There’s only one sound that marks the start of the Christmas period in South Devon, and that’s the whistle of the Santa Express Steam Train as it chugs its way between Paignton and Kingswear. The Dartmouth Steam Railway transforms some of its historic steam trains into festive Santa’s grottos, and there are usually three trains each day in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Tickets must be booked in advance, and each journey includes the chance for the children to meet Santa and select a special gift, and there’s always festive entertainment from his helpers for the rest of the journey. There’s a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie for the mums and dads, and this is one of the South West’s most popular Christmas events.
Be prepared to join in with the live entertainment (previous years have seen the helpers enlist the kids’ help chasing Scrooge away) and brace yourselves for a journey you’ll remember for years to come. Board the train in Paignton and sit back as it winds its way through the wintry South Devon scenery, and then return from Kingswear. The station will be decorated to get you in the Christmas spirit even before you board, and there's a log fire to keep you warm and toasty while you wait.
The Santa Express runs on 12th, 13th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th December. Tickets must be booked in advance.