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Main blog image: © Seaton Tramway (Enterprises) Ltd

Here’s something that’s sure to get the kids chuffed on a fun Chrismassy family Staycation Holiday break – meeting Santa on a steam train!

Take a look at our 14 unmissable Christmas Santa Specials for 2021. No two are the same, but most include seasonal refreshments and music, a gift from Santa and a photo opportunity. Plus, of course, a ride on a steam train (or tram!) through some of the most scenic countryside in Britain.

To put you on the right track for a pre-Christmas Santa Steam break, all of our nearby holiday cottages offer a minimum stay of 2 or 3 nights! Please remember that these trains are always popular, tickets sell fast and advanced booking is essential.

1. Santa Experiences at the GWSR

Christmas Santa Specials: Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, Toddington Station, Gloucestershire GL54 5DT

© Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

When: November 27-28, December 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 21-24 2021
Where: Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, Toddington Station, Gloucestershire GL54 5DT
Details;A sell out every year, you really have to pre-book your tickets as soon as they are released! There are two great ways to visit Santa: either by Santa Express from Toddington Station by loco-hauled train all the way to the North Pole (or Winchcombe!) where you’ll meet Santa and his elves in his wonderland of lights, trees and decorations; or Ride with Santa from Toddington Station in an early 1960s diesel rail car with Santa and his young elves on board the train, spending lots of time sitting with each family.
Visit: www.gwsr.com/Santa.html for details and to pre-book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Why not treat the family to a pre-Christmas break at one of our Cotswold Lake Lodges nearby.

2. Festive Days out with Thomas, East Anglian Railway Museum

Christmas Santa Specials: East Anglian Railway Museum, Colchester, Essex

© East Anglian Railway Museum

When: December 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 2021
Where: East Anglian Railway Museum, Station Rd, Wakes Colne, Colchester, Essex CO6 2DS
Details;In Essex someone has come up with the ingenious idea of combining the Santa Special with another heritage railway phenomenon; Thomas the Tank Engine. Their Day out with Thomas and Santa offers unlimited rides with Thomas and his friends Daisy, Percy and Toad and, for a small extra charge and pre-booked tickets only, a visit to Santa's Grotto where each child receives a gift from Santa. The Fat Controller will also be on hand to make sure that Thomas is being a really useful engine whilst Rusty and Dusty, Sodor's Station Sweepers, will be causing mischief.
Visit: www.earm.co.uk for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Check out The Piggery and our holiday lodges at Wakes Colne. Our lodges are dog-friendly and well behaved dogs on leads are welcome at this event.

3. Santa by Steam, Bodmin & Wenford Railway

Christmas Santa Specials: Bodmin & Wenford Railway, Bodmin, Cornwall

© Bodmin & Wenford Railway

When: December 4-5, 11-12, 17-24 2021
Where: Bodmin & Wenford Railway, Bodmin, Cornwall PL31 1AQ
Details: Santa has ditched his sleigh in favour of a fun-filled journey through the beautiful Cornish countryside. Visitors to the station will be greeted by Santa’s elves, before boarding the enchanting steam train for a 50 minute journey to Bodmin Parkway. Whilst aboard the train children will have the chance to write their list to Santa before returning back to Bodmin General. Once back at Bodmin General, children will have the opportunity to do some Christmas themed activities before they go and visit Santa in his unique Victorian coach. Each child will receive an age-appropriate gift and the opportunity to have their photo taken with Santa.
Visit: www.bodminrailway.co.uk for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Why not treat the family to a relaxing short break at one of our cosy holiday cottages in South East Cornwall, just 12 miles from Bodmin Station.

4. Santa Specials at Yeovil Railway Centre

Christmas Santa Specials: Yeovil Railway Centre, Yeovil Junction Station

© Yeovil Railway Centre

When: December 5, 13, 18-19, 23 2021
Where: Yeovil Railway Centre, Yeovil Junction Station, Yeovil, BA22 9UU
Details: It’s next stop Santa's workshop as Yeovil Railway Centre gets fabulously festive. Hop aboard a nostalgic festive journey in a decorated heritage carriage on one of their steam locomotives. The track is about a third of a mile long and the train ride is full of fun for your children. On board, adults receive mince pie and tea/coffee, with a soft drink and chocolate treat thrown in for the children! Youngsters are then in for a special treat as every junior passenger has a one to one with Santa in his ex GWR Transfer Shed (magically transformed into his grotto) and receives an age appropriate gift.
Visit: yeovilrailway.freeservers.com/santabooking.htm for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Our beautiful cottages near Ilminster and Goose Run in Corscombe are 20-25 minutes’ drive away.

