Take the steam train to visit Santa at his magic workshop at Ireland’s only full size heritage railway.

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This event is running on Saturdays and Sundays before Christmas

Final details for Christmas 2020 have still be be decided, so please check back later in the year!


Please check the online ticket office for times. Doors will open generally at 1pm and close after 5pm, but you will be booking for travel on a specific train and won’t be able to get in until 30 minutes before your train.

On the day

Please arrive in good time for your train – allow at least half an hour in case there’s queues. You may not be able to get on an earlier train with your ticket, so please be patient if this happens to you. 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.

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 steam trains below. Just tap or click a heading to read the answer. Use our Contact Us page if your question isn’t covered here.

You board the train at Downpatrick Station and take a trip along the South Line towards King Magnus’ Halt. The train then returns to the Loop Platform where Santa’s special North Pole workshop train is waiting. Everyone gets off the train and your children get their present from Santa in his workshop, where you can take photos with Santa if you wish. You can have a cup of tea or refreshments in the buffet carriage there while you wait for the next train to pick you up again.Depending on Santa’s busy work schedule these days, he might also nip out to see the train arrive or depart.

There’s also a Thomas the Tank Engine model railway exhibition in the station while you wait for the train (to keep the children amused), or you can visit the Carriage Gallery to explore our collection of heritage carriages and locomotives. We have a souvenir shop for late railway-themed Christmas presents too, be sure to call in before you leave.

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

No, if they’re too old to see Santa then the concessionary fares apply if they are under 16 or if they are a full time student.

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, or along the train at Santa’s workshop. There is an area for prams and wheelchairs on one of our carriages, but we can only carry a few prams at a time.

I am a carer – do I have to pay?

Carers can travel free of charge if they meet the criteria in our Carers Policy. You can’t book this online yet, 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?

The trains will be running at 40 minute intervals to a fixed timetable, so be prepared to stay for up to 2 hours. Dress up warm, Downpatrick is a cold place in winter!

Will the queues for Santa be long?

The Lapland Express is a very popular event, but with pre-booking and online ticketing, queues should be a thing of the past. Just don’t arrive too early for your train if you don’t want to hang around too long. We recommend you aim to arrive about 30 minutes before your train.

Do I have to pre-book?

Yes! Advanced booking gives you piece of mind that you have a place on a train on the date and time you have chosen. This reduces queues and reduces stress for everyone. If you do not have a pre-booked ticket, you may not be able to get on the train to see Santa. We will do our best to accommodate you, but we strongly recommend you pre-book.

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.

Do you have wheelchair access?

We have wheelchair access into the main station building, as well as wheelchair friendly carriages with double-doors, and accessible toilets at Downpatrick Station building. Please ask a member of staff for help into the carriages, as a ramp will need to be used. Special arrangements will need to be made at Santa’s Workshop as it is not possible for a wheelchair to pass along the train; again, please tell our staff and we’ll do our best to make the journey easy for you.

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?

Dogs are welcome; the only restriction is the buffet carriage, for obvious reasons. Guide dogs are most welcome, and travel free.

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. On the day, payments can be taken by card, including contactless for small payments.

Is your Santa the real thing?

Of course he is! The real Santa comes to see us and only us! He even brings his brother to help!