Polar Bear Express
Advanced, date-specific tickets required. only valid for date purchased.
- Adult: $28
- Child (3-12 years): $22
- Toddler (Under 3 years): $10
Polar Bear Express tickets are only sold online and must be purchased in advance.
Dec. 5 | Dec. 6 | Dec. 12 | Dec. 13 | Dec. 17 (Adults only night) | Dec. 18 | Dec. 19 | Dec. 20 | Dec. 21 | Dec. 22 | Dec. 23 | Dec. 30 (Adults only night)
Tickets are date specific and only valid for the date purchased.
Polar Bear Express
Hop aboard the Rio Line Train's Polar Bear Express for a nighttime ride with Santa to a glittering world of holiday enchantment.
The Polar Bear Express includes admission to River of Lights. These events are fundraisers that benefit the Zoo, Botanic Garden, Tingley Beach and Aquarium.
- Hot cocoa and sweet treat upon boarding
- Enchanting story as the train rolls on
- Travel the rails to meet Santa
- Santa presents every child & toddler with a souvenir gift
- Final Stop admission to River of Lights
- 5 p.m. – Arrival
- 5:15 p.m. – Train Boarding
- 5:30 p.m. – Train Leaves Station
Adults-Only Happy Hour
This year we will be offering a special adults-only "happy hour" night on Dec. 17 and Dec 30. Both include the train and entry that evening into River of Lights.
On Dec. 17, two options are available:
- Polar Bear Express Night for adults will include an adult hot chocolate and sweet churro. Tickets are $35 ea.
- Date Night for adults, includes the above as well as dinner at the Shark Reef with an amazing view of the Aquarium. Tickets are $115 per couple.
- New Mexico shrimp and scallop ceviche with crispy tortilla strips
- Grilled duck breast lettuce wrap with fig blueberry sauce and pickled sweet peppers
- Edamame hummus with pita and fresh veggies
- Shrimp bisque with sesame crouton
- Butternut squash bisque
- Green tea brined Cornish hen with lemon rosemary compound butter, sweet potato mash, grilled asparagus
- Slow roasted espresso rubbed prime rib with au jus and horseradish, roasted rosemary red potatoes, grilled asparagus
- Seared salmon fillet with spinach and mint pesto and heirloom tomatoes over angel hair pasta, grilled asparagus
- Grilled Portobello mushroom stuffed with sun dried tomato, spinach and feta, grilled asparagus
- Ice cream nachos with cinnamon sugar tortilla bowl, chocolate and caramel sauces, jelly beans
- Fresh baked warm brownie with salted caramel ice cream and strawberry sauce
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I purchase Polar Bear Express tickets online?
- May I purchase tickets by phone or in-person?
- Will Polar Bear Express sell out?
- Does an infant need a ticket?
- What are the ticket restrictions?
- What happens after I purchase tickets online?
- What are the ticket policies (printer or email problems, forgotten tickets, online security)?
Event & Passenger Info
- What is the Polar Bear Express?
- What happens on the train?
- How long is the train ride?
- What are the seating arrangements?
- Are there restrooms on the train?
- Can I bring my stroller on the train?
- Is the train wheelchair accessible?
- Is storage available for personal items?
Traffic, Parking & Boarding Instructions
- Will there be traffic delays?
- Where do I park?
- Is there an additional cost for parking?
- Where do I board?
- How do I get to the train station from the parking lot?
Dress & Weather
Tickets MUST be purchased in advance and are only available online.
NOTE: There is no service charge(s) to purchase tickets online.
Polar Bear Express tickets are not sold by phone or in person. Tickets are only available online and must be purchased in advance.
Polar Bear Express is an extremely popular event and will most likely sell out. If you plan on attending with friends and family, we recommend purchasing tickets for your entire group, via one transaction.
If tickets are not available for a selected date, choose another date for ticket availability.
Visitors who arrive at the train station without tickets will not be able to ride the Polar Bear Express.
Every passenger is required to have a ticket. Ticket prices are:
- Children (Ages 3-12) - $22
- Toddlers *Younger than 3) - $10
You must have a valid email address, Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express credit card, Internet access, and printer to purchase tickets online.
All sales are final. Polar Bear Express tickets are date specific and only valid for the date purchased.
Expired tickets have no value and are not eligible for refunds, reissue, rain-checks or upgrades.
We recommend one adult for every four to five kids.
Seating is General Admission, on a first-come, first-served basis, with a 20 person per-car capacity. We cannot guarantee that all parties will be seated together.
