Visit Village of Ashley Country Christmas: Michigan’s North Pole Express Stop

Celebrate a Christmas party of days gone by and see the Pere Marquette 1225 steam locomotive bring North Pole Express passengers to the Village of Ashley for a 2-hour layover. Two times a day, each Saturday & Sunday, from November 20 – December 19. The North Pole Express arrival times are scheduled forn11:00am and 7:00pm.

Come join in the fun, Ashley Country Christmas is for kids of all ages.

All Ashley Country Christmas guests can enjoy visiting Santa Claus, entertainment, games, shopping, food, and much more! Guests can arrive by train, motor car, farm tractor or pickup truck, skis, snowshoes, bicycle or sleigh! Guests arriving via North Pole Express will use their train ticket for entry into attractions and entertainment, such as face painting and visit with Santa. Guests who arrive by other means (and do not have a train ticket) purchase a $5 entry sticker to be worn on their coat. Entry stickers can be purchased on site at the Information Center for each person over 3 years of age. Most parking is in the school parking lot 2 blocks away or on the street.


History

A little history – the Village of Ashley, was once a hub for railroad activity. The massive 1225 steam locomotive was built in 1941 to haul heavy freight loads, today it is used as the North Pole Express. Based off the mid 1950’s Polar Express movie. Visitors enjoy the antique cars park along the colorfully lit streets and horse drawn wagons carrying passengers, with characters and hobo camps straight out of the Great Depression era. Dressing in 1940’s & 1950’s styles, your Christmas jammies or best ugly sweater, is always encouraged, as many guests and volunteers do. For more history, visit the Ashley History Museum.


A “where is everything” information brochure with locations of eateries, shopping, entertainment, activities, and best of all – Santa Claus!

Activities

Be ready for a fun, fast paced two hours leading up to the First Gift of Christmas presentation. A great way to plan for your visit is to decide what the most important items, for you and your family. Note where those are on the map, then visit your “must do” areas first, and plan around them. Please note open hours and the North Pole Express train schedule.

Bring your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers for a visit. Great for gift shopping, eateries, activities, entertainment, and of course, the show stopping 1941 PM 1225 Steam Locomotive carrying all the joyful guests upon the North Pole Express!

Each weekend Santa chooses elves to visit Ashley Country Christmas with him. The elves are energized and ready (rain or shine) to assist guests around various activities.

Take time for a carousel ride, so popular in the 1940s & 1950s amusement parks. Enjoy old fashion carnival games and watch a magic show at Santa’s Workshop.

Youngsters can write and post a letter to Santa in an antique Post Office, and hand this very important piece of mail directly to the Postmaster for a special stamp.


Important to Note

There are two heated tents for eating and warming up, but an umbrella could be useful and dressing warm for cold weather is highly suggested in order to fully enjoy being outdoors and walking between attractions, shops, and entertainment.

Be sure to carry cash and coins, as many shops accept cards but several are cash only.

Before the train pulls into the village, partitions will be placed at a safe distance in preparation for the steam engines arrival. Fire and safety personnel are always on hand and nearby.

Upon arrival, the train cuts through the middle of downtown will stop to depart and stops to depart, temporarily blocking anyone from crossing to the other side. If you are planning to meet up with anyone, it is important to be sure you know which side of the tracks you will meet, as you may be separated until the North Pole Express has de-boarded and moved to its parked position. **Where you will find THE BEST PHOTO OPP**


The train tracks divide Ashley Country Christmas in half – and I’ll let you in on a little secret… there is no wrong side of the tracks!

On the south side of the tracks:

SHOPS – Czech Bakery, Elba Sweet Stop & Souvenir Shop, Information Center & Lost and Found, Lori’s Treasures, Oak Street Market, Penny Lane, The Lattice Company

EATERIES & SNACKS – AT Concessions, Hobo Kitchen, Shepler’s Pretzels, Specialty Popped Kettle Corn, plus eating/warming tent

ACTIVITIES – Amusement rides for younger kids ($), antique Post Office to write a letter to Santa, crafts for kids, Holiday Fright ($), Horse drawn wagon rides ($), photo op areas, pin your hometown on the map with Papa Elf, street entertainment, street games for all ages.

On the North side of the tracks:

SHOPPING – Annie & Friends Creations, Christmas Marketplace, Earthen Craft Pottery, Santa’s Workshop, Tralee Irish Imports Market

EATERIES & SNACKS – Ashley Community Schools, Brown’s Elephant Ears, London Broil, Whistle Stop Cafe, plus an eating/ warming tent

ACTIVITIES – Add your bell to the big tree, 1940’s & 50’s type amusement rides ($), balloon artist & face painting, caricature artist ($), First Gift of Christmas, kid’s vintage carnival games, petting farm animals, photo op locations including with the 1225, pony rides ($), Santa & Mrs. Claus, Santa’s Workshop ($), stage entertainment and street games.


Shopping

You’ll find gift selections galore, or maybe you’re shopping for yourself! It’s all good, either way you’re supporting small, family-owned businesses.

