THE Watercress Line has announced its 2019 events programme, featuring annual family favourites, behind the scenes tours and two jam-packed steam galas.

Here we list five of the best steam-powered family-friendly events to look forward to on the Mid Hants Railway in 2019:

* Kicking off the family event programme on April 13, the world’s favourite little blue tank engine will once again chuff into town for ten days for the heritage railway’s hugely popular Day Out With Thomas event.

From April 13-22 and August 3-11, visitors will have the chance to meet Thomas and his friends, shake hands with The Fat Controller, and enjoy unlimited trips behind the famous engine as well as Thomas-themed activities at the Imagination Station, including entertainment by Rusty and Dusty.

* Budding witches and wizards are encouraged to put on their cloaks and pick up their broomsticks for a day of magic and mischief when Wizard Weekend returns on October 26-27, featuring a plethora of spellbinding performances and activities, hooting owls and creepy crawlies.

* The Watercress Line’s annual War on the Line will be returning on June 15-16 to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, transporting visitors back in time to the 1940s to experience the ‘Blitz Spirit’ against the backdrop of a Second World War railway.

* Adding some festive cheer to its event programme is the Watercress Line’s family-friendly Santa Specials, from November 30 and on various dates throughout December. Visitors will be able to enjoy a magical trip with Santa and his jolly helpers in a festive train carriage.

* This will be followed by Christmas Leave on December 26-27. Come along and join civilian and military re-enactors and experience the atmosphere of a Second World War Christmas on the railway.

Woodies Mountford, marketing manager at the Watercress Line, said: “I am delighted to announce our events programme for 2019, which includes the return of Day Out With Thomas, Wizard Weekend and Santa Specials – all highlights for many families in and around Hampshire.

“From family favourites, to behind the scenes tours, to our standard travel experience and activities for visitors, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the Watercress Line in 2019.”

There will be further opportunities throughout the year for visitors to go behind the scenes at the Watercress Line, view current restoration projects at Ropley, and explore the yard and the engineering shed and carriage shop viewing galleries. These include two steam galas on March 8-10 and October 18-20 and an open weekend on September 14-15, which is free to members.

Visitors will also be able to experience the railway from a completely different view as well as play an important part in securing its future when the Watercress Line’s annual sponsored event Walk the Line returns on November 9, after raising more than £15,000 at last year’s event.

Further adding to visitors’ experiences, new interpretation panels will be installed in the first half of 2019. Plus, children aged four and under can now travel for free on the Watercress Line’s standard service, as part of its scheme to encourage love and enthusiasm for heritage railway at a younger age.

From last month, children aged four and under are also now able to travel for free on the Watercress Line’s standard service.

For more information, including upcoming events, visit