The 5 Best Christmas Train Sets To Go Under Your Tree

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Christmas trainLooking to make your child’s Christmas morning extra special? It can’t get better than a train trundling around the base of the Christmas tree. I’ve opened my presents early to find the 5 best train sets to go under your tree.

Lionel were the original Christmas tree train set company, starting the tradition just after the First World War. In an astute marketing move they persuaded the big US department stores to incorporate their beautiful steam trains into the store tree displays and Christmas trees and trains have been an item ever since.

Before getting into the top 5, grab a glass of mulled wine, take a seat and watch this Lionel train, complete with sounds and lights, work its festive magic around a Christmas tree. to wet your appetite.

In no particular order, here are my top five picks for the best trains to go under your yuletide display.

#1 Holly and Hornby

Hornby Santa SpecialWhen it comes to model trains in the UK there’s really only choice: Hornby.

Our favourite manufacturer is back and this Christmas train sets look perfect.

There are loads of different Hornby train sets— including the Thomas and Friends trains below — but for that magical Christmas morning moment there’s really no competition than seeing the Hornby’s Santa Special trundle around the base of the Christmas tree. It’s just enchanting to watch.

It’s a delightful little steam train, with a Christmas themed livery and a wagon overflowing with beautiful decorated presents — all to tiny scale of course — will light up the face of any child as they rush to see what awaits them on 25th December.

As mentioned above, Hornby do a large range of trains, track and accessories that this and the Thomas trains are fully compatible with and both of these train sets could form the basis for a much bigger train set that will give months, even years, of enjoyment during and after Christmas.

Update: The Hornby Christmas train set is on offer at the moment at 24% off normal price. Stocks are also running low as it gets closer to Christmas so get it soon to avoid disappointment.

#2 Tinsel Toy Train

Brio battery operated train setHaving an electric train trundling around under your Christmas tree makes a special Christmas but sometimes it may not be appropriate – with very young children who might pop them in their mouth for example.

If this is your predicament, battery driven wooden trains especially made for the youngest members of the family can bring the magic of a tree train to your festive holidays without the risk.

And in this category you can’t go wrong with Brio and their 50 piece Country railway set.  There are of course lots of wooden train sets but what tingles the tinsel around your tree with this set is the colouring (the engine is a lovely pine matching Green), one of the wagons has mini trees on it too and it has two wagons into which little sweets – and with a little imagination and DIY craft work, tiny presents –  can be placed adding to the festive feel.  (For making these see here for an easy guide to Origami Post-it note boxes)

The Brio set is available here.

#3 Let’s Go Loco With Lego

Lego 600551 HSTYou can’t go wrong with Lego and children and this wonderful motorised Lego train set proves hugely popular.  Although not Christmas themed, the fun of assembling the train and watching it zoom around the tree and between presents on Christmas morning will more than make up it.

One word of caution, this train can go very fast so cats will have a lot of fun chasing it around too and it’s probably best if the controller is kept out of reach of younger children. Being Lego it also needs time to build so get up extra early if you want to surprise the family!

The Lego HST train is waiting for your tree here.

#4 Thomas Under the Tree

Thomas the Tank Engine Christmas TreeIs there a child that doesn’t like Thomas the Tank Engine? Mix their favourite engine with their favourite time of year and you have instant Christmas cheer.

As the first train set in this round up with with authentic looking track – complete with sleepers and metal rails – it looks wonderful.

This is also part of the Hornby OO range of model trains – more on this in a minute – so can be expanded with more track, buildings and trains to build up into full model railway after Christmas.

Click here if you want this delightful Thomas and Friends Hornby train set.


MRE Warning:
The train sets featured here are all motorised with electrics so the trains can trundle around your tree on their own but please make sure you turn them off and disconnect the power if leaving them alone for any period of time and make sure you can get to the power easily and quickly in a emergency. Christmas trees are very flammable and any electrical accidents could have catastrophic results for your Christmas.


#5 Lionel Polar Express

Lionel Polar ExpressI started this round up with a trip down memory lane to the beginnings of Christmas tree’s and trains and a look at a Lionel so how better to finish than with the modern version.

This is much larger than the other trains featured here being based on G gauge – 45mm wide track instead of the OO gauge (16.5mm wide track) used for the Hornby trains – so it’ll need a big tree and more room. The upside is of course it looks great. And being based on the train in the Christmas film of the same name it’ll be instantly recognized and adds an extra magic touch to any tree.

Personally, I prefer the Hornby trains which while smaller seems feel better built than this plastic train but for young children the lights, sounds and Polar Express association may swing the balance.

Note, this is not the train featured in the video above. This is a battery powered model and doesn’t have the smoke feature.

The Lionel Polar Express can be difficult to get in the UK so shop around, stocks allowing it can also be found here.

If you already have a train set for your tree and want to get your children something train related, these Train Themed Books for Children will be ideal.

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