Join Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their cheeky elves for an afternoon of festive fun in the Elves' Mess Hall!


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This event is running on Saturdays and Sundays before Christmas

Please see the below message from Santa himself welcoming you all to our new event, the Elves’ Mess Hall!


As we are sure you have been following on the news, and our social media and webpages, the railway was hit by severe flooding in October and November, with all of our tracks, trains, and buildings severely damaged by deep floodwater. Work to recover the railway is underway, but the damage is simply too much to run steam trains as we had originally planned.

However, all is not lost! Santa and Mrs. Claus have invited you to join them at the Elves’ Mess Hall in Down County Museum. On arrival at the museum you can enjoy the museum exhibitions while you wait to be welcomed by two of Santa’s cheeky elves, Nutmeg and Holly. Your group will then be escorted to the hall, where you can enjoy a Hot Chocolate and Cookie as you wait for Santa to appear. The two cheeky elves will be up to plenty of mischief as well so watch out!

Santa and Mrs Claus will meet and greet the group with some interactive magic before doing their one to one chats with the children and distributing their presents. There will be plenty opportunities for photos throughout the event.

The event will last roughly the same time as the Lapland Express would have done, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Your interaction with Santa will be exactly the same as before – the only difference is that it won’t be on a train.

Here’s a few photos to show you what the new event is like:

Click the photos to see them at full size

Dates and times

  • Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd December
  • Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th December
  • Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th December
  • Saturday 23rd December

Times are: 12:00, 13:15, 14:30, 15:55 and 17:10


  • Adults: £11
  • Children: £15.50 (includes a present)
  • Infants not requiring a present, drink or cookie: free
  • Eligible carers: free if you meet the criteria – please see the FAQs below.

Presents from Santa are age-appropriate gifts. Our gifts are not selection boxes or other food items.

Please be sure to choose the correct aged tickets for the children, either 0-5 years old, or 6+ years old. If you choose the wrong age by accident, don’t worry, just Contact Us and we will sort this out.

On the day

  • On arrival at Down County Museum you can explore the history of the old Gaol, before being welcomed by the Elves into their mess hall
  • Everyone in your group – adult or child – will receive a drink and a cookie
  • Santa’s helpers will guide you to your table
  • The event will last approximately 45 minutes, with entertainment from Santa, Mrs Claus and the Elves
  • Entertainment will include a interactive magic, crafts, and other fun and games
  • Santa will visit you at your seat
  • Children will receive an age-appropriate present – providing they’ve managed to keep themselves off Santa’s naughty list!

On arrival

Please aim to arrive at least 10 – 15 minutes before your booked time. We will always do our best to accommodate you if there are any changes in your travel plans or you experience travel issues on the day, but due to limited seating in the hall this may not always be possible.

Make sure you have your eTicket or reference number with you, either on paper or on your mobile phone.

This event does not take place at the railway station. Please ensure you go to Down County Museum on arrival. See the below FAQ section for directions.


The Elves’ Mess Hall – your questions answered

We’ve listed the common questions about our Elves’ Mess Hall event. Use our Contact Us page if your question isn’t covered here.

Where do we go?

The event is being held at Down County Museum in the old gaol on English Street, between Down Cathedral and Downpatrick Courthouse. You can see it on the following map:

On entry to the town from either the Belfast road or the Newcastle road, follow the brown signs to the Down County Museum. There is limited on-street parking available on English Street. Disabled parking is available directly outside the museum.

Alternatively, you can park in the large free car park outside our railway station on Market Street. The station car park is approximately 7 minutes’ walk from the Down County Museum, and there is a long flight of steps on the way – Please bear this in mind if you choose to park at the railway.

Unlike our steam trains, this event will be indoors, but you will want to wear something warm for the walk from the car to the museum.

Why is the train not running this year?

In late October/early November our railway, as with the rest of Downpatrick, was hit by a freak flooding incident. Unfortunately, this has rendered the railway inoperable for the immediate future. Recovery is underway and we hope to be back next year, but for now it is simply not possible to run trains. You can find out more about the flood, and our recovery appeal, on this page.

