Something magical happens when trains couple with Christmas. Be it a model electric train circling the base of a Christmas tree firing up a child’s imagination or a genuine old-fashioned steam or diesel engine chugging through a winter’s night to real holiday delights, trains add to the nostalgia and memories of the holidays like no other form of mass transportation. And for the masses of Hoosiers looking for some railroad whimsy, there come opportunities both large and small.
Experience the tradition of Jingle Rails
Hoosiers can travel vicariously through the West aboard Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure which continues its annual run through Jan. 16, 2023, at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in downtown Indianapolis.
Jingle Rails is a G-scale model train wonderland containing nine working model trains that wind through a stunning miniature landscape, creatively built out of all-natural materials and decorated with holiday lighting. The exhibit features miniature versions of local treasures of Indianapolis, including the Eiteljorg Museum, Monument Circle and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The trains then head through the national parks of the American West, passing legendary sites including grand railway lodges, Northwest Coast Native villages, and wonders both natural and human-made.
Over nearly 1,200 feet of track, the trains whistle and chug past Old Faithful geyser which actually erupts, Mount Rushmore, the Hoover Dam, and much more.
Now in its 13th year, Jingle Rails is included with regular museum admission. Members are free. Children ages 4 and under have free admission. For non-member advance sale tickets, visit Eiteljorg.org/JingleRails.
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride in French Lick is a re-creation of the classic children’s story on board a real train. During the interactive 70-minute long experience, passengers are served hot chocolate and a treat by dancing chefs, enjoy a reading of the book by Chris Van Allsburg, and receive the first gift of Christmas (a silver sleigh bell) after Santa boards the train to greet families. Elves lead passengers in caroling and fun holiday activities on the return trip to French Lick.
Each coach is dressed in festive holiday décor and features color-changing lighting synched with the activities on board. Families are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride!
Unfortunately for this year, as every year, all tickets are sold out by December. But now is the time to be thinking of the 2023 ride. Public sale for the 2023 season will begin Jan. 10, 2023, at 9 a.m. First class and dome class tickets sell out quickly. So, make plans and purchase your tickets in January. The rest of the seats generally are sold out by November when the Express starts running.
The 2023 schedule begins Nov. 3 and continues until Dec. 23. For more details and to order your 2023 advance tickets, visit FrenchLickThePolarExpressRide.com.