5. Peak Rail Santa and Steam Specials

Christmas Santa Specials: Peak Rail Santa and Steam Specials

© Peak Rail

When: December 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 22-24 2021
Where: Peak Rail (Rowsley South Station), off Harrison Way, Darley Dale, Matlock DE4 2LF
Details: Check out the popular Santa Specials on offer at Peak Rail, where children can board Santa’s beautifully decorated magical steam train at Rowsley South Station on a return journey to Matlock. Santa and his elves will be on board to greet all of the children and give out presents (he won’t forget the grown-ups, there’s a hot chocolate and a mince pie for them!).
Visit: www.peakrail.co.uk for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Our fabulous family friendly Bakewell cottages are all within a 20 minute drive of Rowsey South Station.

6. Polar Express™ Tram Ride, Seaton Tramway

Christmas Santa Specials: Polar Express™ Tram Ride on the Seaton Tramway , Devon

© Seaton Tramway (Enterprises) Ltd

When: November 26-28, December 2-5, 8-12, 14-24 2021
Where: Seaton Tramway, Harbour Road, Seaton, Devon, EX12 2NQ
Details: OK, this is not Christmas Santa train as it is a tram - but it’s such a memorable experience for your little’uns, we wanted to include it! Fully licensed with Warner Bros and RailEvents, this event is an official Polar Express Experience. And just like everyone’s favourite Christmas movie, you are welcome to turn up for your trip to the ‘North Pole’ in your jim jams! During the 2.5 hour event in the specially decorated single deck tramcars, sing along with all the songs and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies served by the dancing chefs. Admire the awesome lights whilst you walk around the North Pole. Each passenger receives a silver sleigh bell as a gift from Santa and his happy elves.
Visit: www.tram.co.uk/ThePolarExpressSeaton for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Make this wonderful experience complete with a stay at one of our East Devon holiday cottages, less than 30 minutes’ drive away.

7. Bure Valley Railway Festive Express

Christmas Santa Specials: Bure Valley Railway Festive Express

© Bure Valley Centre

When: December 4-5, 11-12, 18-24 2021
Where: Bure Valley Railway, Aylsham Station, Norwich Road, Aylsham, Norfolk NR11 6BW
Details: Take a one hour festive steam train ride from the twinkly lights of Aylsham Station to Brampton and back, where Santa will be waiting in his Grotto to will greet you from his railway sleigh, filled with yule-time gifts for all the kids. While at the Grotto, there will be time to get a few snaps with the main man himself. Running for over 25 years, these festive-themed journeys are always a hit so get in quick.
Visit: www.bvrw.co.uk/events for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Cosy up in our luxury holiday cottage in Banningham just 7 minutes’ drive away.

8. Santa Trains at Lappa Valley Steam Railway

Christmas Santa Specials: Santa Trains at Lappa Valley Steam Railway

© Lappa Valley Steam Railway

When: Most dates have sold out - the only available date left is December 10 2021
Where: Benny Halt, St Newlyn East, Cornwall
Details: Every year Santa makes some special stops in magical places to see the boys and girls, and Lappa Steam Railway at St Newlyn East is one of those places. Board the narrow-gauge vintage Santa Train bound for Santa's festive grotto at East Wheal Rose where children will meet and receive a specially selected gift from the man himself. Tickets include your return steam ride and entrance to the leisure park where you can enjoy shows from an entertainer, rides on the miniature woodland railway, pedal cars, children's play areas, crazy golf (weather permitting), woodland walks and a toddler's path maze.
Visit: www.lappavalley.co.uk for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Check out Rosevean House and our Killigorrick Farm Cottages.

9. Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Magical Christmas Journey

Christmas Santa Specials: Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Magical Christmas Journey

© Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

When: December 4-5, 11-12, 18-24 2021
Where: Wirksworth Station, Station Road, Wirksworth, Derbyshire DE4 4FB
Details: Ecclesbourne Valley Railway offers a magical Christmas experience as it makes its way through glorious Derbyshire Dales countryside on a festive rail ride to remember. Departing from Wirksworth’s beautiful old station, Mr Tickets and his friends are waiting with your Golden Ticket! Sing along with the Porters on the platform as they dance, sing and entertain throughout the journey telling the story of Santa's railway. Once on board, Santa and his elves will visit your compartment and give out presents for your children (and hot chocolate and yummy cookies for everyone!).
Visit: www.e-v-r.com/christmas for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Our cottages near Bakewell are perfect for getting your kids excited and are less than 30 minutes’ drive away.

