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Big Christmas Trains. Adrianne Wood took this photo of a real 'Christmas train' in Vermont.
Large Scale Christmas TrainsO Gauge Christmas Trains
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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).

Update for 2021 - Although we have been huge supporters of Hawthorne Village trains and towns since 2004, actions and changing policies of their parent company Bradford Exchange in the last years have forced us to discontinue our informational articles and product recommendations regarding their products. We hope this situation is temporary, but we offer our apologies for any inconvenience.

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 to the buyer's guide page for that kind of train.

  • Click to see the biggest commercially available Christmas model trains you can buy.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.

    Several new Large Scale train sets are planned this year from high-quality manufacturers like LGB, Piko and Bachmann. In addition. Lionel continues to introduce more battery-powered trains that run on G gauge track (great for the kiddies) and have special Christmas colors the whole family will love. That said, some of these are already getting in short supply, so if you want a really big Christmas train around your tree this year, don't wait too long to order. Click here to jump right to the Large Scale Christmas trains page.

  • Click to see Lionel's fast-selling line of Christmas trains for this year.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. Lionel introduced several new sets in the last two years, and we're looking forward to this year's introductions. Keep in mind that some of the speciality trains don't last long.Click here to jump to the O Gauge Christmas Trains page.

  • Click to see this streetcar set on the Bachmann On30 pageOn30 trains. Bachmann, who manufactured Hawthorne Village's On30 trains for them, used to have a variety of On30 train sets, including some colored for Christmas. Again, they work great with holiday villages.

    Several of their most popular Christmas offerings went out of stock in the last eighteen months, but more seem to be on their way. Click here to see Bachmann's streetcar set, and a description of the Christmas trains they offer intermittently. We'll post anything new as it comes on our radar. .

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 TrainsTM.

  • 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<sup><small>TM</small></sup> Primer page.Big Indoor TrainsTM Primer Page - Our "sister site" BigIndoorTrains.comTM 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 TinplateTM 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-TownsTM 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.comTM.

  • Click to visit Family Christmas Online(tm)Family Christmas OnlineTM - 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.comTM 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.comTM, 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

More Holiday Trains and Accessories




Note: Family Garden TrainsTM, Garden Train StoreTM, Big Christmas TrainsTM, BIG Indoor TrainsTM, BIG Train StoreTM, and Trains-N-TownsTM 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, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically prohibited. Big Christmas Trains(tm) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


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