It is time to get into the Christmas spirit and what better way than aboard this magical train ride as part of the Steam and Lights event at Swanage Railway.

For the first time ever the railway has put on this spectacular journey to welcome in the festive season - their usual Santa Specials had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This five-star event was filled with festive cheer from start to finish and is one of the great Christmas pleasures not to be missed this year.

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On arrival we were met with an excited crowd that had gathered outside the festive-themed ticket office ready to embark on their journey.

The station had been adorned with Christmas decorations and Santa could be seen across the platform.

One of the first highlights was the big light ‘switch on’ which can be enjoyed on the train's first departure of the evening at around 5pm.

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A cheering crowd applauded as the train's bright lights were turned on, signalling the start of our great adventure through the Purbecks.

Run completely by volunteers this experience could not have gone ahead without the incredible staff who make the event completely hassle-free and family-friendly.

Steve Williams, Trustee and Commercial Director at Swanage Railway said: “The response to this event has absolutely blown us away.”

“We are going to be doing the event again next year and hopefully if social distancing is eased then we will be able to bring our Santa back.”

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The smiling railway staff are on hand to direct you to your carriage and wave the train off as it departs the station.

Inside the carriages are festively decorated with tinsel and twinkling lights whilst a playlist of carefully curated Christmas songs accompanies your journey.

A heart-warming moment for all in the cosy carriages has to be when the hit song ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ by Michael Buble started to play and the train filled with song and laughter.

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People had gathered along the route to see the illuminated steam train in all its glory and small children waved from their bedroom windows in awe.

We were met with a range of Christmas scenes throughout the hour-long journey, one of my personal favourites was the umbrella installation and the cheeky hidden elves just after Norden Station. The pièce de résistance of the event, for both passengers and on-lookers alike, is when the train reaches the stunning Corfe Castle creating a breath-taking image as it passes by.

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Corfe Castle Railway Station was filled with onlookers, a few people even stood on the railway bridge to get the best view.

Station master David Brice was also on hand to keep the toasty coal fire going and discuss all things locomotive and the history of the rail line.

The Steam and Lights train chugging through the gorgeous illuminated Purbeck line is utterly magical and a Christmas miracle that cannot be missed.

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Hazel Butterworth from Bransgore boarded the train with her family and 20 month old granddaughter Phoebe.

Mrs Butterworth said: “We’ve been really looking forward to doing something for Christmas this year and we have had a really good time.

“It’s what I expected it to be and we really enjoyed it, so did she [Phoebe] which is the main thing.

“I would definitely recommend it for families with children.”

Delicious picnic boxes can also be pre-ordered to enjoy during your journey. Packed full of locally-sourced festive favourites they include a turkey and cranberry roll, homemade sausage rolls, mince pies and much more for just £7.25.

To find out more visit the Swanage Railway website.