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Big Christmas Trains. This photo shows Paul's Large Scale Christmas trains running outside in November, 2012 for a special public event. Click for a bigger photo.
Large Scale Christmas TrainsO Gauge Christmas Trains
On30 Christmas TrainsMore Holiday Villages

Written by Paul D. Race for and

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Trains are fun. Trains running during the holiday season represent a century-old tradition in North America. And "big trains," the kind that look best running around the Christmas tree or running through Holiday Villages, are growing rapidly in popularity. Some people feel that they bring back warm memories; others note that two or three generations of their family often come together to set up and enjoy the trains, or that it's nice to see the kids playing with something that doesn't have a video screen. Many other folks have found that watching a train circle the Christmas Tree or a Holiday Village is every bit as relaxing as watching a fire in the fire place.

No matter what aspect of setting up and running trains at Christmas appeals to you, the Big Christmas Trains site is designed to help you find the best ideas and resources.

  • Our Primer pages include and link to dozens of articles that will help you choose, set up, and accessorize any Christmas train, whether it is around a tree, around a town, or simply running back and forth on the hutch.

  • Each page of our Buyers Guides (below) includes descriptions, illustrations, and links to reputable vendors who sell the products we recommend.

  • In addition, our "Letters to the Editor" section lists a lot of questions and answers that this site has generated over the last eight years.

  • If the above resources leave you still looking for answers, our editors will also try to answer your e-mail questions about any project or product listed on these pages (although if you wait until December 15 to ask your questions we might not be a prompt as you would like us to be).

Mark Your Calendars! - Our sixth annual Christmas-themed open railroad on our own New Boston and Donnels Creek is currently scheduled for November 9 this year (2013) (near Springfield, Ohio). We're hoping for more trains and other great activities for the whole family. Check back for details, as well as information on other Christmas-themed open railroads in the area.

What Kind of Train Do I Need?

Big Christmas trains come in three basic sizes. Clicking on any of the links below will take you a little further down the page, where there are links to the buyers' guides.

  • Large Scale trains, which are the biggest trains we show - they look especially good around the Christmas tree. You can even use them outdoors. But most of them are too big to fit on a table or go with a Holiday Village.
  • O Gauge/O27 trains. These are the trains your grandpa may have grown up with - the ones that use three-rail track. They are also good around the Christmas tree, although they can be used with Holiday villages.
  • Hawthorne Village Collectible trains and On30 trains. These are about the same size as O Gauge/O27 trains, but run on different track. They work especially well with Holiday Villages. They also work fine around the Christmas tree. We feature both collectible trains and model trains in On30.

To Lean More About the Sizes and Scales of Big Christmas Trains, please check out the article "Sizes and Scales of Big Christmas Trains.

Free Christmas Train Resources

    Click to go to our Christmas Train Primer page.Our Christmas Train Primer pages offer many ideas, downloadable graphics and plans, and links to other resources. In short, this is the Internet's largest library of information about Christmas trains and related hobbies, including the following articles:

    • Sizes and Scales of Big Christmas Trains - Contains more details about the relative sizes of the Big Christmas Trains listed above.

    • Choosing Christmas Trains and Villages - Describes more options for picking out or making Christmas villages, as well as for choosing trains for your towns. This article answers questions like "How Big are Christmas Villages and the Trains that Go With Them?" "Where do Christmas Towns Come From?" "Where do Christmas Trains Come From?" and "What if You Don't Have Room for a 38" Track Circle?"

    • Scales and Gauges - They're not the Same - A detailed description of the difference between scales like O and HO and gauges like O gauge, On30, HO gauge, HOn36, and so on. From Big Indoor Trains™.

  • Letters to the Editor page - Since October, 2004, we've been answering questions about Christmas trains. Our Letters to the Editor page includes questions from Christmas Train lovers all over the world.

  • Click to go to the Big Indoor Trains™ Primer page.Big Indoor Trains™ Primer Page - Our "sister site" BigIndoorTrains.com™ has a growing library of articles about combining model trains with holiday and collectible villages. New features include articles about displaying your trains, making scenery, and surrounding your trains with vintage-looking buildings that would have been at home on a Christmas railroad 60 to 100 years ago. Of special interest to Christmas train lovers:

    • Our Glitterhouse articles provide historical and craft project information about those cardboard houses that graced many a Christmas railroad in the 1930s-1960s.

    • Our Tribute to Tinplate™ projects help you fill your railroad with vintage tinplate-inspired buildings like the lithographed masterpieces made to go with the old tinplate trains a century ago.

