The tradition continues! Every year for the last decade I’ve kicked off the holiday season by visiting the New York Botanical Garden’s amazing Holiday Train Show. Even before I had kids, there was something just so intriguing about it, so romantic, so fun. It completely deserves all of the hype.
Since having kids – especially train-obsessed kids – it’s become a favorite annual family custom. What I love now about visiting the show is not just the ever-changing creations made of natural elements, but the memories found on fixed things too. Like the bench where I nursed my daughter (who is now eight). Or the exit where my son (who is now five) stood for an hour and was completely shocked and surprised every time Thomas the Train passed by (pictured at the top). I smile as I pass these places and shake my head at how my children have grown.
This year it was even more fun for us. Our youngest is two and by far the most train-obsessed of the bunch. We could not wait to take him. His reactions did not disappoint. Everything he saw he just gasped in awe. It was so cute. As we walked through the show his little head just whipped up, down and all around. He just didn’t know where to look. We had so much fun watching him.
What’s nice for repeat visitors like us is how the show changes and evolves each year. I noticed a lot more bright colors and love the addition of the heavily baubled holiday trees. Every aspect of the show simply screamed “holidays”. I also noticed all signs were in both English and Spanish, and there were a lot more natural tunnels and waterfalls. I love when something perfect gets even better.
Generally my plan of attack is to visit the show first thing in the morning on a weekend to avoid the crowds. But there is something to say about seeing the show at night with all the lights too. So really, anytime you go is perfect. Going at a leisurely pace you can see the whole show in an hour and a half. But in truth – and without the kids (you love dearly) bothering you – one could spend hours there. There are just so many tiny little details you can catch, it’s astonishing.
If a kid-free viewing sounds good to you, check out their adults only Bar Car Nights featuring Bronx Night Market Holiday Pop-up. Not only will you get an after dark viewing of the Show, but the NYBG transforms into a festive outdoor adventure.
If Thomas the Tank is your jam then I highly recommend checking out All Aboard with Thomas and Friends which begins December 29th. In addition to the Holiday Train Show, there is a show staring your favorite blue engine. We’ve seen this show several times, and it did not disappoint in the eyes of my kids.
One of the nicest things you can do while at the Holiday Train Show is enjoy all that the New York Botanical Gardens has to offer. They have a fantastic 12 acre kids adventure garden, tons of family programming, the Evergreen Express, and gardens galore.
The Holiday Train Show’s 175 New York landmarks were the brain child of Paul Busse from Applied Imagination in Kentucky. Along with his team, he has been creating these annual jaw dropping “sculptures” out of bark, leaves, and other natural materials in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory since 1992. This year’s exhibition offers more G-scale trains and track (over half a mile!) than ever before and showcases the beloved monuments of Lower Manhattan.