Arctic Circle Adventures by Train

With a ticket to the Polar Express, you’ll relive the magic of the motion picture in an all-new experience! Car hosts greet passengers, punch golden tickets and offer hot chocolate and cookies.

Once at The North Pole, Santa boards the train and visits with each family. He also gives each child their first gift of Christmas – a silver keepsake sleigh bell!

Embark on a magical journey

The Polar Express Train Ride is a beloved holiday tradition for many families. It’s a chance to relive the magical journey from the beloved book and movie while enjoying hot chocolate, cookies, and other fun activities. Children and adults are encouraged to wear their pajamas for this special event. The experience lasts around 90 minutes and features entertainment, singing, the reading of the story, and a visit from Santa. Guests will also receive their first gift of Christmas, a silver bell, just like in the movie!

The 2023 show runs November through December. Tickets go on sale to the public Tuesday, October 3. Museum Members will have an exclusive pre-purchase opportunity one week earlier.

During this epic Arctic Circle Adventure, you’ll experience Norway’s spectacular Trondelag region at its finest. From Bergen to Alesund, you’ll see some of the country’s most magnificent fjords and villages. You’ll even get the chance to step aboard a RIB-boat and venture into Saltstraumen, one of the world’s strongest whirlpools. Then you’ll board the Nordland Railway, nicknamed “The Polar Express,” and head into the heart of Norway’s Arctic Circle. You’ll stay in hotels that range from boutique stays to traditional fisherman cabins.

Your journey will also include a visit to Kiruna, home of the largest iron ore mine in the world. From there, you’ll take the famous Northern Lights Train to Abisko. This legendary night train winds its way through Swedish Lapland and into Norway’s famous Narvik fjord. We can help you pre-book a variety of tours in the region, including northern lights chases and excursions to explore the magical fairy village of Torneträsk. You’ll even have the chance to sleep in a traditional fisherman’s cabin!

Relive the magic of The Polar Express book

The Polar Express is an enchanting story of faith, hope and the magic of Christmas. Written and illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Chris Van Allsburg, the story transports readers to a magical train ride through the North Pole. The beautiful artwork and detailed narrative of the book create a comforting and calming experience while families read together. The book is also a wonderful way to discuss the power of belief and how faith can transform our lives.

At the end of the story, the boy is selected by Santa to receive “The First Gift of Christmas.” He asks for a silver bell that can only be heard by those who believe. On the return journey home, the boy carries his bell with him and it reminds him that the wonder of Christmas will never fade if we keep believing.

Bring your own copies of The Polar Express to read along with the family during the trip or purchase a copy onboard. The Polar Express is the perfect way to kick-off your holiday season and share the magic of the story with your loved ones.

Enjoy a delicious meal

Travelers enjoy the deluxe dining experience aboard The Polar Express. The deluxe table option includes an hour long trip to the North Pole in a historic train car with a reserved premium individual cushioned seat (capacity 4 adults per table). On board, guests will be served hot chocolate and cookies, a reading of the beloved children’s book, and entertainment.

Each guest is also given a keepsake silver bell. The story of The Polar Express, first told in the award-winning book by Chris Van Allsburg, comes to life on this memorable journey. Characters on each of the train cars lead fantastic onboard entertainment and read the story of The Polar Express to passengers.

During the trip, guests can alight at select stops to explore the breathtaking natural scenery. They can also enjoy a unique adventure by jumping aboard a RIB-boat for a thrilling ride through Saltstraumen, one of the world’s strongest whirlpools.

The final destination of this tour is Bodo, a city that is slated to become one of Europe’s 2024 European Capitals of Culture. Bodo offers boutique hotels, delicious restaurants and a lively emerging arts scene. A visit to the town’s renowned seafood market is a must, as is trying out local dried fish in the many restaurants and cafes.

This Arctic circle train journey begins with a flight to Fairbanks, where travelers will spend two nights in the enchanting Brooks Mountain Range known for phenomenal northern lights viewing. From there, guests will take a scenic drive along the mighty Yukon River and cross the Alaska Highway. The journey will conclude with a return flight to Anchorage, ending with spectacular aerial views of the pristine landscapes of Alaska’s interior.

See the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are spectacular natural light displays that illuminate the night sky with a kaleidoscope of luminous green, yellow, pink and magenta. The lights can be seen all year round but they are especially stunning in winter when the sun hardly sets and the sky is dark.

In the film, the Polar Express stops at a train station and a boy sees a glowing light outside his window. The conductor tells him that the train is headed to the North Pole where he will meet Santa Claus. The boy is skeptical and refuses to board, but he soon finds himself aboard the train alongside a spirited girl and a know-it-all boy.

The train takes passengers through stunning mountains, fjords, and snowy landscapes in northern Scandinavia. It also passes by some of the world’s most beautiful cities, including Oslo and Bergen. There are a number of unique adventures included in the tour, such as hiking Godoya Island, cruising Naeroyfjorden Fjord, and riding Europe’s steepest railway, Flam Railway. In addition, passengers are treated to onboard entertainment by characters from The Polar Express film and receive a keepsake sleigh bell just like in the movie!

The Arctic Circle Adventures by Train is available year-round, though the experience varies significantly by season. In winter, short days limit the amount of time to admire frozen landscapes and night trains provide viewing opportunities for the Northern Lights. Alternatively, add a land tour to the rail trip such as the Arctic Drive Adventure to explore Alaska’s rugged Dalton Highway and the mighty Yukon River. Or, extend your tour with a stint on the legendary Ofoten Railway, known as the ‘Arctic train’. This rail line traverses Norway’s stunning fjords and mountains through a rugged and untamed landscape from Narvik to Sweden.

Meet Santa

The Polar Express train experience has become a tradition in many families, and some of these trips feature special events, such as meeting Santa Claus on board. This is a great opportunity for kids to ask for their Christmas wish list, and for adults to create memories that will last a lifetime.

The fun starts as soon as passengers board the train at Leeming Bar station. Car hosts punch a golden ticket for each passenger and serve them hot chocolate and cookies. Onboard, characters lead guests in a reading of The Polar Express motion picture and other holiday entertainment. Each child gets to meet the conductor and receive a silver sleigh bell like in the story.

On The Polar Express trains, passengers are encouraged to wear pajamas and bring a copy of the book for the conductor to sign. Children ages two and under must be seated on an adult’s lap. The train ride is an hour long, and passengers enjoy a magical trip to the North Pole where they see the tunnel of lights and meet Santa in his grotto.

Christmas train rides transform into magical journeys for the whole family, with festive onboard entertainment, hot cocoa, and visits from Santa. The Polar Express train ride at the Strasburg Rail Road, the Night Before Christmas Train in Jim Thorpe, and Santa’s Paradise Express in Chester Creek Valley all offer tales, treats, and a visit with the man himself to help families create timeless holiday memories. Each passenger also gets a silver sleigh bell to take home.

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