  • Trains-N-Towns™ Newsletter - A newsletter for people who run big indoor trains, especially folks who combine those trains with holiday villages or othe displays - also sponsored by BigIndoorTrains.com™.

  • Click to visit Family Christmas Online(tm)Family Christmas Online™ - This is a resource we started in 2007 to answer questions about Christmas in general. It includes a growing number of articles about Christmas traditions, several of which touch on the history of "trains and towns" in our Christmas celebrations. Two favorite articles among Christmas train fans are:

  • CardboardChristmas.com™ New for 2011! In our research on various Christmas subjects, we keep running into great people who collect or build replicas of those cardboard houses that were set out with the train set every Christmas season between 1928 and 1965. There are several great web resources, too, but much of the information is hard for beginning collectors to find. Go to the Cardboard Christmas web page.So we have put together CardboardChristmas.com™, a careful cross-reference of the most useful and reliable web resources about these inexpensive, but fragile treasures. We have also added a forum for asking and answering questions, and collecting information about these houses. If you have any interest in learning more about these little houses, please click here.

Note about Availability and Pricing: Although I try to recommend quality products that are available from reliable sources, the model train and collectibles markets fluctuate, so any product in this catalog may change price or become unavailable without notice. Yes, more new Christmas trains are becoming available and staying available longer. But the "limited edition" trains on these pages are still limited editions, and some of the other trains will be replaced by "updated versions" in other colors or with other features. This is not a "hard sell," simply a reminder that if you want any particular holiday train in your home for the next holiday season, you should get your order in early. For more detailed information about why products seem to come and go, please see the article "About Pricing and Availability."

Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the products you want by recommending suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose to provide your trains or other purchases are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. So please print off any order confirmation screens and save copies of invoices, etc., so you can contact the appropriate supplier should any problems occur. (They almost never do, but you want to be on the safe side.)

Finally, if you have any questions, testimonials, recommendations, or photographs you'd like to share with other readers, please contact me. In the meantime, may your holidays and all of the days in your life be blessed!

Paul D. Race, Proprietor


Large Scale Christmas Trains

Use around Christmas Trees or For Outdoor and Professional Display Railroads.

"Large Scale Trains" are used in big public display railroads (like those in the Botanical Gardens). They also look great around a Christmas tree. If you're wondering whether a Large Scale Christmas train will fit in your house, please refer to the "Sizes and Scales of Big Christmas Trains article.

To learn more about Large Scale Christmas trains, please click on the picture to the left. On the other hand, many "non-Christmas" Large Scale trains go nicely with Christmas colors. So, if you like the size of Large Scale trains and would rather have a train in "non-Christmas" colors, you might also check out the Large Scale Starter Set page. These are all very big trains, though. So if you're mainly looking for something to use with a Holiday Village, you might consider an O gauge/O27 or On30 train (below).


OO-Gauge (Lionel) Christmas Trains

Bring back great memories and make new ones. For about a century, Lionel(tm) has been making O-gauge trains that run on three-rail track. Lionel(tm) trains have a worldwide reputation for being fun and reliable. All sets include an oval of track and a Lionel power supply to run your trains. They will also look nice with your Christmas village structures, if you have room for a track circle (about 40" minimum).

Update for 2009: New Products and New Suppliers - A new Polar Express car is available, and we have added a new supplier, Trainz.com, that brings a wealth of products and product knowledge to our readers. That said, at least one Polar Express car is getting hard to find, and some of the other products may be unavailable by Christmas, so don't wait too long to order anything on your wish list.

OStarting in 2006, at popular request, we added a page describing several of Lionel's best-selling non-Christmas trains. If you think you might want to set up trains at other times of year, keep in mind that these also look great under the Christmas tree.

Again, nearly every year, at least one train we have listed in August becomes unavailable by December. So please order early and check back often.

For more details about Lionel O-gauge Christmas or Year-Round offerings, please click on either picture above.


On30 Christmas Model Trains

Real model trains that are just the right size! Several years ago, Bachmann introduced O-scale trains that run on two rail (HO-gauge) track. Thus, they permanently married the enjoyment of trains to the enjoyment of Holiday Villages. This catalog features Victorian-era trains and streetcars that look like they belong with most Christmas village structures. Note: Nearly every year at least one of the Bachmann On30 products becomes unavailable by mid-December. Unlike the limited edition Hawthorne Village(r) trains, they generally reappear within a few months, but seldom in time for Christmas of that year. Although we are constantly on the lookout for more suppliers and trains, you should always consider ordering anything you really want early.

To learn more about Bachmann On30 trains and accessories, please click on the picture above.


