Hop aboard for a fun and festive railroad excursion with Santa, Mrs. Claus and a whole bunch of little elves. For one day only (Dec. 13), you and the kids are invited to join thousands of other DMV-ers for The Santa Train, one of the metro region’s most popular holiday events and part of the VRE’s Operation Lifesaver campaign to promote train safety.

vre-santa-trainPhoto: Virginia Railyway Express via Facebook

A Jolly Good Time
Take a seat and prepare to be awed. Santa’s helpers will walk through the train cars handing out candy canes and coloring books, while high school choral groups sing holiday tunes. Then here comes a very jolly Santa and Mrs. Claus, ready to pose for your camera. There is no time for your little ones to sit on Santa’s lap and list all the treasures they hope to see under the tree, but don’t worry, Santa definitely aims to please and the kids love being part of such festive fun. Don’t forget that the purpose of the Santa Train is to promote train safety, so if you’ve got a couple of train lovers on your hands, point out the lessons promoted in the coloring books Santa’s helpers are handing out. The Operation Lifesaver campaign also works in conjunction with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program so be sure to bring a toy for a child in need and drop it off at the station before you board.

vre-train-stationPhoto: Virginia Railyway Express via Facebook

Next Stop…
Trains depart from Fredericksburg, Manassas, Burke Center and Woodbridge Stations. All trains head north up past Quantico and then turn around. The entire ride is about 45 minutes long. While you’re waiting for Santa and his elves to come to your train car, enjoy Virginia’s stunning countryside from the train’s windows, ripe with old farmhouses and barns.

vre-train-station-2Photo: Virginia Railyway Express via Facebook

Inside Scoop
Tickets for this extremely popular event go on sale at 9 am Nov. 24. You can buy them at outlets or online. Tickets are $5 at outlets and $6 online, with net proceeds benefiting Operation Lifesaver. When we say this is an extremely popular event, we mean it. Online tickets sell out almost instantly (last year, all 7,500 tickets sold out in 12 minutes!
) so unless you’re a computer wizard, the best way to guarantee tickets is to stand in line at the Fredericksburg Visitor’s Center. Wear your hat, scarf and gloves and get there before 9 am to secure a spot. Prepare to pay cash (or check), because credit cards are not accepted. Everyone needs a ticket to board the train (parents and tots), and your purchase is limited to six tickets.

the-bavarian-chefPhoto: The Bavarian Chef via Facebook

Feeling Peckish?
There is no food on the train (other than candy canes), but you are welcome to bring snacks on board. If you’re picking the train up in Fredericksburg the station is right downtown and surrounded by shops and cafes. You can finish the ride with a tasty lunch of German fare at The Bavarian Chef, a popular restaurant connected to the train station, or walk a few blocks to the Soup & Taco or Sammy T’s, both kid-friendly cafes.

Virginia Railway Express Santa Train
When: Dec. 13
Burke Center, Manassas, Woodbridge and Fredericksburg Stations
Online: vre.org

Have you taken a ride on VRE’s Santa Train? Share any insider secrets in the Comments section below. 

—Jamy Bond