Hop on Holiday Express for festive fun

The Holiday Express train at Blackberry Farm is welcoming all aboard during the first three weekends in December for its Yuletide celebration, with thousands of glittering lights, festive activities and the jolly presence of Santa.

For eight days in December, the holiday spirit comes to life on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4, and Friday through Sunday, Dec. 9 to 11 and Dec. 16 to 18, when the decorated train will run continuously around Lake Gregory at the farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora.

Weekend hours are 2 to 6 p.m., and Friday hours are 5 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 9 and 16. A Special Needs Night is 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2.

More than 60,000 Christmas lights will illuminate the pioneer village, with shooting stars flashing above Blackberry Creek and holiday cartoon characters such as Frosty gracing the tour of Lake Gregory.

"Thousands and thousands of twinkling lights - from the ticket window to the train depot and all along the walkways - turn Blackberry Farm into a winter wonderland," said facility supervisor Sandie Gilmer.

"It's a holiday spectacle to be experienced, and a truly memorable outing."

Santa and his elves will be at Blackberry Farm each weekend, collecting children's wish lists at the Early Streets Museum. There's a sleigh full of other activities, including:

• Huntoon House: See what a Victorian Christmas looks like - from décor to small antique toy displays.

• Reindeer Food Bar: Mix up a snack bag and take it home to treat Santa's reindeer on Christmas Eve.

• North Pole Oasis (Carriage Museum): Enjoy crafts, music and a full menu of concessions available for purchase.

• Candy Cane Village (Adventure Playground): Festively decorated and lit.

• Little Elf Hobby Shoppe (Weaver's Cabin): Create a commemorative bird feeder to help your feathered friends celebrate the holidays.

• Sugar Plum Play Land: Enjoy winter-themed sensory tables and dive into the corn crib.

• Santa's Workshop: Observe the blacksmith creating Victorian-era toys and tools.

• Gingerbread School House: Classic holiday stories read alongside the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

• North Pole Barn: Visit Olivia, the friendly Potbelly Pig, as she helps Santa's reindeer get in shape for Christmas.

• Reindeer Training Facility (Pony Ring): See the ponies demonstrate what it takes to become a sled-pulling reindeer.

Visitors also can enjoy hay wagon rides while being entertained by carolers and storytellers. Also, volunteer carolers (individual and group) are welcome; call (630) 897-1550 to schedule.

All-access admission to Holiday Express is just $5 per person, free for children younger than 2. As a new convenience, advance tickets can be purchased online. For information, contact (630) 892-1550 or

If you go

What: Holiday Express train

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays and 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 3 to 18; special needs night Friday, Dec. 2

Where: Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora

Cost: $5 per person, free for children younger than 2

Info: (630) 892-1550 or

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