Experience the wonder and excitement of Christmas when you board the Polar Express! The whole family can participate in this magical holiday activity at select train stations across America.
Children are encouraged to dress in their pajamas just like the kids in the book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Aboard the train, you’ll hear a reading of that famous book as you enjoy yummy cookies and cups of hot cocoa. You’ll also get to see Santa—who will give each child a special souvenir, a silver bell.
The round-trip ride to the North Pole generally lasts around 60–120 minutes, but varies by train line. See a list of participating railroad stations below. For a comprehensive list of Polar Express train rides, click here. Don’t wait too long to get your tickets, as they sell out quickly.
The vintage train cars of this railway are festooned with holiday decorations, providing a nice backdrop for memorable pictures. As you snuggle into your seat, make sure you have your ticket in hand because the conductor will be coming by to punch your ticket. Oh, and one other thing—don’t be alarmed if you see the Hobo, as he has been known to appear from time to time.
Saratoga Springs Railway Station
26 Station Lane
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
IKEA stores all over the world are hosting several events this holiday season that will put you in the Christmas spirit. As you may know, IKEA was founded in Sweden, and therefore, many of their events are inspired by Swedish traditions. The whole family can enjoy a variety of activities, such as julbord, breakfast with Santa, gingerbread house decorating, and more!
The julbord is an all-you-can-eat Swedish feast that includes traditional dishes like herring, smoked salmon, meatballs with lingonberries, and more. To finish off your delicious dinner, you’ll enjoy some sweets and glögg (mulled wine). In order to nosh at this spectacular smörgåsbord, you will need to purchase your ticket(s) in advance, so contact your local store.
Santa will be making public appearances at several IKEA stores this year! Children of all ages can meet Santa and even take a photo with him, so be sure to bring your camera. In some stores, Santa will be in the restaurant, so you and your children can even sit and eat breakfast with him.
Try your hand at piping icing and adorning a gingerbread house with candies at IKEA’s gingerbread decorating contest. If you win the prize for the best decorated house, you can brag to your family and friends!
One of the other events that you may be able to attend is the St. Lucia procession—a Swedish Christmas tradition where Lucia leads a procession of lights as Swedish Christmas carols are sung.
Please note that events vary from store to store, so you’ll want to check your local store for a list of events. Click here to find a store in the USA or here to find an international store.
St. Lucia Celebration
Saturday, 13 December: 9:30am
Again, this is not a complete list of events at IKEA stores. To find events and activities at the store nearest you, check online. Click here to find a store in the USA or here to find an international store.
Over the next couple of weekends, some Anthropologie stores across the USA and Canada are hosting holiday craft events for children. Recommended for ages 5–8, kids will be able to create some fun crafts while mom and dad sneak in a little shopping. You can visit Anthropologie’s website to see if your local store is hosting this event, and if you plan to attend, make sure to call the store to RSVP.
Looking for a holiday activity to do with your family and friends? Attend a Christmas tree lighting! Many cities host an annual tree lighting ceremony that is accompanied by several other festive attractions. Check out one (or more) of these events and treat your family to some holiday fun. (Psst… You might even spot Santa while you’re there!)
Watch the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree light up the streets of New York City tomorrow, December 3rd. If you are unable to be there in person, you can watch this momentous occasion on television on NBC.
Fun Facts: The tree is a Norway spruce, stands 85 feet tall, is 90 years old, and weighs 13 tons.
The tree will be lit at 6pm on Thursday, December 4th. If you can’t make it to the lighting ceremony, perhaps you can attend the blessing of the crib on December 7th at 5:30pm or enjoy the sound of carolers from December 8th through the 23rd.
Fun Fact: Since 1947, the Trafalgar Square tree has been donated by the city of Oslo, Norway as gesture of gratitude for Britain’s help in World War II.
If you’re near Tampa, be sure to attend the tree lighting ceremony on Friday, December 5th at 6pm. The event is free to attend, and there will be musical performances, a movie in the park, a Christmas market, and even ice skating!
The folks of Houston, Texas are kicking off the holiday season with fun festivities on Friday, December 5th. There will be music, fireworks, free photos with Santa, and the illumination of the city’s Christmas tree.
On December 3rd at 8pm, you can watch the 21st annual lighting of the Christmas tree at The Queen Mary—a floating hotel in Long Beach. There will be plenty of other festive activities for the family, such as ice skating, a magic show, performances by a local choir and accomplished figure skaters, and more!
At the American Museum of Natural History, their Origami Holiday Tree has been an annual tradition for more than 40 years. The tree is a whopping 13 feet tall and displays more than 800 origami ornaments—each one folded by hand! Origami artists from all over the world assist in making the plethora of paper models for the tree. The theme for this year’s tree is Origami Night at the Museum, inspired by the film Night at the Museum.
The 2014 Origami Holiday Tree will be on display from November 24, 2014 through January 11, 2015.
Here are some images from 2013’s holiday tree. The theme for 2013 was Wicked, Wild and Wonderful and was inspired by The Power of Poison exhibit at the museum.