North Yorks Moors Railway – Santa Specials 2023 Review

**Tickets were provided free of charge for the purpose of this review however, all opinions are my own**

We’re huge fans of the North Yorks Moor railway, having most recently visited in October for the Light Spectacular event so when we heard they were running Santa Specials, we were very keen to see what was on offer.

What they say –

This festive season, NYMR are running Santa Specials from both Pickering and Grosmont stations. Visitors can join Santa and his team for elves on the Santa Express for a magical ride through the North Yorkshire countryside. Santa will make his way through the carriages during the journey, giving each child the chance to see and speak to him. Each child will also receive a soft toy gift from him.

We decided on Grosmont as our departure station for our visit. Every other NYMR journey we’ve had, has been from Pickering so we were keep to check out another station and we were very pleased we did as it’s a beautiful little station.

The Santa Special days at Pickering and Grosmont are 25th, 26th November and December 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th, 23rd, and 24th with departures from Pickering at 09:55, 11:25, 13:00, or 14:55 and departures from Grosmont at 10:00, 11:30, 13:05, or 15:00.

We opted for the 11.30 departure from Grosmont and the time was perfect for us. It wasn’t very busy during our visit but I imagine the closer it gets to Christmas, the busier the journeys.

Parking is available at Grosmont station but it was very busy when we arrived. The car park is used by both the NYMR and next door Northern Rail so fills up quickly. We managed to grab a spot but by the time we’ve got out of the car, the other remaining spaces were full. There was a parking charge of £5 which can be paid for at the machines (although they were broken during our visit) or at the station itself, the ticket you are given then needs to be displayed in your vehicle. There is another car park a short distance down the road if you aren’t able to park in the one adjacent to the station. I would advise arriving about half an hour earlier than your departure time so you’ve got enough time to get parked and grab a cuppa before getting on the train.

We were greeted at the entrance to the station by a very friendly and helpful young man. He gave the kids their tickets, some concise directions and some information about the train times. To be honest, the helpful and friendly staff were constant throughout our visit. We were really impressed by how nice everyone was, they all happily chatted to us and had a smile on their faces.

Grosmont Station is accessible and offers free disabled parking, free entry for carers, wheelchairs that can be used and accessible toilet facilities. You can read more about what’s available here. There were also clean toilets available with plenty of toilet roll!

As we’d arrived early, it gave time to grab a hot drink from the well stocked cafe. The cafe had seating inside and a marquee had been set up behind with lots of additional tables.

There was also a lovely festive scene which was great to take photographs in front of.

We felt the prices in the cafe were quite expensive, we paid just under £18 for three hot drinks and 2 cakes (a gingerbread biscuit and a millionaires short bread). We had taken some other snacks to eat on the train but saw some other visitors with flasks and full sized picnics.

It didn’t take long for the train to come chugging into the station. We were able to take some photographs before boarding, while the staff made sure the train was clean from the previous journey.

We were in carriage B. The train was nice and clean and the seats were comfortable enough for our journey. Our carriage was quite full but it certainly didn’t feel cramped. It was nice having pre booked seats so there was no race to find ‘the best seats’.

It wasn’t long before we were on the move. The train chugged along through the Yorkshire countryside. It was a bit chilly to start with on the train so we were thankful for our coats. During the journey we all started to warm up and the kids were quick to take off their coats.

During the journey a variety of elves came through the train, each one stopping to speak with us. They were all very friendly and their outfits looked very authentic. They spent plenty of time with each family and we certainly felt like we got plenty of attention. My youngest was a bit obsessed with the young female elf and has talked about her none stop since we came home.

Mrs Claus also came through the carriage a few times, each time stopping to chat or ask the kids questions and telling them Santa would be arriving soon.

There was festive music playing throughout the journey and our carriage had a very cheery atmosphere with lots of smiling, excited little people.

The train had just started off on its return journey to Grosmont when Santa reached our carriage. Although he wasn’t perhaps the most authentic Santa we’ve seen ( he didn’t have a real beard) he was very friendly and interacted brilliantly with the kids.

He sat down at our table for a chat, which didn’t feel rushed at all. He chatted about what gifts they’d like for Christmas and gave them each then given a NYMR branded drawstring rucksack with a bag of soft toy stuffing, a passport and a unstuffed Hedgehog teddy.

The elves also gave each child a red satin heart which they were encouraged to kiss and then put inside their soft toy before filling it up with the stuffing and sealing it.

I was really impressed with the size and quality of the soft toy gift they received. I knew the gift was a soft toy but I didn’t expect it to be such a nice one.

The return journey to Grosmont Station was filled with elves and silly songs and dancing and stamping the passports that the children had just been given. Everyone around us seemed to be having fun.

The journey was just over an hour in total and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It was definitely our favourite train related Santa visit and one we will definitely repeat.  I’m really surprised to see that there are still tickets available for both stations on all of the dates, I honestly would have thought it would have been sold out.

Both adult and child tickets cost £30 each which I think is about average for a Christmas experience of this length. Each child receives a Christmas themed soft toy and a reusable back pack too. Children under 12 months can attend without a ticket but they won’t receive the NYMR gift but you’re able to bring your own for Santa to distribute.

After we departed the train, the boys were keen to pick up a keepsake from the shop in the station. There were lots of different things for varying budgets.

After we’d finished our trip on the train, we decided to explore the area around the station. There are a couple of little shops, one of which sells model trains and cars. My boys were in their element.

There are also plenty of walks around the area, one of which is the 3.5-mile Rail Trail which runs up Stephenson’s original railway line from Grosmont, via Beck Hole, to Goathland.

We were able to explore the train yard but the buildings were closed during our visit. Grosmont seems like a lovely little village and somewhere we’d love to explore further.


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