Whether it’s the Orient Express or Thomas the Tank, trains and train travel have long been publicized in numerous songs, films and books that young and old are infinitely familiar with; here in Vancouver, the Stanley Park train is a local institution. One of the most popular attractions with the young and young at heart, it has been in operation for over 50 years carrying over 200,000 passengers a year. This train is a replica of Canadian Pacific Railway’s Engine #374, the first passenger train in Canada running from coast to coast, but you can view the real thing at The Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown, where the locomotive is on display permanently.
Although the train runs on a regular schedule during the spring and summer, it also opens for a few seasonally-themed events including Halloween, Easter and Christmas. Take a fifteen minute ride of two kilometers through tunnels, forest and trestles; as well, there are more than a few surprise features during the sold out seasonal events. This fall, the Halloween Ghost Train’s theme is “The Day of the Dead” which will include a tunnel of flames, the Lady of Death as well as a graveyard scene welcoming a motley assortment of ghouls and spirits. And when the Christmas season approaches, the train undergoes another incarnation: Bright Nights Christmas Train, a sparkling, gilttering magical place festooned with a million lights (3 million, to be exact!) as well as live music, entertainment and of course, St Nick himself! During this seasonal display, the train ride is virtually sold out on most days and evenings, due to the popularity and charitable nature of this event: the lighting display is mounted by firefighters across British Columbia, with admission proceeds to benefit the Firefighters Burn Fund.
No matter what season or the time of year, don’t forget to include a charming little ride on the miniature train when you visit Stanley Park!