On30 Collectible Trains

For maximum charm! Order now to receive the whole train by Christmas! Hawthorne Village(tm) features a collection of "On30" trains that are designed specifically to look good with Holiday Village sets, such as those by Dept. 56, Hawthorne Village, etc. They are also large enough to look good around your Christmas tree. For your convenience, they run on HO track, so they will fit just about anywhere. New sets become available every year, so check back often.

The Hawthorne Village trains use reliable mechanisms and other parts from Bachmann On30 trains, so they run like "champs," and service will always be available. But the Hawthorne Village designers add artwork and other detailing that make these trains much more attractive and collectable. In spite of the fact that they are limited-edition, subscription trains, they are also an excellent value (and our best sellers every Christmas season since 2004). So it's never too early to consider signing up for the one you like while it is still available.

To learn more about On30 Collectible Christmas trains, click on the picture above.



More Holiday Villages

Mayberry RFD(tm), Bedford Falls(tm), and many more memories! As the Hawthorne Village collections explode in popularity, many new collections are being added. This page lists some great communities that have never been licensed before, much less produced with this quality and value.

  • Nostalgic collections include memories from the Andy Griffith show, from the movie It's a Wonderful Life, and more.
  • Fun collections include memories from the Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer special and more.
  • Classic collections include designs by Berta Hummel and M.I. Hummel.

To see many new Hawthorne Village collections, please click on the picture above.


Trains and Villages for Every Season

Celebrate St. Paddy's Day, July Fourth, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and More

Holiday trains aren't just for Christmas anymore. In response to huge demand for holiday trains and villages, Hawthorne Village® has introduced new trains and villages for every season - and for nearly every holiday - of the year. These heirloom quality collectibles are the same size and quality as the Hawthorne Village® Christmas collectibles that have already become best-sellers. But they prove that quality and charm can be enjoyed all year 'round. They include trains designed by well-known artists such as Thomas Kinkade and Al Agnew.

For more details about holiday trains and villages for every season, please click on the picture above.


Halloween Trains and Towns Page - As more and more people get into setting out holiday villages earlier, there's been a rising demand for information about Halloween trains and town. We've added a Halloween Trains Primer page to answer your questions and to link to many free, fun projects and resources for any Halloween village or railroad.

Click the button to the left to go directly to our Halloween Trains page. Plus we are trying to keep links to recommended Halloween trains and towns up to date.

The collectible Halloween village and train products have been selling very fast, so please check them out soon and don't wait too long to decide.


In addition, the O-Scale Accessories page includes many inexpensive details such as bridges, fencing, and stations, that will bring life to any O-Scale or O-Gauge railroad. For details on these accessories, click on the image to the right.O Scale Accessories

Sports Team Trains These are HO subscriber trains that celebrate the colors and spirit of your favorite team. They will not run on your garden railroad or look right in your Christmas village. That said, some folks seem to think they look great on a shelf in the "den" or "rec room." And they run like champs.

These exclusive "Team Colors" Train Sets from Hawthorne Village feature:

  • Officially licensed by the appropriate teams, players' organizations, and sports organizations, perfect for the serious fan and collector
  • Wonderfully embellished with the colors, the symbols and (generally) the players of the teams
  • Marvelous craftsmanship in HO scale, ideal for home display by the true model train enthusiast
  • Masterfully crafted with a solid metal chassis and steel alloy wheels to bring you years of enjoyment
  • Engine headlight lights up and cars are illuminated from within
  • Nickel Silver tracks and power-pack are FREE - a $60 value - with the collection, and will be shipped along with the second and third train cars
  • Includes Certificate of Authenticity
  • Individual train cars are HO scale, completed oval track measures 36" x 54"

For more information on Hawthorne Village Team Subscription Trains, please click on the photograph above.


Home Pages
Reading Index Pages
Buyer's Guide Pages
Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page Return to Family Garden Trains Home page Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingBig Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads


Note: Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, Big Christmas Trains™, BIG Indoor Trains™, BIG Train Store™, and Trains-N-Towns™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically prohibited.


For more information, please contact us

Click to see exclusive, licensed train collections in your favorite NFL colors!


Just for Christmas - Collectible Decorations and Gifts - Visit any of the links below
to see quality collectible Christmas gifts and decorations that have been popular with our
readers. Many are designed by Thomas Kinkade and other world-class artists and designers.

Click to see collectible table-top trees, including animated ceramic trees from Thomas Kinkade(r) and other world-class designers. Click to see collectible Christmas wreaths designed by world-known artists. Click to see classic nativity sets, including collections from world-known designers. Click to see collectible Christmas ornaments by world-known designers. Click to see Christmas collectibles with railroad themes - designs by Thomas Kinkade(r).