10. North Norfolk Railway Santa Specials

Christmas Santa Specials: North Norfolk Railway Santa Specials

Photo credit Leigh Caudwell/North Norfolk railway

When: November 27-28, December 4-5, 11-12, 18-24 2021
Where: Sheringham Station, Station Approach, Sheringham NR26 8RA
Details: Imagine the excitement of a steam train journey to Santaland! North Norfolk's 'Poppy Line' operates unique Santa Specials from Sheringham to Weybourne through some of Norfolk's most beautiful winter scenery. Alight at the charming Edwardian Station at Weybourne, enjoy seasonal refreshments for adults and children and stroll through the marvellously decorated and themed Christmas Tree Kingdom en route to see Santa and his elves. There’s a wrapped present for every child and time for photographs before you rejoin the train for the run back to Sheringham.
Visit: www.nnrailway.co.uk for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Check out gorgeous The Coach House in Banningham 30 minutes’ drive away.

11. Santa Express, West Somerset Railway

Christmas Santa Specials: Santa Express - West Somerset Railway

Top right photo: Credit Aaron Manley; other images: West Hollowcombe Farm Cottages

When: November 30, December 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-24 2021
Where: Bishops Lydeard Station, Station Rd, Bishop's Lydeard, Taunton TA4 3BX
Details: Santa has teamed up with the West Somerset Railway to offer you a seasonal steam ride through West Somerset’s winter woodlands and countryside transformed on a round trip to Williton. The festively decorated carriages on this popular heritage line are filled with Christmas cheer and excitement as Santa's presents and refreshments will be waiting at your table. And of course, he'll be along for the ride to ensure you have received them!
Visit: www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/events/detail/santa-special for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Enjoy this Santa Express experience during a pre-Christmas stay at one of our Exmoor holiday cottages or Ilminster Cottages.

12. Santa Specials at the Avon Valley Railway

Christmas Santa Specials: Santa Specials at the Avon Valley Railway

© Avon Valley Railway

When: November 27-28, December 4-6, 11-12, 18-19, 21-24 2021
Where: Avon Valley Railway, Bitton Station, 3 Bath Road, Bristol BS30 6HD
Details: The Avon Valley Railway offers a magical Christmas experience on an hour long festive steam train ride from Bitton Station. Once onboard, you’ll enjoy a mince pie or festive biscuit as you travel the line and when you return to Bitton Station, children will be able to meet the legendary man in red (providing they have been good) and his elves and have the chance to take family photographs with him, before collecting an age related gift. The festive Christmas donkeys are also returning and you’ll be able to see these on the lawn at Bitton Station, either before or after you’ve travelled on the train.
Visit: www.avonvalleyrailway.org/events/santa-special for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Why not book a stay for the whole tribe at Kingsley Lake View or Kingsley Paddocks less than 30 minutes’ drive away?

13. Santa Specials, Colne Valley Railway

Christmas Santa Specials: Santa Specials - Colne Valley Railway

© Colne Valley Railway; top right Wakes Colne Holiday Lodges

When: December 5, 11-12, 18-19, 21-22 2021
Where: Colne Valley Railway, Castle Hedingham, Halstead, Essex CO9 3DZ
Details: Sample the atmosphere and join Colne Valley Railway this festive season. You will meet Santa in his grotto before climbing aboard a diesel train and travelling along its unique one mile line to collect your present from Santa's Toy Shop. Whilst here you can visit an interactive museum, a working signalbox, a large indoor model railway and a garden model railway (weather permitting).
Visit: www.colnevalleyrailway.co.uk for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Check out The Piggery and our holiday lodges at Wakes Colne.

14. The Polar Express™ at South Devon Railway

Christmas Santa Specials: Santa Specials - Colne Valley Railway

© South Devon Railway

When: November 20-21, 26-28; December 2-5, 9-12, 15-23 2021
Where: The Station, Dartbridge Road, Buckfastleigh, Devon, TQ11 0DZ
Details: Golden Tickets are selling out pretty quickly for the Polar Express™ Train Ride at South Devon Railway, where a cast of iconic characters from The Polar Express are waiting to take you to the North Pole and back again, with a lot of Christmas magic. The Conductor will even clip your ticket just like in the film! You’ll be entertained throughout your train ride, meeting the Conductor and characters from the film including the singing chefs. At the North Pole, Santa and his friendly elves will join you on board and, if you are on the nice list, hand you your first gift of Christmas, a silver sleigh bell, just as in the motion picture we all love.
Visit: southdevonrailwaythepolarexpressride.com for details and to book tickets.
Where to stay nearby: Our beautiful Devon cottages are less than 40 minutes’ drive away.

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