FATHER Christmas and his jolly helpers will take residents to a “special journey” across the countryside next month.

The Watercress Line’s highly anticipated Santa Special steam locomotive will chuff into town again.

Families will have the chance to travel across the heart of the countryside in a festive train carriage with Santa and his jolly helpers.

Running from December 1 until Christmas Eve, every child on board will receive a gift from Father Christmas as well as a soft drink, gingerbread man and activity pack to keep them entertained on the one-hour journey, while grown ups will be treated to white wine and mince pies.

Guests of all ages are also asked to bring their very best singing voices to join in with everyone’s favourite Christmas songs.

Woodies Mountford, marketing manager at the Watercress Line, said: “Santa Special is a real highlight for families from Hampshire and beyond at Christmas.

“It’s one of the only Santa experiences where families don’t need to queue, and we love seeing children’s faces light up during the magical trip when Father Christmas visits them in their seats and delivers presents.”

On both December 26 and 27, the festive spirit will continue with the Watercress Line’s popular Christmas Leave, giving visitors the chance to join civilian and military re-enactors.

Alresford and Alton stations will bring together re-enactors and the general public to enjoy live 1940s wartime music and parlour games, steam and seasonal merriment.

Ms Mountford added: “Our popular Christmas Leave is the perfect event to bring your family and guests to after Christmas. Whether this is a trip down memory lane, or a chance to make new memories, it’s enjoyable for everyone.

“We hope everyone will dress up in 40s attire, mingle with re-enactors and embrace the atmosphere at Christmas Leave. It’s as much about reliving this period as enjoying the rush of the steam engine, so be sure to jump on board one of our locomotives to experience the entire event.”

Visitors will also have the chance to pick up Long Barn’s eagerly anticipated limited edition Alresford bauble at the Watercress Line’s gift shop during the Christmas period.

This year it captures the spirit and splendour of the heritage railway’s much loved Santa Special train.

Each bauble has been hand-painted from the inside by local artist Jen Boardman and comes nestled in a green lined covered gift box stamped with the Long Barn Growers & Distillers mark and the Watercress Line logo.

A donation from every sale will go to The Alresford Pigs Association.