Press Release – November 27, 2023

AURORA – The sights, sounds and spirit of the season return to festively garnished Blackberry Farm, where Holiday Express revs to welcome all aboard another magical experience highlighted by a train ride to the virtual North Pole.

Trimmed with accents of the treasured 2004 movie The Polar Express, the Fox Valley Park District’s popular seasonal event runs Thursdays-Sundays beginning Thursday, Nov. 30, through Sunday, Dec. 17.

Hours are from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Special Needs Night, a low-sensory environment with quieter music and fewer tickets sold, takes place Friday, Dec. 1.

Holiday Express’ $10 admission (get your tickets here) includes unlimited rides on the replica steam engine train and hay wagon, which are both ADA-accessible. The FVPD’s annual yuletide event began in 2006.

“Holiday Express is a tradition for so many families, and we’re starting to span generations,” says Abby Oldenburg, rentals and events manager at Blackberry Farm. “Moms and dads who used to be in the wagons and on Santa’s lap are here with their own kids now.”

Across the park, thousands of twinkling lights adorn streetlamps, trees and buildings; lighted candy canes illuminate walking paths; and classic holiday music drifts in the background throughout the event.

Oldenburg recommends guests earmark a couple hours to enjoy all of Blackberry’s attractions, and notes evenings tend to be busier, “so plan for a short wait for the train and dress for the weather,” she says. “We encourage families to explore the park and check out the different holiday-themed scenes, make indoor crafts, warm up with a cup of hot cocoa – or all of the above. It’s festive and fun around every corner.”

Want the full Holiday Express experience? Here’s a list of locations that feature a lineup of activities throughout the park:

A Huntoon Christmas: Check out festive holiday displays and color a Holiday Express coloring book inside Huntoon House!

North Pole Oasis (Carriage Museum): Bring your lists, kids, because this is the chance to whisper your wishes to Santa Claus! (Moms and dads won’t want to miss the photo op!)

Candy Cane Village (Adventure Playground): Enjoy Blackberry’s beautifully lit playground (weather permitting).

North Pole Depot: All aboard the replica steam engine train for a trip to the North Pole!

Winter Sleigh Ride: Dash through the snow on a cozy wagon ride.

Sugar Plum Playland (Little Farmer’s Junction): Enjoy the winter-themed sensory table. (Attraction closes at dusk.)

Little Elf Hobby Shoppe (Weaver’s Cabin): Create a candy cane ornament to hang on your tree at home.

Gingerbread School House: Cozy up and listen to classic holiday stories while keeping warm near the real wood-burning stove.

Kringle’s Café (Summer Kitchen): Stop by Santa’s favorite café for some yummy treats and hot chocolate that “hits the spot.”

Holiday Village (Early Streets Museum): Warm up with an indoor craft and cheery holiday music. Stop by the Reindeer Food Bar and create a feed bag to set out on Christmas Eve!

Gift Shop: Find antique vintage toys and stocking stuffers.

“Whether you’re here to visit Santa, make crafts, or simply stroll the park to look at lights and listen to music, there’s something for everyone,” Oldenburg says. “No matter your age, Holiday Express brings out the ‘kid’ in all of us.”