa and eating treats in their pajamas. The children write letters to Santa, play games led by the conductor, sing Christmas Carols and visit with Rudolph, Frosty, and the Christmas Mouse. The seats were already sold out for all five train departures as of press time, but you can join the waitlist and hope for a Christmas miracle!

2. The Polar Express 4-D Experience—Boston, MA
The Museum of Science has the perfect way to introduce the Polar Express to train-loving kiddos who may not be ready to sit for a longer show or ride: The Polar Express 4-D Experience is a 15-minute movie that jumps off the screen in 3-D and brings the story straight to you with 4-D multisensory effects.

All aboard for hot cocoa and snacks. Photo courtesy of Blackstone Valley Tourism Council

3. The Train to Christmas Town Ride—Buzzards Bay
Fri-Sun, November 29 – December 23, 2019 (additional train Monday, December 23)
Cape Cod Central Railroad is offering The Train to Christmas Town Ride this year. Aboard the train, dancing chefs serve warm cocoa and a delicious nut-free 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 Diamond Class, you get extra-special views and an additional keepsake to take home.

4. Edaville Railroad: Where’s Santa?—Carver
November 21 & December 5, 6, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, & 20
Embark on a 45-minute train ride adventure aboard the Edaville Express. Dancing elves serve chocolate milk, Hood Eggnog, and cookies on board the train while guests help Mrs. Claus and the elves search for Santa. After the train passes through Thomas Land and takes a turn into a magical land filled with over 12 million lights, it approaches a magical secret toy shop and Santa is there to join in on the fun. With your ticket you’re also invited to enjoy the Christmas Festival at Edaville, rides and all, for the full day of your train ride. Advance reservations are strongly recommended.

5. Jolly Jingle Express—Woburn
December 15, 2019
Score a seat on the Jolly Jingle Express for a 70-minute round trip train ride complete with Santa and his elves. Kids can enjoy cookies and chocolate milk as they watch a performance of The Night Before Christmas and listen to Christmas carols. Jolly Old Saint Nick will even give out a silver bell to each little rider as he listens to their Christmas wish. The train starts and finishes at the Anderson RTC in Woburn, MA.

Elves read the story of the Polar Express while kids enjoy the ride. Photo courtesy of Scituate North Pole Express

6. Scituate North Pole Express—Scituate, MA
November 17, 2019
The spirit of the holiday descends upon the South Shore as children embark on a magical train ride on the Scituate North Pole Express, departing from the Greenbush Commuter Rail Station. During the 60-90- minute train ride, children (and their adults) will be entertained with a reading of The Polar Express, enjoy milk and cookies, sing Christmas carols, and be visited by merry elves, Frosty, Rudolph, and—of course—Santa and Mrs. Claus. Each child receives a special gift from Santa and a magical silver bell. There are four departure times, and tickets are available online only.

7. Polar Express 4D Motion Odyssey Movie Ride—Avon, MA
At Jordan’s Furniture Polar Express, fans watch a 20-minute version of the movie as a moving seat takes them climbing and sliding along. Melting snow will tickle skin and the smells of rich hot chocolate will liven the ride on The Polar Express 4D Motion Odyssey Movie Ride. It’s as close as you can get to actually stepping into the action of the movie! Note: there is a 40″ height minimum, so your little elves may need to wait for a growth spurt and ride next year.

8. The Blackstone Valley Polar Express—Woonsocket, RI
Fri-Sun, November 15 – December 22, 2019
The Blackstone Valley Polar Express welcomes all aboard for a sing-a-long, visits and photos with Santa, hot chocolate, and a cookie. Kids get a gift from Santa plus a coloring book and crayons. While you’re waiting in the train depot you can pick up some souvenirs and pose for photos in front of the jolly backdrops.

9. Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Polar Express—Portland, ME
Fri-Sun, November 22 – December 23, 2019
Climb aboard this historic train for a journey to the “North Pole”—in a spot that’s geographically a little closer to it! Families traveling to this Maine event will enjoy hot chocolate and cookies served by the train’s chefs and listen to a reading of the classic Polar Express story. Santa greets children aboard the train while passengers sing along to carols as they travel back to the train station.

Post originally published December 2013 and updated annually.


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