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  • Writer's pictureCT Parent Magazine

Holiday Magic on the North Pole Express!

The North Pole Express at the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat offers, kids and parents alike, a magical journey that fills every passenger with Christmas joy and excitement for the holiday season. I recently had the opportunity to experience this ever-popular holiday tradition with my family, including my two young daughters (ages 4 and 2).

The excitement started even before we pulled into the parking lot, seeing the steam train, all decorated with lights and garland from the road. The station was beautifully decorated from top to bottom and the parking lot was even full of holiday cheer as eager families hurried to the station in their matching pajamas and beautiful Christmas outfits.

As we made the trip to Essex straight from work, we needed to fill some hungry bellies. Thankfully, the Trackside Cafe at the station offered delicious macaroni and cheese for our little ones, as well as giant, delicious chocolate chip cookies big enough to share with the whole family. The cafe area was also turned into a winter wonderland that provided many perfect backdrops for holiday photos.

When it was finally time to board our first-class car, we were greeted by the friendly conductor who helped us aboard and introduced us to our car's special attendant, Sammy Snowflake! Throughout the 90-minute train ride, Sammy Snowflake entertained the entire car with a performance that lasted the entire train ride. He got everyone settled and informed about the journey we were about to embark on to the North Pole and dazzled everyone with his singing and dancing. He quickly learned all of the children passengers' names and kept everyone involved in the action. I was not surprised to hear that this was his 10th year in a row as a performer with the North Pole Express, as I couldn't imagine anyone doing a better job in the role of Sammy Snowflake.

As the train pulled back into the station, none of us wanted the Christmas joy to end, but alas, we had to depart as the North Pole Express had to keep running throughout the evening for more passengers looking for the perfect start to their holiday season. We'll definitely be returning next year!

The North Pole Express is one of the most popular holiday attractions in Connecticut and tickets sell-out quickly for the first-class cars, but coach tickets are still available for select evenings through the end of the holiday season through the Essex Steam Train website at If you'd like to plan to attend next year, tickets go on-sale for the holiday season in September.


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