Climb aboard the Lapland Express for a fun Christmas experience with Santa, Mrs Claus and their helpers

Sorry, this event has been cancelled

We will be in touch with everyone who has booked tickets.

This event is running on Saturdays and Sundays before Christmas

Due to serious flooding in Downpatrick affecting the railway badly, we have cancelled this event.

A new event, the Elves’ Messy Kitchen, is running instead. Please read this page for more details.

Dates and times

  • Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th November*
  • Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd December
  • Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th December
  • Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th December
  • Saturday 23rd December*

Trains depart Downpatrick at 12:00, 13:15, 14:30, 15:55 and 17:10

* Not all times are currently available on these dates, please check carefully when booking.


  • Adults: £18.50
  • Children: £23  (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 you will be welcomed by our volunteers at our Downpatrick station
  • You will receive a Christmas cookie and a drink to enjoy on the journey (both adults and children)
  • Santa’s helpers will help to get you all on board the train before departure
  • The event will last approximately 45 minutes, including train ride to Inch Abbey and back, with entertainment from Santa, Mrs Claus and the Elves
  • Entertainment will include an interactive magic display and other fun and games
  • Santa will visit you at your seat
  • Children will receive a age appropriate present – providing they’ve managed to keep themselves off Santa’s naughty list!

Please note: in the event of steam engines not being available, a vintage diesel locomotive or railcar may substitute. This does not make the day any less fun!

On arrival

Please arrive 20-30 minutes before your train. 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 numbers on our trains this may not be possible.

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


Lapland Express – your questions answered

We’ve listed the common questions about our Lapland Express trains below. Use our Contact Us page if your question isn’t covered here.

Is the experience the same as previous years?

We changed our Lapland Express in 2021, and we are retaining the new format. The experience now involves a train ride with on board entertainment from Santa and Mrs Claus and their elves. Santa will visit families at their seats, and children will receive a present. All passengers will receive a cookie and drink on arrival before they board the train.

Where does the train go?

The train runs to the platform at Inch Abbey and will return to Downpatrick station.  Passengers will remain on board for the entire journey. Santa and his helpers will entertain passengers throughout the journey. Journey will take approx. 45 minutes.

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 station and train wheelchair accessible?

Yes. There is level access from the car park to the platform, and a ramp can be deployed to assist wheelchairs onto the train. There is a dedicated area for wheelchair passengers where they can sit with their family. Wheelchair accessible toilets are available.

As spaces on this train are limited , we would recommend contacting us in advance so we can reserve this space for you and your family, to save any delay on the platform or train.

Can I bring a pram or buggy?

Space is limited on our trains, and it is not possible to wheel a pram down the carriages of the train you travel on. There is an area for prams and wheelchairs on one of our carriages, but we can only carry a few prams at a time. If possible, we would prefer you leave the pram in the station or in your car.

I am a carer – do I have to pay?

We provide free admission for a carer accompanying a paying adult visitor (aged 18+) to our railway 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 the railway. 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?

The Lapland Express is a very popular event, but with pre-booking the queues are a thing of the past. Just try to not arrive too early for your train, especially if the weather is cold.

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 train?

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

Are the Santa trains running during the week?

No, we only run trains on the weekend dates listed on this page.

Where is the railway station?

Downpatrick Station is on the main Downpatrick-Newcastle road (the Ballydugan Road). The entrance for the station is between Rathkeltair House (the tax office) and the Translink bus station. Look out for the brown road signs that say “Railway Museum” and follow those.

For more details, please see our How to Find Us page for maps and directions.

Where can I board the train?

For the Lapland Express you can only board at Downpatrick Station. Inch Abbey Station will not be open.

Are dogs allowed?

Due to the nature of the event we can only welcome Assistance Dogs onto the train.

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?

Yes, the shop and museum are open throughout our Christmas season.

Will there be toilets on the train?

There are no toilet facilities on the train but we have toilets on our main platform at Downpatrick station. Please make sure you use the toilet before you board the train, especially in cold weather!

Is your Santa the real thing?

Of course he is! The real Santa comes to see us and only us!