It’s that time of the year when the little ones get very excited about meeting the big man in red, so this year we decided to make a trip out of it! Rather than visiting Father Christmas at his Grotto, (although we also did that). We decided to take the boys on the Santa Special train ride at Kent and East Sussex Railway (KESR). Who doesn’t like a good ‘ol steam train ride in the countryside eh? Throw in some Christmas magic and what a brilliant day out this turned out to be.
Like all Santa and Father Christmas visits, these get booked out pretty quickly. So make sure you book well in advance and for a stress free magical time. Your booking reference will land in your email inbox along with further information for travel and the things you need to know before your visit. Such as:
- 3.5 hours Free Parking: Limited availability at Tenterden Town Station, although we did find there was plenty. There is additional Pay and Display car parks nearby, so arrive early to avoid the rush.
- Collect your tickets at the booking office when you arrive. During our visit, we also received a free photo voucher and a form to write down our children’s name and what they would like to receive from Father Christmas. Of course they aren’t going to get what they write down! This is merely for Father Christmas to see their name, gender and age. They then will receive an age appropriate gift.
- The Santa Special gets really busy, so make sure you arrive well in time for your booked departure. They say they will try and fit you into any subsequent trains available if you miss your one, but there is no guarantee that the next ones aren’t fully booked as well. Try to arrive 30+ minutes before departure. There are a few Christmas stalls and restaurant on site for you to browse and have some light lunch before you board.
The Santa Special Ride
We started our journey at Tenterden station and set off to Northiam Station and back. The entire journey lasted just over an hour. Father Christmas and his little elves boarded the train with gifts and as there are a lot of children (and adults) to go through, we made sure we had our camera’s ready to capture this magical moment. Father Christmas and the elves were extremely nice and friendly. It was a shame we didn’t get to meet Mother Christmas though. I have to say that this Father Christmas looked brilliant in his outfit and it was magical seeing the boys face light up and get all giddy when he approached us.
As the group gradually made their way through the carriages, spending time talking with each children. #JasperBean couldn’t contain his excitement and it really left us all in high spirits for the rest of the day. During our ride, me and S received a complimentary mince pie and choice of alcoholic or non alcoholic beverage. The boys received a chocolate bar and carton of fruit juice as well. On the way back, a guy dressed in a Christmas suit went through each booth performing some magic tricks for the children and it was really nice to see them enjoying themselves.
The station/event is run by mainly helpers and although it felt like we were stepping back to bygone days, it really was much welcomed. The staff there were ace! We couldn’t fault their service or enthusiasm. The pace of the whole experience was perfect as we didn’t feel hurried like most Santa Grotto visits. We felt like we had the whole day to experience it even though we had limited time on the train. The train was decorated nicely with some tinsel and most importantly clean. Even the toilet was spacious and had baby changing facilities.
This experience really suits all age groups. I would recommend it in a heartbeat.
Have you been on the KESR Santa Special or any of their other events? We would love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading and until next time we wish you and your family/friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Love, MsMamaBean x