No matter how you travel to Ashley Country Christmas, remember you can gift shop, dine and support small businesses. Christmas Marketplace including the Christmas barns, Oak Street Market, and downtown shops have a great selection of gifts!

Downtown shops and pop-ups, featured with their map location number:

  • #35 Lori’s Treasures: Did you know you can watch Tara weave her rugs with a hand operated loom while you shop? Find your favorite Paparazzi bling here, too.
  • #1 Penny Lane: handcrafted wearables, decor & more.
  • #7 The Lattice Company: home accent decor & gifts.
  • #9 Elba Sweet Shop & Souvenir Stop: Country Christmas Souvenirs & sweets.
  • #11 Czech Bakery: Garnet jewelry, Czech recipe cookbooks plus pastries.
  • #23 Annie & Friends Creations: handcrafted gifts, toys, wearables.
  • #23 Santa’s Workshop: wooden toys to make or buy, themed clocks & more.

Now it’s time for Christmas Marketplace, located inside the Ashley Community Center #26:

  • Happy Goat Lucky Ewe: home grown Merino woolens, upcycled mittens, yarn, hand felted ornaments
  • Cupcakes & Kisses: specialty cupcakes and bakery, how about those macarons.
  • Xowen Farms: bath bombs, snow globe, soaps & more body products, custom t-shirts & tumblers.
  • MI Lavender Patch Farms: home grown dried lavender, soaps, lavender infused and filled products.

Christmas barns #16 & #17 on the brochure map.

  • #16 Earthen Craft Pottery: unique decorative gnomes and trees, pottery, tiles, jewelry.
  • #17 Tralee Irish Imports: handcrafted framed photographs, Irish foods, & all things Irish gifts.

Oak Street Market, #14 (white building west of the North Pole sign post) is full of goodies for gifts, to take to holiday gatherings, and to keep you fueled up through a day of shopping. The Oak Street Market brings you:

  • Astro-Snacks: freeze dried candies.
  • Crystal Mitchell: tasty specialty breads playfully wrapped & handmade candies.
  • Cinnamon Nuts & More: yummy cinnamon nuts roasted here, nostalgic candies & gifts.
  • Paradise in the Pines: purely delicious & pure local honey gift jars, beeswax creations, pebble & wood burned art.

Eateries & Snacks

All eateries are prepared for fast pace orders and get food ready in a flash. No need to miss out on meals or snacks!

Hobo Kitchen, #13:  ​Potato soup, chicken noodle soup, chicken and dumpling soup, vegetarian and gluten free soup, Koegel hot dogs with option for gluten free buns, punch, hot chocolate, coffee, cappuccino and bottled water. 

The Ashley Fire & Rescue Department, firefighters and their family members have fun playing hobos and operating the Hobo Kitchen an eatery with soups & more, and kids meals include a wooden train toy. Hobo Kitchen profits have allowed purchases that aren’t otherwise funded for a volunteer fire & rescue department. Such as an Auto-Pulse ‘automatic CPR’ machine to use in rescue responses, and new turnout gear so firefighters are safer during fire responses.

Whistle Stop Cafe, #29: chili cheese fries, loaded fries, chili, pulled pork, chicken nuggets, cookies, hot cider, coffee, hot chocolate, soda. 

Schall’s Burger Barn, #32: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hotdogs, corndogs, chicken nuggets, bean soup, hot chocolate, chips.

Food Trucks

  • AT Concessions, #6: Burgers, hotdogs, brats, pork sandwich, nachos, chicken tender basket, fries, onion rings. 
  • London Broil, #25: Steak sandwich, chicken pita, polish sausage, Salad, hamburger, cheeseburger, pork rinds, nachos, corn dogs, mini doughnuts, Belgian waffles. 
  • Shepler’s Pretzels: baked soft pretzels with mustard or cheese dip
  • Brown’s Elephant Ears: deep fried treats.

Other Sweet treats and snacks – Life is short, eat dessert first!

  • Ashley Community Schools – cotton candy
  • Astro-Snacks – freeze dried candies
  • Cinnamon Nuts & More – cinnamon roasted almonds, pecans & cashews
  • Cupcakes & Kisses – specialty cupcakes, pumpkin rolls, cookies, bakery
  • Crystal Mitchell – fudge and candies, specialty quick breads, fruit tarts
  • Czech Bakery – traditional recipe Czech pastries
  • Specialty Popped Kettle Corn – traditional sweet & salty, caramel, movie butter flavors
  • The Sweet Shop – candies, baked goods

Please be kind and considerate while you’re a guest. In accordance with CDC, state, and local health guidance, wearing a mask is recommended while indoors, wash/sanitize your hands, keep a reindeer distance between different family groups, and please stay home if you’re not feeling well. To assist in having clean hands, there are hand sanitizer stations as well as the restrooms around the Country Christmas area. This guidance is subject to change upon advisement of the Health Department.

4 thoughts on “Visit Village of Ashley Country Christmas: Michigan’s North Pole Express Stop

  1. Lynn Schulz says:

    Thank you for the wonderful article about our little town and the North Pole Express. We appreciate all the people who enjoy their visit.

    Like

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