North Pole Express

First 2 weekends in December

Children and trains go together during the Holiday Season like colorful lights, brightly iced cookies, festively wrapped gifts, family and friends. Please join the nonprofit Friends of the 261 annual journey on the North Pole Express.

The North Pole Express is our group’s largest yearly fundraiser enabling us to continue to operate and maintain the stars of the show, the Milwaukee Road #261 steam locomotive, built in 1944, operating the first weekend. Followed by Milwaukee Road #32A, an E9 diesel built in 1956, operating the second weekend. Experience a ride in one of our of historic rail cars pulled by these classic center pieces of engineering.

Our show is brought to you by our excited ALL volunteer crew, Santa and his elves that promises to make this a memorable Holiday Tradition.

Climb aboard this holiday train from the past that includes the North Pole and a visit from Santa himself! Avoid the trouble of setting up your old train set around the tree this year and let us provide you with a REAL steam train for the holidays.

Operating the first weekend in December

Operating the second weekend in December

Coach Class

  • Carhost service and entertainment
  • Visit from Santa
  • Ride to North Pole in vintage railcar
  • Holiday treat

First Class

  • Exclusive seating in vintage lounge railcar
  • Priority boarding
  • Visit from Santa
  • Ride to North Pole
  • Holiday Gift Bag

Coach Class

  • Carhost service and entertainment
  • Visit from Santa
  • Ride to North Pole in vintage railcar
  • Holiday treat

First Class

  • Exclusive seating in vintage lounge railcar
  • Priority boarding
  • Visit from Santa
  • Ride to North Pole
  • Holiday Gift Bag

Your ticket to the North Pole Express includes:

❆ A short train ride to the North Pole at the east end of the St Paul Union Depot property.
❆ Along the way, write your letter to Santa.
❆ At the North Pole, Santa will greet the train and board the North Pole Express for the ride back to the St Paul Union Depot, passengers will remain on the train.
❆ Santa will walk through the train greeting all the children and collecting your letter!
❆ At the end of the train ride, head into St Paul Union Depot, where children can enjoy a holiday treat brought to you by BNSF Railway.
❆ There will be other children’s activities inside the St Paul Union Depot as well.
❆ Dress for the weather, all cars will get the same experience.

Upgrade to First Class on North Pole Express:

❆ Priority boarding ❆ Christmas treat on the train ❆ More time with Santa ❆ Keepsake souvenir

First class seating is limited.

Arriving at North Pole Express

Please allow plenty of time to travel, park and walk to the Ticket Check in counter in St Paul Union Depot.  There are many one-way and limited-access streets around St Paul Union Depot.  Once you arrive at St Paul Union Depot plan on walking – the majestic building covers several city blocks!  Take time to explore the art and history inside the building.

Detailed instructions may be found here to assist in locating the St Paul Union Depot Entrance and parking.

European Christmas Market

European Christmas Market looks a little different this year, but is just as exciting as ever.

Hub for the Holidays

Follow us on:

North Pole Express email list!


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Will the 261 be pulling the train?

Yes, the 261 Will be pulling the North Pole Express December 1-3, 2023

When Does the North Pole Express run?

The North Pole Express runs December 1-3 & 7-10, 2023

Thursdays & Fridays 1:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Saturdays 10:00 am to 7:30 pm

Sundays 10:00 am to 4:30 pm

How long is the North Pole Express?

The North Pole Express is a 1 and a half hour long experiance with about a 1 hour train ride to the North Pole included in that time.

Boarding and check in times?

Check in will begin 1 hour befor each train time, boarding will begin 15 minutes prior to departure. Like air lines, gates close 5 minutes prior to departure.

Do I need a mask?

Currently, a mask recommanded but is not required. If things should change we will notify ticketed passengers via email.

Do I need a ticket for my newborn/infant/child?

Yes, all passengers, young and old need a ticket. This way we are able to make sure we provide enough treats for everyone.

Where do I get my tickets?

All passengers must check in at the ticket counter located in the Concourse directly above the Kellogg Blvd entry

Can I bring a stroller?

Yes, there will be a safe secure place to park you stroller while on the North Pole Express

I lost my confirmation email!?

Send us an email with your Full name, current email, date of your train ride and we will send you another confirmation email. Email us.

Is the North Pole Express ADA accessible?

The North Pole Express does have limited ADA accessibility. Please notify us of the train time you are riding and we will make sure to assist you as best we are able. Contact us.

I need to change what day we are riding the North Pole Express?

If the day, time and/or class you are requesting to move your tickets to is available, there is a $15 service fee for exchanging tickets to another day or class (plus differance in face value if upgrading). Once paid we will send you a new confirmation email, paying the service fee does not guarantee the day, time and/or class requested. Please Contact us if you are looking to change your North Pole Express date.

Can my group sit together on the North Pole Express?

Seating is first come first serve, however, we ask that groups that want to sit together, gather prior to checking in for their trip. Once all together, check in as one group, this will help our volunteers seat your group as one.