There’s a Magical Dinner Party on a Train Through the Catskills and We Need to Be There

If train travel offers nostalgic appeal for some people, for New Yorkers, all the shine has worn off thanks to the daily indignities we suffer at the hands of the subway. (Pretty sure the West Fourth Street lower-level subway platform in the summer is the seventh circle of hell.) But if anything can restore our fondness for traveling by rail, this would be it: an enchanting evening aboard a vintage train that winds through the Catskills. 

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soiree train sunset water
Christian Harder

The second annual Soirée on the Railway (hosted by And North, the gorgeously curated guide to upstate New York)  travels along the Ulster and Delaware Railroad, a now-defunct route that once shuttled thousands of city dwellers through the Catskill Mountains to summer-camp-style resorts (think Dirty Dancing). It’s been nearly 70 years since its last regularly scheduled service, but you can relive that bygone era with a one-night-only journey on the historic tracks, which wind past lush landscapes that aren’t visible from anywhere else.

soiree train people roof trees
Christian Harder

The lavish gathering will take place on a meticulously restored 1940s train, and naturally, passengers are asked to don their finest attire. (We’ve been looking for an excuse to wear that fascinator.) You’ll be treated to a glass of Champagne as the train departs the station at 6:30 p.m. sharp and then spend the next three hours roaming the cars, noshing on Catskills-inspired fare courtesy of Brushland Eating House (founded by a husband-and-wife duo with former ties to NYC’s Prime Meats and the Grocery), enjoying a fully-stocked open bar and listening to live jazz music by the Bee’s Knees.

soiree train side view people lights
Christian Harder

If you’re inclined to make a weekend of it (and you should), be sure to book lodging at one of the area’s many charming inns, an Airbnb rental or one of the event’s partners. And as for getting to the station, Catskill Carriage, a luxury coach operator, will provide special express service between midtown and a handful of Catskills resorts. Tickets are close to selling out, so nab yours before your hopes of an idyllic getaway disappear around the bend. 

We never thought we’d be so excited to step onto a train.

Departs from the Ulster and Delaware Railroad Station, 43510 NY-28, Arkville, NY. August 4 at 6:30 p.m.; $250

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