'Best hot chocolate for miles' - Why the Polar Express train is this year's must-do Christmas experience
PUBLISHED: 10:58 16 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:26 17 November 2019
What do you get when you mix some festive cheer, a Christmas sing-a-long, 12,500 cookies, dancing in the aisles and half a tonne of the best hot chocolate for miles? Why, the Polar Express train ride of course!
It's been one of the biggest success stories for the Mid-Norfolk Railway since the event launched there in 2017.
Gaining national recognition, it was recently listed as third best in the UK when it appeared in an article in The Telegraph featuring the nation's best festive events for families. And it's easy to see why.
Based on the 2004 Oscar-nominated animation, The Polar Express follows a doubting young boy who takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole. He embarks on a journey of courage, friendship and self-discovery and reaffirms his faith in the existence of Father Christmas.
Just like in the film, me and my eldest two children rocked up at the station sporting our best pyjamas and dressing gowns. The staff were absolutely delightful and praised my six-year-old's choice of Transformer pjs, while my five-year-old looked just the part in his elf onesie.
As we strolled along the steam-filled platform in Dereham there was a lot of excitement finding our designated carriage, each aptly named after a certain group of special reindeer.
From a pre-ride show to the train ride itself, the actors were first rate and gave a faultless performance. They had fun with my boys, causing many giggles and mischievous conversations, truly bringing the whole experience to life. Not a dull moment in sight!
The highlight for me was watching my boys enjoying sipping on their delicious warm drinks and chomping down on giant chocolate chip cookies (gluten free version available) which are made especially for the occasion each year.
And although the hot chocolate was pretty much the most delicious we've ever had (to quote the conductor "as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars"), by far the biggest screams from the passengers came when we arrived at the North Pole and were greeted to a visit from the big man himself.
As we received our little silver bells from Father Christmas, which can only be heard by those who truly believe, it reaffirmed something special in all of us; Young or old, you are never too much of a Grinch to enjoy the Polar Express.
- The Polar Express train ride runs until Sunday December 29. There are limited seats remaining and tickets can be purchased online here .