East Lancashire Railway: Santa Special offers a magical festive journey for all the family

A magical Christmas experience has steamed its way into the North-West.

East Lancashire Railway took my son, dad and I on a festive journey through the Irwell Valley last weekend, when we experienced a new and improved Santa Special and boarded a real heritage steam train at Bury Bolton Street.

It was the perfect family trip for my vehicle-mad toddler, who was fascinated by the steam train and hard to prise away from a model electric Thomas the Tank Engine on display.

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We began by meandering through a Winter Wonderland with fantastic seasonal scenes that put smiles on our faces and kicked off the festivities in style.

East Lancashire Railway Santa Special 2022.

Throughout, we were greeted by cheerful characters, including traditional favourites like the Elves and Mrs Claus, plus fun additions like an Ice Princess, singing polar bears and a talking Christmas tree. They waved us off in style as the train left the station, making us feel like VIPs.

But the ultimate VIP was Santa Claus, who met us on board and posed for pictures. It made for some treasured photos in our family album, and my son loved the beautiful gift he received.

As we made our way to Rawtenstall Station on an 80-minute round trip, the surprises kept coming. Elves filled the carriages with cheer while a Christmas poet entertained travellers with a fun rhyming game. We also enjoyed a sing-along of merry songs led by an old brass band.

The adult goodies - an alcoholic drink and mince pie - went down a treat for my dad and I. Meanwhile, my two-year-old enjoyed a chocolate bar and golden coins, and scribbled happily away in the brand-new activity books provided in his treat bag.

East Lancashire Railway Santa Special 2022.

It’s clear East Lancashire Railway has worked hard to make this year’s event bigger and better than ever with its upgraded Winter Wonderland, the return of its brass band, and extra time to chat and pose for a selfie with Santa.

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The event was a brilliant way to kick off the season with my family. And while I never thought it was possible, my son has fallen even more in love with vehicles than ever before. What more could I ask for this Christmas than the excitement on his face as he saw the sheer impressiveness of a steam train?

East Lancashire Railway Santa Special 2022.
East Lancashire Railway Santa Special 2022.
East Lancashire Railway Santa Special 2022.
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East Lancashire Railway Santa Special 2022.