Last revised: August 4, 2023
By: Adam Burns
The officially licensed "Polar Express" train rides are usually the best known holiday excursions, and typically sell out quite fast. However, many heritage railroads and museums have foregone the great expense of hosting that event to offer their own Christmas-themed train ride.
In West Virginia, the Potomac Eagle Scenic in Romney offers their own "North Pole Express." This excursion has grown in popularity over the years and witnesses a great many visitors every year! In addition, the Cass Scenic Railroad now hosts holiday-themed rides as well. More information about the event may be found further below.
West Virginia is a beautiful state that offers a wide range of exciting Christmas events for visitors and locals alike. Whether you're looking for outdoor activities, holiday-themed attractions, or festive markets, you'll find something to suit your taste in the Mountain State. In this article, we'll highlight some of the most popular Christmas events available in West Virginia.
Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center
(Wheeling): One of the most popular Christmas events in West Virginia is the Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center. This spectacular light display features over 300 acres of twinkling lights, including a 300-foot-long tunnel of lights and a 40-foot Christmas tree. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including a wagon ride through the lights, a live nativity scene, and holiday-themed shops.
Christmas in Shepherdstown
(Shepherdstown): The charming town of Shepherdstown comes alive during the holiday season, with a variety of events and activities for visitors of all ages. The town's annual Christmas parade features floats, marching bands, and Santa Claus himself, while the "Christmas in Shepherdstown" festival offers craft vendors, live music, and a tree lighting ceremony. Visitors can also enjoy ice skating, carriage rides, and tours of the historic town.
Holiday of Lights at the State Capitol Complex
(Charleston): The West Virginia State Capitol Complex in Charleston is transformed into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, with thousands of twinkling lights and festive decorations. Visitors can enjoy a free trolley ride through the display, as well as a variety of other activities, including visits with Santa, live music, and craft vendors.
Christmas Craft Show in Parkersburg
(Parkersburg): The annual Christmas Craft Show in Parkersburg is one of the largest holiday shopping events in West Virginia, featuring over 200 vendors selling handmade crafts and gifts. Visitors can also enjoy live music, food vendors, and a variety of activities for children, including a visit from Santa Claus.
Parkersburg's Holiday in the Park
(Parkersburg): Parkersburg's Holiday in the Park is a must-see attraction during the Christmas season. This festive event features a stunning light display, with over 500,000 lights illuminating the park's walking trails. Visitors can also enjoy holiday-themed train rides, pictures with Santa, and more.
Holiday Of Lights, Bluefield
(Bluefield): The Christmas Fantasy Light Show in Bluefield features over one million lights illuminating the park's walkways, bridges, and trees. Visitors can drive through the display or take a walk along the path to experience the magic of the holiday season. The show also includes an animated light tunnel and a live nativity scene.
Village Of Lights
(Barboursville): The Village of Lights display in Barboursville is a unique way to experience the magic of the holiday season. The show features over 10,000 lights synchronized to holiday music. Visitors can enjoy the display from their car or take a walk around the property to experience the magic of the season.
In conclusion, West Virginia offers a wide range of exciting Christmas events for visitors of all ages, from spectacular light displays to charming holiday festivals. Whether you're looking for outdoor activities, shopping, or cultural events, you'll find something to enjoy in the Mountain State during the holiday season.
(Romney): The Potomac Eagle Scenic is one of West Virginia's best kept secrets and has continued to add increasingly more excursions, and improved accommodations/cars since began running in 1991. The railroad operates over the former Baltimore & Ohio's "Petersburg Branch," which runs 53 miles from Green Spring to Petersburg.
The line winds its way along the South Branch of the Potomac River as it passes through small communities such as Romney and Moorefield before terminating in Petersburg.
Among their many special events and train rides offered throughout the year is the "North Pole Express" which runs during the holiday season. The Potomac Eagle Scenic is somewhat unique in providing passengers the option of enjoying this experience via two different classes of service; either first class or standard coach.
The "North Pole Express" is a 1-hour, 15-minute train ride from the Romney station. The station, itself, provides guests the chance to partake in several activities which includes an event barn, letters to Santa Claus, coloring stations, photo opportunities, a nativity with live farm animals, and even hot cocoa and snacks.
During the train ride guests will enjoy a Christmas story, enjoy mile and cookies, and even visit Santa himself. All the children will also receive a small gift during the trip. Their 2023 rides are on the following dates:
The Cass Scenic Railroad is one of West Virginia's most popular tourist attractions operating several historic geared steam locomotives, most notably Shays.
The railroad was originally part of West Virginia Pulp & Paper's (later Mower Lumber Company) massive timber operations centered within the small community of Cass, West Virginia, situated deep within the Appalachian Mountains.
In 2023, the historic railroad will host "Christmas At Cass." As the railroad states this event:
"The steam powered journey will depart the Cass depot and travel along the scenic Greenbrier River. This excursion will last approximately 75 to 90 minutes and feature decorated & heated coaches. Limited seating will also be available inside our historic Chesapeake & Ohio caboose at the rear of the train!
Each child will receive a special surprise gift during the ride, which is included in the ticket price.
The Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and Friends of Cass will be offering a variety of activities and events during the weekends as well. A full schedule of events will be announced at a later date."