Santa To Bring Reality Back To Downpatrick Railway

Lapland Express Returns To County Down just in time for Christmas

Lapland Express Returns To County Down just in time for Christmas

For the past two Christmases and the past two years, County Down Railway has been closed to the public due to the pandemic.

Steam was chuffing through the County Down countryside this Sunday past, as the Downpatrick & County Down Railway carried out the first steam train runs on the heritage railway since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

There will be three Lapland express days at the Downpatrick railway coming up to Christmas. Included with Mr and Mrs Claus are Owen and Rory Casement from Saul. (Photos courtesy of DCDR).

After a break of nearly two years due to the Coronavirus pandemic, tickets are now available to buy online for the Lapland Express, which is arriving this Christmas at the Downpatrick and County Down Railway for three weekends only.

Railway chairman Robert Gardiner said: “We’re Back! It’s been a lot of hard work, as not only did we have to ensure the line was in a fit state to run – but also to re-certify all our volunteers to run the trains as it’s been such a long gap since we last ran a public train.

Mr and Mrs Claus load up the presents for the Lapland Express.

“Standing on the platform seeing the steam train come into the station was slightly surreal, very familiar but yet something I hadn’t seen in so long – it was fantastic to see the place back in life as all the checks and examines were conducted on both train and staff – we’re ready to welcome Santa back.”

Robert Gardiner revealed Santa’s itinerary and said: “You will be joining Santa to travel in style on board his own steam train – the Lapland Express. Although the details of the trip are a tightly guarded secrets looked after by the Elf & Safety Executive, it does promise to be a festival of fun on board Santa’s steam train.

Steam is back to the Downpatrick railway just in time for Christmas.

“Santa will invite everyone to join him on board the Lapland Express, where on the journey to Inch Abbey and back, families will get the chance to speak one-to-one with Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas. There will be entertainment on the way and Santa will have his naughty-or-nice detector to make sure only the good children get presents.”

The steam train will be leaving the railway station on the following weekends, 4th & 5th December, 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th.  

Tickets are selling quickly already online – and cost £15.00 for adults, £20 (including present) children.  This includes a present from Santa, as well as the train fare, and the trip will include entertainment such as an interactive magic display and fun and games, and a treat and drink for everyone.

Log on to: 

to choose your train and purchase your ticket, as well as check out the DCDR’s Covid requirements – but you better get your snow shoes on as they are selling out quickly!  For those without online access, or if you want to use your Spend Local NI voucher, bookings can be taken by calling 028 4461 5779 on weekdays between 10am and 1pm.

Mr Gardiner added that everyone should come well wrapped up. “Don’t forget, this is an outdoor event so both parents and children should wear appropriate warm clothing, especially as all windows on board the carriages will be kept open to increase ventilation.”

Mr and Mrs Claus chat to a couple of young fans on the platform at Downpatrick railway station.

For further information on events – or if you are thinking about joining as a volunteer – log on to the railway’s website at: 

or find them on facebook at: 

and follow on twitter@downrail