The Watercress Line is steaming ahead with a bumper season of exciting new and returning events for families and heritage railway enthusiasts alike.
The season starts with a new event, Magic Of Locomotion, from 10 – 18 February, where families can enjoy magic shows and discover how magic becomes reality making locomotives move.
The new Easter Bunny Train hops into action during the Easter break, with egg-citing ‘singalong’ rides on board and the chance to meet the Easter Bunny at Ropley Station! There will be plenty of Easter-themed activities to keep young ones entertained, including an Easter Egg spotter trail and Easter selfie spots, taking place from Friday 29 March to Monday 1 April.
Discover impressive home fleet and visiting locomotives at the popular Spring Steam Gala, from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 April. Visitors can explore all the heritage stations along the 10-mile line looking over the South Downs National Park, learn about the Watercress Line’s restoration projects, enjoy brake van rides and behind-the-scenes tours of the workshops.
Another highlight of the Watercress calendar is the arrival of Thomas & Friends © for a week of thrilling Thomas-themed adventures from Saturday 25 May to Sunday 2 June.
It’s All Change with a fantastic new event on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 June. All Change will have plenty of 1950s and ’60s entertainment, including music and dancing, along with vintage vehicles to bring even more nostalgia to the heritage railway.
Following its huge success last year, the Diesel Gala returns for a weekend of heritage diesel traction, taking place over the Watercress Line’s steeply graded line from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 July.
Anyone interested in engineering will enjoy exploring the fascinating engineering hub at Ropley Station on 14 and 15 September. The Engineering Open Weekend will include access to restoration projects taking place in the yard, the engineering shed and carriage shop. As part of Heritage Open Days, there will also be free Behind the Scenes tours at Ropley Station and society stands with more information about restorations projects.
Enjoy Autumn colour on steam train rides through glorious Hampshire countryside at the Watercress Line Autumn Steam Gala, from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 October. Home fleet and visiting locomotives will be in operation and visitors can also discover exciting restoration projects and exhibitions.
Little witches and wizards can cast some Halloween magic at the wickedly wonderful Wizard Week taking place during autumn half term, Friday 26 October to Sunday 3 November. Children are invited to wear to scare in frightful fancy dress and there’s plenty of spellbinding treats in store! Harry Potter fans can ride the Wizard Express steam train and walk in his magical footsteps over the famous railway footbridge where Harry received his Hogwarts Express ticket in the film.
As the festive season approaches, don’t miss the opportunity to take a ride on the new Father Christmas Express, running from 14 to 23 December – and book early for the spectacular Steam Illuminations, an incredible sound and light show on a steam train, running from November to January 2025!
The Watercress Line is also open for train travel up and down the line on non-event dates – find out when to visit on the website https://watercressline.co.uk/
If you’re celebrating a special occasion or looking for a memorable meal, book a table on The Watercress Belle fine dining train or the Countryman Sunday Lunch train.
Watercress Line CEO Rebecca Dalley said: “We’re thrilled to announce a bumper year of exciting events taking place at the Watercress Line.
“With new attractions and old favourites returning, there’s something for visitors of all ages and magical memories just waiting to be made. Visit us online to book your tickets so you don’t miss out – we look forward to welcoming you.”