Rhode Island Polar Express Train Rides (2023): A Complete Guide

Last revised: August 5, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Despite the state's small size, Rhode Island is home to one of the exclusively licensed "The Polar Express" train rides hosted by the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council in Woonsocket.

Polar Express train rides are an immersive experience that brings the story of Chris Van Allsburg's magical story to life. The trains are decorated to resemble the train from the book, and the conductors and other staff are dressed in period attire. Passengers are encouraged to wear their pajamas, just like the boy in the story, and are treated to hot chocolate, cookies, and other holiday treats.

The holiday trips are a magical experience that brings the beloved Christmas story to life. With beautiful scenery, holiday treats, and the chance to meet Santa Claus, these train rides are a beloved tradition for many families. If you're looking for a unique and memorable way to celebrate the holiday season, consider taking an officially licensed "The Polar Express" train ride.

Other Activities

If you might be interested in other activities for the whole family, Rhode Island is a state that knows how to celebrate Christmas in style. There are plenty of family-friendly events taking place throughout the holiday season, from festivals to light displays to visits with Santa. Here are just a few of the popular Christmas events in Rhode Island that are perfect for families:

Winterfest

(Newport): This festival runs from late November through January and features a wide range of holiday events and activities, including ice skating, visits with Santa, a holiday bazaar, and more. There's also a holiday light display along the waterfront, making for a magical evening stroll.

Christmas at the Newport Mansions

(Newport): If you're looking for something a little more upscale, the Newport Mansions offer a unique Christmas experience. Each mansion is decked out in holiday decor, with special events like live music, holiday workshops, and visits with Santa.

Festival of Lights

(Bristol): This drive-through light display features over 100,000 lights, synchronized to music. Visitors can tune their radios to a specific frequency and enjoy the show from the comfort of their own cars. There's also a Christmas village with vendors and food trucks.

Enchanted Village

(Smithfield): This outdoor holiday display features over 100,000 lights, a giant Christmas tree, and various holiday-themed displays. Visitors can also take a train ride through the park and meet Santa Claus.

Christmas at the Zoo

(Providence): The Roger Williams Park Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, with twinkling lights, carolers, and animal encounters. There's also a holiday marketplace with local vendors and crafts.

The Providence Rink

(Providence): This outdoor ice skating rink is open during the holiday season and offers a festive atmosphere with holiday music, twinkling lights, and hot cocoa. There's also a visit from Santa on select days.

Slater Park Festival of Lights

(Pawtucket): This annual holiday light display features more than one million lights, music, and holiday scenes throughout the park. Visitors can drive through the display or walk through the park and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Christmas at the Newport Art Museum

(Newport): This holiday event features a stunning display of decorated trees throughout the museum, decorated by local artists and designers. There are also holiday-themed workshops, live music, and a visit from Santa Claus.

Roger Williams Park Holiday Lights

(Providence): Another holiday light display, this one takes place at the Roger Williams Park. Visitors can drive or walk through the park to enjoy the festive light displays and holiday music.

These are just a few of the many family-friendly Christmas events taking place throughout Rhode Island. Whether you're looking for a festive light display or a visit with Santa, there's something for everyone to enjoy during the holiday season in the Ocean State.

Overview

Blackstone Valley Tourism Council

(Woonsocket):  As its name suggests, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council aims to market Rhode Island's beautiful and historical Blackstone River Valley. 

It has been doing so for the last 30+ years.  One way it helps promote the region is by hosting official The Polar Express train rides in conjunction with the Providence & Worcester. 


These trips (lasting about 90 minutes) depart from the beautifully restored Providence & Worcester/New York, New Haven & Hartford wooden depot in Woonsocket built in 1882.   Today, this stretch of railroad is operated by the Genesee & Wyoming, the largest operator of short line freight railroads in the nation.

The Polar Express Dates: 

  • November 10 - 12
  • November 17 - 19
  • November 24 - 26
  • December 1 - 3
  • December 8 - 10
  • December 15 - 18
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