All Aboard: Holiday Family Fun with Trains and Much, Much More
At the New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx, New York
By: Ellis Nassour
New York’s famed Botanical Garden is celebrating the 22nd Anniversary of its Holiday Train Show. Trains, nature-fabricated landmarks, and the breathtaking fauna in the Enid Haupt Conservatory Victorian glasshouse provide a colorful and exciting eyeful of holiday family entertainment.
Over 20 large-scale model railway trains and trolleys from the late 1800s to modern freight and high-speed passenger trains traverse a quarter-mile track across rustic bridges, trestles, through tunnels, and past waterfalls that cascade into flowing creeks. Trains are G-gauge, measuring more than two feet long and weighing as much as 10 pounds.
Amid the glow of twinkling lights and the festive holiday tree, there’re replicas of New York landmarks, crafted by Paul Busse and Applied Imagination, of natural materials such as bark, fruit, seeds, and pine cones. The original and magnificent Beau Arts Pennsylvania Station, Yankee Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, and hundreds of others are along train routes. A special attraction is Thomas, the Tank Engine and other treasures loved by children
Activities include The Artist’s Studio, showing how the replicas are constructed along with trains made of plant materials running on separate tracks; the educational Holiday Adventures in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden with train parades and arts and crafts at Ralph Lee’s Artist Station [11 A.M. – 5 P.M.]; and, January 1 – 26, performances of All Aboard with Thomas & Friends.
"Kids" quite a bit older can enjoy complimentary cocktails, purchase seasonal refreshments, and ice-sculpting demonstrations on Bar Car Nights in the Streets of New York Holiday Dining Pavilion on December 14, 20, and 21. 7 -10 p.m. Tickets are Non-$30; $20, NYBG members. Purchase at www.nybg.org.
Non-member All- Garden Access tickets for the Holiday Train Show are weekdays: $20; $18 seniors/students; $10, children (2-12); weekends: $25; $22, seniors/students; $15 children. New York Botanical Garden hours are 1:30-5:30 P.M., weekdays; 10 A.M.-5:30, weekends and December 23-January 1. For exact details on daily activities and to purchase timed visits, check website.
At Grand Central Station
The 12th Annual Holiday Train Show at Grand Central is making rounds through February 23 at the Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store, with a Lionel model train layout and whimsical artwork by Maira Kalman, author and illustrator of Next Stop Grand Central. Admission is free.
The 34` O-Gauge layout features a limited-edition model of Grand Central Terminal (only 250 created) and eight loop tracks on which vintage trains rumble and tiny pedestrians stroll miniature streets. Trains transverse through the City, head into the country, and up to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole.
Transit fans will find themed gifts, including NYC Clean Air Bus models with push-and-go friction motors and "Metro Girl" fitted tees for ages six to10, and memorabilia at the Transit Museum Store. Purchase online at www.transitmuseumstore.com.
Kids can enjoy a free Grand Central Terminal Scavenger Hunt and self-guided tour in the Museum Store. Completed hunts may be redeemed for one free child’s admission to the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn, valid through March 31, 2014.
The location is the shuttle passage off the main concourse. For more information, call (212) 878-0106. The show runs through December 24 hours are Monday – Friday, 8 A.M. – 8 P.M.; Saturdays, 10 A.M. – 8 P.M.; Sundays, 10 A.M. – 7 P.M. Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Holiday Train Show is supported, by Lionel, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts.
While in Grand Central Station:
Catch the new state-of-the-art Centennial Holiday Light Show, created by lighting designer Michiru Tanaka and presented by Metro North and Toshiba, in the three monumental windows and 118 panes above the Terminal’s west balcony, daily through December 26, with 30-minute shows from
5 – 11 P.M. Each half hour comprises four parts, including holiday- and train-inspired segments.
For more information, visit www.grandcentralterminal.com/events.