The North Pole Express is a holiday event that has been held annually since 2004 by the Steam Railroading Institute. They take place in November and December during the weekends.
The event involves Pere Marquette 1225, the locomotive which inspired The Polar Express, representing its fictional counterpart. At the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan, passengers will board a train being pulled by #1225, which will take an hour long journey to the village of Ashley. During the ride, passengers can interact with various characters in the film, including the Conductor, the Hobo and Santa Claus. They can also drink hot chocolate, which is available in the concession car along with other refreshments.
When the train arrives in Ashley, the passengers will get off and participate in the Village of Ashley's Country Christmas. A lot of activities are hosted there, including horse drawn carriage rides, a petting zoo, watching street performances and meeting Santa. After two hours, Santa will give the first gift of Christmas before the passengers board #1225 again for the return trip to Owosso.
The passengers can choose to ride on different classes, each one providing them with different accommodations and souvenirs. All passengers receive a silver bell and a ticket, but the higher classes also give them other souvenirs, such as a mug and 1225 collector's item. One of the classes, the Cocoa Class, gives passengers access to unlimited hot chocolate while the Caboose Class allows the passengers to ride in their own private caboose with their own private Conductor.