Pullen Park entry arch decorated for holidays.

Holiday Express

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Holiday Express Event Information Holiday Express 2023 Ticketing Update Sensory Friendly Event Information Holiday Express Parking Know Before You Go Event Sponsors Volunteer

Please note Holiday Express is canceled for December 10. If you are a current ticket holder please watch your email for information on rescheduling. 

From Nov. 29 to Dec. 19, Pullen Amusements will be closed. The park grounds will be open until 4 p.m. each event day. No picnic shelters will be available.

Holiday Express Event Information

Event Dates: November 29 – December 15
Times: 5 - 9:30 p.m.

  • Your ticket grants you entry into the event starting at 5 p.m.
  • Please arrive at the train station 15 minutes earlier than your scheduled train time.
  • View the 2023 Holiday Express Map
colorful holiday lights reflecting off trees

Holiday Express 2023 Ticketing Update

  • Holiday Express Payment Instructions for Patrons with Accounts
  • Holiday Express Payment Instructions for Guest Transactions
  • Holiday Express ticket sales will utilize a virtual queue. The virtual queue opens at 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 4 and can be accessed by going directly to RecLink.
  • When ticket sales open at 9 a.m. on Oct. 4, all guests in the queue will be randomized and placed into line.
  • All guests arriving at the website after 9 a.m. will be placed at the end of the queue.
  • If you lose access to the site at any time, please re-enter the queue by going to RecLink.
  • Tickets are limited to 8 per household/credit card/IP Address. Any guests who have purchased more than 8 tickets may have all the tickets canceled.
  • Tickets are $16 plus tax per guest and are non-refundable, but they are transferrable. Please note transferrable between guests, not transferrable between nights. Tickets may not be sold for more than face value. Tickets are required for all guests ages one and older (12 months and under, no ticket required.).
  • The train time you purchase is the time you are required to ride. If you miss your train time, you may attempt to ride standby starting at 8:30 p.m. Requests for changes to train times cannot be honored. Please arrive at the train station 15 minutes earlier than your scheduled train time.
  • Tickets (barcode) will be emailed to the email address you provided. If you do not see it, please check your SPAM folder, the email will come from Raleigh Parks.  
  • For information about the event or specific ticketing questions, call 919-996-6468 or email HolidayExpress@Raleighnc.gov.

The resale of admission tickets for Holiday Express at Pullen Park is limited in accordance with the certification from the Secretary of State of North Carolina.

the holiday express train coming out of a tunnel

Sensory Friendly Event Information

Event Date: December 9

Times: 3 - 5 p.m.

New this year, a Sensory Friendly Event. This event is designed to create a more enjoyable atmosphere for individuals with sensory needs. This Sensory Friendly Event will include lower decibel music, decreased capacity to provide more space between crowds, no strobe lights, as well as access to a quiet area to decompress from sensory overload. While you will be enjoying our holiday lights during daylight hours, there will be some lights that have easy or slow movements. Sensory bags with headphones, fidgets, and additional supplies will be available.

Your ticket grants you entry at 3 p.m.

Please arrive at the train station 15 minutes earlier than your scheduled train time. 

pullen park with Santa being escorted by helpers

Holiday Express Parking

  • Main parking for Holiday Express will be free and located at the Coliseum Parking Deck on the NC State University Campus.
  • The deck can be accessed via Western Boulevard in either direction by heading towards Pullen Road and then turning onto Dunn Ave.

    Please note that sections of the deck may be unavailable, and you should abide by the signage posted.
  • This location is a short walk from the back of Pullen Park where the event entrance is located.
  • Accessible parking and spaces for those with mobility needs are available at the Pullen Park lot located at 520 Ashe Avenue.
  • Rideshare/drop off should enter the Pullen Park lot located at 520 Ashe Avenue and then make a left towards the main entrance.
  • Other vehicles may be turned away at this location.

Coliseum Deck Free Parking Permit Instructions

*Available Starting Wednesday, Nov. 22

  1. Visit Go.ncsu.edu/EventParking
  2. Ensure you are logged out of your parking account. 
  3. Select "Purchase Event Permit" 
  4. Agree to the Terms of Service
  5. Select “General Events”
  6. Select Pullen Park Holiday Express 2023.
  7. When prompted, enter HolidayExpress the Event Voucher Code. The code is case-sensitive and must be entered exactly as shown. Select Apply Voucher.
  8. Select an available Permit Type (this will populate above the voucher code field). 
  9. Select/Confirm your parking dates. Select Confirm.
  10. Select the Location
  11. Select "Add Vehicle". Enter vehicle license plate, state, year, make, and model. Review the information entered for accuracy and select Add.
  12. Enter your name and phone number. Select Confirm.
  13. Select Continue.
  14. Enter your email address.
  15. Review information. Select Checkout.

Remember, the permit is virtual, your license plate is your permit. A permit is valid only for the vehicle entered. A permit is not valid in pay-by-plate locations.

Do not back in or pull through to park without a front plate. The License Plate must face the traffic lane.

Are you driving a rental car? If so, please wait to obtain your parking permit until after you have received your rental car. Vehicle license plates cannot be changed once entered. You must obtain your parking permit before leaving your vehicle unattended on campus.

 For assistance, please call the Transportation Office at 919-515-3424.

directional signs at holiday express

Know Before You Go

This is an outdoor event – please dress accordingly. Indoor space will not be available for guests. We will operate in light rain and/or snow.

Your ticket provides you access to all activities starting at 5 p.m. The gift shop and snacks will have additional costs.

View the 2023 Holiday Express Map
There are large maps available at each entrance. Please use your digital device to take a picture of the map. Activities will take place in the upper shelter area as well as the lower amusement area.