You will receive two e-mails with a confirmation and link to a PDF that contains your tickets.
You must bring the printed tickets to the Garden Train Station in order to board the Polar Bear Express. Tickets can only be scanned once.
- Email problems:
Ticket buyers receive two e-mails—a purchase confirmation & a link to the PDF that contains your print-at-home tickets. If you haven't received two e-mails from the BioPark, check your spam or junk mail box.
BioPark e-mails come from an address ending with "@cabq.gov". You may need to add this address to your safe-senders list.
- Printer problems:
If you have problems printing, bring your ticket or purchase confirmation number(s) to the BioPark during regular business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily).
Present numbers and picture ID at the Administration Office to redeem the tickets. Administration Office is closed after hours & during special events.
- Forgotten tickets:
If you forget your tickets, you must provide a picture ID of the ticket buyer and ticket or confirmation number at the Garden Station.
- Online transaction security:
We have partnered with Siriusware to make print-at-home tickets as secure as possible. All credit card information is encrypted before transmission and storage.
Event & Passenger Info
Polar Bear Express is a magical, nighttime experience aboard the Rio Line Train on journey to meet Santa and experience the glow of River of Lights.
- Upon boarding: Passengers are treated to hot cocoa and a cookie.
- En route to meet Santa: Enjoy an enchanting story and holiday music as the train rolls on…
- Santa Stop: Santa and his elves are awaiting your arrival to board the train & will move through each train car to greet each child and toddler and present them with a special souvenir gift. Passengers stay on the train.
- Final Stop: Return at the Garden Station & unload at your final destination, admission into New Mexico's largest, all-original holiday production -- River of Lights.
About 30 minutes, including Santa stop and gift presentation.
All seating is General Admission and limited to 20 passengers per car.
There are no restrooms on the train. Facilities are available for use before and after the train ride and are located in the Garden and Aquarium Plaza. There are also two portable restrooms as you enter the Garden Station lot.
Due to limited space, strollers are not permitted on the train. Strollers may be left at the Garden Train Station during the ride and picked-up after. Though strollers are secure and attended to during your trip, do not leave valuables behind. We are not responsible for theft of damage of items left in strollers.
The Train Station is Wheelchair Accessible BUT can only accommodate a limited number of wheelchairs on the train (three max).
Staff assistance is available to individuals with the ability to transfer to a seat during boarding and unloading.
Wheelchairs may be left at the Garden Train Station during the train ride. Though wheelchairs are secure and attended to during your trip, do not leave valuables behind. We are not responsible for theft of damage of items left in wheelchairs.
If you need to bring a bag, pack a reasonable size that will comfortably fit on your lap or under your seat. The train will be full and does not have sufficient space for oversize items. Polar Bear Express reserves the right to deny boarding of oversized items. Do not leave personal belongings on the train. Take everything with you when exiting the train.
1. Will there be traffic delays?
Depart your home early to avoid traffic delays.
Traffic congestion is expected during the evening commute to River of Lights and parking lots will fill to capacity. It is important that Polar Bear Express attendees plan ahead, arrive early and allow 5 minutes extra to park and walk to the Garden Train Station.
We suggest arriving 30 minutes before departure. Be sure to allow extra travel time for traffic, parking, walking to Train Station and boarding. The train will depart on-time.
Highly impacted areas expected along: Interstate 40, Rio Grande Boulevard, and Central Avenue.
Attendees MUST park in the main, Garden and Aquarium lot - Enter New York Avenue, North of Central.
Allow 5 minutes extra to park and walk to the Garden Train Station.
There is no charge for public parking.
Turn in tickets and board at the Garden and Aquarium Train Station.
From the New York parking lot, walk through the Garden Plaza past the aquarium entrance, into the rear parking lot to access the, clearly identified, Train Station.
Note: Parking is not available in the Train Station lot
Dress & Weather
In addition to River of Lights being outdoors, Polar Bear Express Train cars are not climate controlled. Although cars are enclosed and windows shut, they are partially exposed to weather and wind from the front and back of each car with no heat.
Dress for winter weather. Dress warm and bundle up in layers. Remember, train cars do not have heat and are partially exposed to nighttime winter elements. In addition, River of Lights is an outdoor event.
We do everything in our power to remain open for all event dates.
Trains operate during all weather conditions and we do not give refunds or exchanges to those who are unable to attend their scheduled night due to weather. In the rare case of a cancellation, a notice will be posted at www.RiverOfLights.org.
You also can contact 311 for up-to-date event and ticket information.