Father Christmas comes and visits us on the South Devon Railway every year and he, and all his singing elves, will be back to see us again this December!

You can book now online, or via phone on 01364 644 370.

Dates and Times

Santa-by-Steam operates on the following dates in December:

Saturday 1 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Sunday 2 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Saturday 8 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Sunday 9 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Saturday 15 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Sunday 16 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Tuesday 18 December   12.00 2.00 3.45 5.45
Wednesday 19 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Thursday 20 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Friday 21 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Saturday 22 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Sunday 23 December 10.15 12.00 2.00 3.45  
Monday 24 December 10.15 12.00      

We are delighted to announce that on 18 December, following many requests from passengers, there will be an additional special evening train, which boards at 5.45pm, for those who would like to experience the magic of travelling by steam train in the dark!

Please note these are the boarding times of the trains, and the train leaves as soon as everyone has boarded. Entertainment at Buckfastleigh starts BEFORE these times. (Please note that unfortunately we are unable to hold any trains for passengers who arrive later than the boarding time.)


All Santa-by-Steam experiences start and finish at Buckfastleigh, where there is a large free car park, cafe, gift shop and toilets.

The location of our entertainment marquee in 2017 received a mixed reception – so this year we are placing it by the field area at Buckfastleigh. The front of the beautiful Buckfastleigh station will be open, decorated and visible to enjoy.

The marquee is heated and floored, and there will be entertainment in the marquee and surrounding area by the station starting one hour before each of the boarding times above which everyone is welcome to join in (so starting at 9.15, 11.00, 1.00 and 2.45). However, we understand that some children don’t wish to join the entertainment, this is no problem, and if this is the case please just arrive shortly before your boarding time.

All families are requested to check in at the check-in desk using their booking confirmation, at which point a boarding card with a reserved table number will be issued.

The Train

The train, which has been decorated with brand-new high-quality decorations, leaves from Buckfastleigh as soon as everyone has boarded.

Once the train has departed, refreshments will be served by our volunteers: A Fruit Shoot drink and small pack of biscuits for children, and a mince pie and fruit punch for adults. Dairy- and gluten-free alternatives are available on request, please advise our staff on the train if you require these.

Other refreshments, including light snacks, crisps, drinks, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and alcoholic beverages (including a delicious Irish Coffee and Irish Hot Chocolate) are available to purchase from the buffet car on the train throughout the journey.

There will also be children’s entertainers on the train.

Each family will be called up to meet Father Christmas himself in his wonderful grotto, where all children (including under 1s) receive their Christmas present. Presents are age-appropriate for each child. Please select the appropriate age when booking. We understand that all children develop at their own pace, so please advise Santa’s elves when you visit the grotto if your child would like a present applicable to a different age than they actually are. (To help us arrange the right quantity of presents, please enter the age of present required when booking.)

The train steams through the valley alongside the beautiful river Dart, with plenty of exciting noises and whistling on the way. The train pauses briefly at Staverton, where Santa’s workshop will be on display, and allowing Mrs Christmas to board the train and give sweets to all the children.

The train continues for a short while beyond Staverton (slightly further than in 2017), before returning to Staverton to allow Mrs Christmas to alight and then on to Buckfastleigh. There are no other planned stops on the journey.

The Santa-by-Steam experience train takes about one-and-three-quarter hours from departing Buckfastleigh to arriving back there, and the train is moving for nearly all of that time. On arrival back at Buckfastleigh Santa will be positioned by the steam locomotive for photos and to say good bye to everyone.


Tickets are available now, and normally completely sell out so book now to avoid disappointment!

Tickets can booked now online, or via phone on 01364 644 370.

Ticket prices:
Adults: £20
Children (Age 1-15): £12
Babies-in-arms (Age under 1): FREE (a seat will not be allocated)
Disabled passengers, and carers for disabled passenger, travel for half price please telephone to book.

The train has a limited number of wheelchair spaces which must be booked in advance, please telephone to book a wheelchair space.

Ticket prices include all travel, entertainment, refreshments, visit to Santa, and a present for children.


Please note that the formation of seating on the train is fixed and comprises seats in groups of 2 and 4. (It is not intended for any coaches with ‘compartments’ to form part of the train.) It is our intention that all groups of seats are around tables, but this cannot be guaranteed.

If there are an EVEN number of people in your group we will seat you on an appropriate set of seats (ie, if there are six in your group, a set of two and a set of four adjacent to each other).

If there are an ODD number of people in your group then the remaining seats around your tables may be booked by other families. If you wish to ensure exclusivity on a set of seats you may buy the extra seat, to make an even number, for a reduced rate of £9. Please add ‘Seat Block’ ticket to your order, and we will ensure that your family group has exclusive use of all groups of seats allocated. (Please note that a person may not travel on a ‘seat block’ ticket, if you subsequently wish to use your blocked seat for a person please contact us and we will arrange to upgrade it to a ticket for a person.)

Please ensure you book all your group’s tickets as one booking in order to be seated together.

We are always happy to welcome passengers with special needs onto our trains, and do everything we can to help.

Wheelchairs: The train has a limited number of wheelchair spaces which must be booked in advance, please telephone to book a wheelchair space. Our staff will operate ramps at Buckfastleigh to enable boarding and alighting.

Allergies: Dairy-free and gluten-free refreshments on the train are available, please ask a member of our staff.

Entertainment: If your child doesn’t wish to visit the entertainment at Buckfastleigh before boarding that is fine, please just arrive shortly before your boarding time and check in as normal. We also understand that not all children are comfortable with face-to-face entertainment on the train. If this is the case please let us know (by phone, after booking) and we will do our best to accommodate.