Holiday Highway
New this year! Join us for a stroll around the lake and remember some of our best holidays of the year. You will ring in the New Year as you enter the Holidays Highway, take a selfie with a cupid or a leprechaun. Enjoy the flowers and bunnies before walking through our patriotic tunnel. Can’t forget our summer days and scary treats! Remember to be thankful and finish out with winter memories and a photo to keep. (This will be emailed to you after your adventure with us.) This stroll will wrap up with a walk through our igloo.          

Train Ride
Your designated ride time is located on your event ticket. Arrive at the train station 15 minutes prior to departure and show your entire group of tickets to the staff. Three guests maximum to a seat, including children and infants.

Please arrive on time for your train ride. Anyone who misses their ride or is attempting to ride standby can attempt to do so starting at 8:30 p.m. Earlier requests will not be accommodated.

Santa’s Toy Shop
Santa has transformed our caboose into a mobile workshop where he’s been storing some of the toys, the elves have finished. In addition, it’s become his home away from home while he’s in Raleigh! Stop by for a walk-through experience where you might even be able to see the big man himself! Due to the popularity of this experience, traditional sit-down photo opportunities will not be available, but you will likely have time for a brief chat and maybe even a selfie for the digital scrapbook.

Please not that this experience may be modified or removed due to circumstances beyond our control. 

The Pullen Cafe offers a variety of options for all guests, including those with dietary restrictions and/or allergies so everyone in the family can enjoy something. Additionally, Santa’s Snack Shack will be in the Shelter area to offer an assortment of Holiday treats. For more information about Pullen Café or to see this year’s Holiday Express menu, visit www.PullenCafe.com or call 919-803-0030.

S'more Station
Enjoy a delicious free treat and learn about holiday fire safety from the Raleigh Fire Department.

Lions, tigers, and REINDEER, oh my! Choose your favorite animal and enjoy unlimited rides on the historic Dentzel carousel.

Candy Cane Lane
Visit the crafty elves and create your own souvenir to bring home with you. While you’re up there, don’t forget to make a bag of reindeer food to bring home for the nine highflyers on their big night. Have you written your letter to Santa yet? Whether you have or not, stop by the post office and take some time to write your letter or drop the one you brought from home into the mailbox. New this year, we have some candy-themed inflatables and/or games that you certainly want to explore before you head down into the park. Don’t forget, Santa’s Snacks will be in the area if you wish to sit for a break with a yummy treat!

Yeti Hunt
We need YOU to help find the family of Yetis that are loose in the park. Stop by our Yeti Hunt station to receive your hunt game sheet. Be sure to drop off your sheet for a surprise.

For an additional hint on where to find the Yetis, be sure to take a picture of our map at the entrances!

Gift Shop/Welcome Center
If you have any issues or emergencies, stop by the welcome center for immediate assistance.

This is also the spot for fun-themed merchandise, including our limited-edition carousel ornament from the Charleston Mint! This year’s ornament is the carousel cat which will cost $15.

Sensory bags with headphones, fidgets, and additional supplies will be available.

Gingerbread Grove
Experience our 27-foot-tall gingerbread slide, our Hansel and Gretel’s Great Escape, as well as some fun games like the Gingerbread Jam.

Arctic Avenue
Visit this frosty playground where you can participate in a variety of games and activities like the Frosty Fling and the Penguin Escape!

Get your dancing shoes on for our Blizzard Boogie with an assortment of games, prizes, and our always-poplar snowball fight!

Rotary Snow Globe Experience
Step inside a giant snow globe for a spectacular photo opportunity! This space will be shared with multiple families and no private options will be available.

Inclement Weather Plan
In the case of severe weather (rain with extremely wet conditions, high winds and/or lightning, extremely cold conditions with ice and/or snow), Holiday Express may be canceled. Weather conditions are evaluated on a daily basis. Event cancellations will be made by noon. on the day of the event. Registered guests will be notified by email and information will be posted on the website. In the case of an event cancellation, guests may attend a designated rain date.

2023 Rain Dates: Dec. 16, 17, 18 and 19

All sales are final, and no refunds will be provided. Tickets are transferable via email or text message but may not be sold for more than face value. Tickets will retain the information of the original guest who purchased the tickets. Questions regarding extenuating circumstances may be emailed to: holidayexpress@raleighnc.gov

Event Sponsors

The City of Raleigh and the Rotary Club of Crabtree would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous contributions to Holiday Express 2023:

Carousel Sponsor
WRAL/Capitol Broadcasting Company    

Johnson Lexus

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
Empire Properties
The UnIntentionals
Raleigh Picnic Co.

Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC
York Properties, Inc
North State Bank

Santa's Helpers
GMH Realty, LLC    
SJ Adams Inc.    
Triangle on the Cheap Dot Com / Mace Publishing, LLC
Kane Realty Corporation    

For more information on becoming a sponsor of Holiday Express, please email HolidayExpress@Raleighnc.gov.


Help Host Holiday Express by Volunteering

Raleigh Parks needs your help to host our biggest event of the year! We are recruiting 550 volunteers this year to help with mailing letters at Santa’s post office, mixing reindeer food, carnival games, and more! Help us make each night special for our visitors by adding some holiday cheer. Evening shifts are available from Nov.29 - Dec. 19. Spots are first come, first served. Group contacts should email Rachel Van Noordt at rachel.vannoordt@raleighnc.gov to reserve slots.

Volunteer at Holiday Express
Volunteer at Sensory-Friendly Holiday Express Day


Lead Department:
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Service Categories:
Parks ProgramsParks

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