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Santa Specials

Come and join Father Christmas for an enchanting experience at the South Devon Railway this Christmas.

Admire our wonderfully traditionally decorated carriages and stations as you take a warm and cosy journey to Totnes behind one of our majestic steam locomotives. Enjoy festive refreshments in your seat as the beautiful Devon countryside passes by the window and visit Father Christmas in his Grotto carriage with a gift for every child.

For the ultimate magical experience why not travel on one of our evening trains and soak up the wonderful ambience of our beautifully lit carriages and stations.

Santa Times

Our Santa by Steam departure times for 2019 are:

11:30 am
1:45 pm
4:00 pm
6:00 pm

Except for Christmas Eve when departure times will be:

11:00 am
1:15 pm

We advise that you arrive no later than 15 minutes before your booked departure time to allow time to book in and board the train.

Your Experience

Your experience starts in our cosy check-in marquee at Buckfastleigh Station, where you can briefly wait in the warm as Father Christmas’ elves prepare your train. Once Father Christmas gives the green light you will be taken through to board the train; our helpers will be there to guide you to your reserved seats.

Once you have found your seats, be sure to keep a look out for the Guard; when everyone is on board he will walk along the platform checking that everyone is “all aboard”. As we set off, the engine will whistle and we’ll be on our way to Totnes Riverside behind one of our majestic steam locomotives. As we depart don’t forget to wave to the Station Master!

During your journey you will be travelling in our beautifully decorated, warm and cosy, heritage coaches. You can sit back and enjoy the views as the complimentary refreshments are served to you at your seat. Each passenger will receive either a hot chocolate or fruit juice as well as a biscuit or mince pie.

Everyone will get to visit Father Christmas in his wonderful Grotto Carriage, with children receiving a gift, before our return to Buckfastleigh.

On arrival at Totnes station, with its’ traditional Christmas decorations, our steam locomotive will run around the carriages ready to take us back; we will have about 10 minutes before we depart again for Buckfastleigh.

The on-train experience will last approximately 1 ¾ hours.

Looking for something extra special?

Why not travel in one of our Premier Compartments? These magical ‘booths’, often seen in films, really provide an exclusive experience. Your own private compartment for up to 6 guests includes enhanced festive refreshments served at your seat.


Pre-booking is essential (so that Santa’s elves know how many presents to wrap!)

 We have very limited wheelchair accommodation on board our trains. If you need to reserve one of these spaces, please phone us to book.

A special discounted rate for those who are disabled, and their carers, are available by phoning our office on 01364 644370.  

If you make your booking online, you will be able to choose your own seats. If you book over the phone through our office your seats will be allocated by our staff. Whilst every attempt will be made to honour your seat choices, we reserve the right to alter them if deemed necessary. 

Shortly after you have made your booking you will receive an email confirmation. Please note this is not your ticket to travel. Both printed and e-tickets will be sent out from the 25th November. Your tickets will include details of your train time and seat numbers and these tickets should be brought with you on the day of travel.

Sorry, but we cannot accept dogs, except guide dogs.


Please note that the formation of seating on the train is fixed and comprises seats in groups of 2 (limited number) and 4 around a table.

We will attempt to allocate your group an appropriate set of seats but this may leave some spare seats around your table. These may then be booked by other families. If you wish to ensure exclusive use of a set of seats, you may buy the extra seat(s), for a reduced rate. Please add a ‘Seat Block’ ticket when booking.

(Please note that a passenger may not travel on a ‘seat block’ ticket. If you subsequently wish to use your blocked seat for a passenger, please contact us and we will arrange to upgrade it to a full ticket).

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

Thank you – and have a great time this Christmas!


Santa by Steam Terms and Conditions

Cancellation by South Devon Railway

If SDR are unable to fulfill the booking, then the booking holder will be offered either a refund, or may accept an alternative time and date, subject to availability, and SDR may at its discretion adjust a fare accordingly.

Cancellation by the booking holder

If the booking holder chooses to cancel the booking, then if a written (or e-mailed) cancellation is received at least four clear days before the date of the train concerned a 100% refund will apply, less an administration fee of £5.00. If the booking is cancelled less than four clear days before the booking, no refund will apply.

If the appropriate train runs, if the booking holder is prevented e.g by weather or traffic conditions, from travelling, then no refund will apply. SDR may offer an alternative time and date, subject to availability, and may at its sole discretion adjust a fare accordingly.

All refunds will be less an administration fee of £5.00.

Amendments by the Booking Holder

If the booking holder wishes to make an amendment to their booking, an admin fee of £5 will be incurred. Amendments to bookings will not be available after 12.00 on Friday 22nd November 2019.

Please note that no dogs are allowed on our Santa by Steam Services.