Most frequent questions and answers

Each ticket includes a THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride; each ticketed passenger is served hot chocolate and a cookie treat by THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Chefs. Santa will board the train at the North Pole, and as we head back to Stearns Depot, Santa will be on board and walk through each car to give out the “first gift of Christmas” — the sleigh bell — to each rider. We will all join in and sing Christmas Carols as we return to the station.

Pricing Information:

  • Premium: $70 1st class/ $55 coach
  • Standard: $60 1st class/ $45 coach
  • Value: $45 1st class/$25 coach

Book Now!

Located on KY Rt. 92 on Henderson Street in beautiful Stearns, Kentucky, Big South Fork Scenic Railway is little over an 2 hours from Lexington, less than two hours from Knoxville, and three hours from either Louisville or Nashville.

View map!

There is FREE parking at the Depot. Parties needing extra assistance will be directed to handicap parking. Those parties that do not need assistance will be directed to the closest available space by the parking attendants. The farthest parking areas are approximately 200 yards from the Depot.

Please be sure to bring umbrellas, ponchos, rain gear, and suitable shoes in case of inclement weather.

The train ride is approximately one hour. Please come approximately 45 minutes before your departure time to pick up tickets. Please note that Big South Fork Scenic Railway operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME. You can shop in our gift shop, Whistlestop Restaurant (located in the depot), as well as color or write a letter to Santa in the Activity Area.

At approximately 20 minutes prior to your departure time, you will line up according to the boarding point listed on your ticket. Children ages two years and under, do not require a ticket and MUST be seated on an adult’s lap while on board the train. Once on board, you will travel to the “North Pole” while we read the story of The Polar Express. THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Chefs will dance through the cars as each ticketed passenger is served hot chocolate and a cookie treat. As the train passes the North Pole, you will catch a glimpse of Santa, who will board the train for the return trip. As you head back to the Depot, Santa will be on board and walk through each car to give out the “first gift of Christmas” — the sleigh bell — to each passenger. We will all join in and sing Christmas Carols as we return to the Depot.

First Class passengers will board their assigned cars and find their upgraded reserved seats. Each ticketed passenger will receive hot chocolate served in a ceramic souvenir mug, and a special cookie. First Class Chefs will be assigned to each coach. Chefs will conveniently escort you to your reserved seats in First Class.

All passengers will be assigned a seat. Our coaches hold between 40 and 54 passengers, depending on the car. The seats are a combination of upholstered bench seats or tables- tables reservations are sold in groups of four , while bench seats hold two people each. All seats will be filled so please do not bring car seats or carriers for children under two, as they will need to be in an adult’s lap. Strollers will looked after at the Depot, and are also not allowed on the train.

Yes. You will receive an email confirmation, or confirmation number for phone reservations. Email addresses will allow us to send the confirmation and any updates about the event. All tickets will be held at the passenger station for pick-up the day of the event.

Tickets are held on a Will Call basis and will not be mailed to you. You will need to arrive 45 minutes before your train ride to pick up your tickets. The Big South Fork Scenic Railway operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME. Have your confirmation email available as your proof of purchase. Tickets may not be picked up in advance. They may only be picked up on the day of your train ride.

All tickets will be held in Will Call, located inside the Stearns Depot. Please note the exact date and time of your tickets when you place the order. Check your confirmation email to insure arriving for the proper date and time. Again, The Big South Fork Scenic Railway operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME.

Unfortunately, special event ticket sales are final. Events are held regardless of weather. Tickets are not refundable due to weather, change in your plans, etc. Polar Express train ride tickets sell out very quickly, so there is very little possibility for re-scheduling. Because of the special nature of the event, the railroad will not honor any discounts, promotions, etc.

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride event will feature a variety of themed merchandise. Cash and credit cards are accepted. Located in the Depot is the Artisan shop with local craft merchandise and the Polar Express Gift shop. 

Food is available at the event site – If you wish to come early or stay later after the ride, there is a restaurant located conveniently at the Depot, serving a variety of great, hot food. We recommend arriving 1.5 hours early, if you plan to eat prior to departure.

Yes, the trains must leave on time to avoid delays to hundreds of passengers. We suggest you arrive approximately 45 minutes prior to your departure time to pick up your tickets. The Big South Fork Scenic Railway operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME. Please check your directions and drive time and allow for weather or traffic delays to avoid disappointment. (Remember, there is a restaurant with excellent food on site if you are delayed and need to feed children.)

No. Passengers stay on the train. Santa boards the train at the “North Pole” and will greet passengers in each car.

If parties wish to sit together, tickets need to be purchased together. All seats are assigned.

Yes! We encourage families to dress in warm pajamas and bring your The Polar Express book for the Conductor to sign if you wish. Be sure to dress warmly enough to walk comfortably to and from your car, and make sure that everyone is wearing appropriate footwear. Some areas of the train station are covered or indoors, and others are open to the elements. The coaches are enclosed and heated for the trip.

There are restrooms aboard the train, but since they’re not in every car, we strongly recommend a trip to the bathroom before departure time, to avoid the need to walk to an adjacent car’s restroom mid-train ride- we’d hate for you to miss any of the fun! Restrooms are available in the Depot. The train ride is one-hour long, so please plan accordingly.

No. Children two and under do not need a ticket. They must be seated on an adult’s lap while on the train. Infants cannot be placed in a carrier or car seat on the train, they must be held. If you must use a child carrier seat, a ticket is required.

Strollers and baby carriers are NOT allowed aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride, due to limited space and narrow aisles aboard the train and the need for staff to move about freely during the trip. Strollers left at the depot are the responsibility of the passenger, but we’ll try to ensure their security as well as we can.

Limited space is available for persons requiring wheelchairs or other assistive devices, however large motorized scooters will not fit aboard the THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train, so please be sure to mention this when purchasing your tickets to the event. If you need any assistance pre-boarding the train, please inform the Reservation Agent when booking your tickets. Please remind us at the ticket window and a staff member will assist with pre-boarding your group.

If you require special accommodation, please notify us in advance of your visit by e-mailing us via the “contact us” page on our home page, or by calling our ticket sales number.

Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate special requests. We will be serving hot chocolate and a cookie. Passengers with allergies may bring their own cookies and hot chocolate. Please communicate with the Chefs on board so that we may serve your treats.

Cookies are produced in facilities that may have handled nuts.

Every person on the train will receive a bell from Santa.

Winter wind, rain, snow or other adverse conditions are possible, and the THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride will operate as scheduled regardless of weather. All seating aboard trains is indoors; no open-air cars are included on the train. Please check weather conditions prior to your visit and dress accordingly. Rides will be cancelled ONLY if a state travel emergency restriction order is issued. Please check the website or Facebook before traveling if severe weather is predicted. Please plan sufficient travel time in case of inclement weather- traffic and weather conditions may double the travel time to the event. Remember, the railroad operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME!
If you have questions please call: 1-606-376-5330

Absolutely! You can read along or just listen as we read the storybook on our train ride to the North Pole. If you have read the book or seen the movie you will feel like you’ve stepped off the pages as we recreate the story with your child as a part of the cast.

As the event is designed for children of all ages, there is no additional charge for adult passengers.

Yes! WiFi is available in the depot and around the loading ramp. The network name is MCHF Free WiFi. Feel free to use our public WiFi to post pictures and videos to social media. Please use the hashtag #StearnsPolarMagic2021 to help us spread the word about The Polar Express Train Ride in Stearns, KY.