My child or someone else in my group has a food allergy. What do we do about the snack?

Please contact us after you book to tell us of any special dietary requirements and we will do our best to accommodate them. The snack will be provided by a local artisan bakery and we cannot guarantee that there would be no cross contamination from peanuts. We will try to provide allergen-free alternatives where possible.

If your child has a severe allergy to nut traces in foods that other people would be eating, we would advise against attending the event, as we cannot guarantee that this can be avoided.

I have a teenage son/daughter who doesn’t want a gift from Santa, do they have to pay the child’s fare?

No, if they’re too old for a gift from Santa they can book an adult ticket. There are no concessionary tickets for this event. All passengers will enjoy the same experience, and all passengers will receive a drink and snack.

What if I need to change my booking?

We understand that travel plans change, especially with families, so if you need to change your booking then please use our Contact Us page, provide your booking reference and let us know what you want to do. We will do our best to rebook you for another time or date if capacity is available.

If you are unable to travel, then we may offer you a refund or a voucher for a future event, depending on circumstances.

Can I bring a toddler who doesn’t need a present from Santa?

Yes, you are most welcome to bring a toddler with you to the event, if they don’t require a present or food and drink. We don’t charge for such young children, though do require the 50p booking fee to be paid, as the ticketing company still charges that. Please note that you must have at least one other child who is actually receiving a present.

A toddler will then take up one of the maximum of eight seats available to your booking, to keep crowding to a minimum.

Is the event wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the eevnt is fully accessible. Wheelchair accessible toilets are available.

Can I bring a pram or buggy?

Due to limited space we advise you leave prams and buggies in the car if you can. However, if you need to bring a pram or buggy with you the venue is fully accessible to them.

I am a carer – do I have to pay?

We provide free admission for a carer accompanying a paying adult visitor (aged 18+) to any event throughout the year, including the special events at Easter, Halloween and Christmas. This is intended to help people who are otherwise not able to travel independently to enjoy their visit to our events. It does not generally apply to children who would always be accompanied by an adult regardless of any additional need.

Please check to see if you meet the criteria in our Carers Policy.

You can’t book this online, so please contact us after you book for the rest of your group to arrange this, explaining your requirements.

How long does the visit last?

Your visit will last approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Dress up warm, Downpatrick can be a cold place in winter!

Will the queues for Santa be long?

With pre-booking, queues are a thing of the past. You will not have to queue to see Santa – just take your seat and he will come round to you!

Do I have to pre-book?

Yes! Advanced booking is essential. We will not have any ticket selling facilities on the day.

I don’t have a printer, what do I do with my tickets?

Don’t worry. You don’t need to print your ticket out, though some people do find it handy.
You can just show us your ticket on your phone, or you can even write down the booking reference and bring it with you.

What if I miss my slot?

If you miss your booked time, don’t worry. We will try our best to accommodate you in the next one. If you manage to miss the last slot of the night, then we will either re-book you onto another date or refund your ticket in full.

Is the event running during the week?

No, the event is only running on the weekend dates listed on this page.

Where is Down County Museum?

Down County Museum is in the old gaol on English Street, between Down Cathedral and Downpatrick Courthouse. On entry to the town from either the Belfast road or the Newcastle road, follow the brown signs to the Museum.

You can find the museum on Google Maps here.

Is there parking at Down County Museum?

There is limited street parking available on English Street. Alternatively, you can park in the large free car park outside our railway station on Market Street. The station car park is approximately 7 minutes’ walk from the County Museum, and there is a long flight of steps on the way – Please bear this in mind if you choose to park at the railway.

Are dogs allowed?

Due to the nature of the event we can only welcome Assistance Dogs into the Elves’ Mess Hall

Can you take Visa/Mastercard/etc.?

Yes, we can take credit cards and debit cards via our online booking system, or if you phone us to do a telephone booking. We cannot take any payments on the day.

Will the shop and museum be open?

Unfortunately the railway station shop and museum will be closed. Subject to volunteer availability we hope to have a small stall selling railway gifts.