This post was written in 2014, so some information may be out of date. Please visit their site for the latest event details. For the 2016 holiday season, the Holiday Express Train Show, will take place from December 3, 2016 – January 8, 2017.
Until I had kids, I never realized just how popular toy trains are at this time of year. But that’s great news for all of us with little ones because any holiday event with a model train on display is sure to be a hit with the young and the young-at-heart alike. We’ve checked out the model trains here and here and here and here and we’ve even got a full list of holiday train displays here. And I mean it literally when I say these amazing model train layouts have all the bells and whistles. Ha!
Today I’m going to tell you about a new-to-me train display down in Fairfield, CT. It’s the Holiday Express Train Show at the Fairfield Museum and History Center, and for the 2014 holiday season it’s running from December 5th, 2014 to January 4th, 2015.
I actually found out about this event from
my train-obsessed husband my husband who knows how much our little boys LOVE trains and is always on the lookout for train events (he’s already trying to coax me into checking out the Amherst Railway Society’s Railroad Hobby Show at the Big E fair grounds in January; did I say obsessed?). Of course, while his intentions are good, he’s usually a little fuzzy on the specifics. Fortunately, I happened to open the December issue of Connecticut Parent Magazine and voila! There was a big blue ad telling me everything I needed to know.
Now, Fairfield is a bit of a drive from Glastonbury (where I live). It’s probably an hour. And I like to multi-task when I can (don’t we all?), so if we’re going to be down around the New Haven area, you can bet I’m going to sweet talk my way into a trip to Ikea 🙂
So that’s what we did. We got ourselves up and out early on a Saturday morning, headed down to Ikea to pick up a few items on my ever-growing list of storage solutions (now that we’ve finally got all our stuff into our new house, now I have to figure out where to put it all!), had a quick bite to eat at the Ikea cafe (yay Swedish Meatballs!) and then zipped down 95 to the Fairfield Museum and History Center for a little festive family fun.
It was very easy to find. The only thing to watch for is that when you are following the directions, and they tell you to look for “Old Post Road” you will likely come first to “Post Road”, which is just one block up and runs parallel to “Old Post Road”. So that’s not confusing or anything, right? Ha! But the good news is that either one will get you to the right place, so it’s really a non-issue. Wait, so why am I still talking about it then? Okay, moving on…
There is plenty of free parking at the museum. It was a really rainy day and Boo enjoyed jumping in every. puddle. there. Good thing he was wearing his boots! (This is the entrance, by the way.)
There is a little area for coats (and also umbrellas, in this case). You could probably leave a stroller here too, but you could also bring it to the display area with you. There is plenty of open space.
The counter to purchase your admission is just to the left as you enter.
Now normally, admission would have been $5/adult for us (free for kids under 5), but it happened to be a special Bank of America “Museums on Us” weekend, and we are card-holders so we got in for free (how did I not know about this program that gives Bank of America card-holders FREE admission into so many museums around the country? Including 6 museums in CT). And guess what? The train show will still be running the first full weekend in January…(hint, hint).
But even so, at just $5/adult and $3/child age 6 and up (age 5 and under FREE), this is a budget-friendly outing for sure.
Another fun thing is that there are many drop-in and preregistered kids’ programs going on (check them out here), like building a candy house or building a wooden train, plus a train-themed storytime. The drop-in programs are FREE with the price of admission, but even the registered programs are really reasonable ($5-$15 per child). If you’re thinking of checking out the display next week, drop by on Monday, December 22, Tuesday, December 23 or Friday, December 26 for the Choo Choo Storytime from 10:30-11:00 a.m.
So after we tried to pay for our admission, but then learned that we didn’t have to 🙂 we headed to the main event: the Holiday Express Train Show. It’s in the room straight back and to your left. (But actually, when we were there, I was told that there would be a new addition to the train show out in the lobby coming soon, and I just snagged this pic of it off their Facebook page!)
So take a look at this new layout, and then make your way into the main exhibit room.
The whole room was festively decorated and it was delightful to see the various model trains (all different sizes) whizzing around their tracks while the children stared and pointed gleefully. One thing I really loved was that there were step stools there for the smaller kids to use. That makes such a difference in their ability to enjoy the display. And yours too since you aren’t stuck trying to hoist them all over the room to get a good view! Ha!
Look who it is! Boo is always thrilled to see Thomas 🙂
Another nice feature of this display is that it is all in one big open room…with only one exit. So it’s relatively easy to let your little one wander around and look at all the trains without worrying about having to tail them.
While we were there, we took a quick tour through another exhibit in the museum that had some kid-friendly hands-on features like a wigwam they could crawl through and a two-story fort.
There’s also a cute gift shop here, if you need to do a little last-minute holiday shopping.
We spent about an hour at the museum, and then it was time to get on the road back home so we could try to keep some semblance of a nap schedule going for the little guy (who, fortunately, will still fall asleep in the car).
If you live nearby, or your holiday errands or travels will put you in the area, you should definitely make a stop at the Holiday Express Train Show. Watching your kiddos gaze with amazement as the trains roll by will make you feel like a kid again too. Joy and wonder. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about? 🙂
Wishing you all a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.
See you in 2015!
Museum Hours: Open Daily: 10am – 4pm
For the 2014 Season:
Holiday Express Schedule:
Weekends: 10am – 4pm
Weekdays: 11am – 1pm
Holiday Vacation Hours:
Wednesday, December 24 – Sunday, January 4: 10am – 4pm
(including Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve)
Closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
Fairfield Museum Members: FREE
Adults: $5 | Seniors: $3 |
Students (ages 6 – 22): $3
Children age 5 and younger: FREE
- Stroller Friendly: YES. There is enough space to maneuver a stroller.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: Eh, sort-of. Certain exhibits are designated as “No Food” and in general it’s probably not the best idea to be running around a Museum with a beverage, but they did tell me that coffee in travel mugs would be okay. See how good we are to you? We wear down museum staff until they say it’s okay to bring in coffee. Because we are moms. And moms. Need. Coffee. ‘Nough said.
- Restroom: YES.
- Baby Changing Station: I did not see one.
- Parking: YES. Free parking right outside the building in a parking lot.
- Food for Sale: I’m not 100% sure there weren’t any snacks for sale anywhere in the gift shop, but I’m going to go with NO on this one.
- Outside Food Allowed: See “Coffee Mug Friendly” above.
- Cash Required: NO.
- Dress Code: Nothing specific.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES.
- Discounts: YES. Bank of America cardholders get FREE admission on the first full weekend of every month (and the Holiday Express Train Show will still be running that first weekend in January!)
- Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – The state’s only free-standing hospital that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children. Based in Hartford, Connecticut Children’s also provides services at several locations throughout the state.
- Family Dental Practice of Bloomfield – Located in Bloomfield, this dental practice offers Family Dental Care, Invisalign, Cosmetic Dentistry, and IV Sedation. Visit their calm, convenient location with a friendly staff and state of the art technology. Kids are welcome!
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
- Mandell JCC – The Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT, welcomes and serves families and individuals of all ages, stages, backgrounds and faiths. Our fitness, wellness and recreation, arts and culture, camp, early childhood education programs, classes, clubs and services are open to all. You Belong Here!
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