With our eldest son Thomas recently progressing to Junior School, my wife and I decided to take him to see Santa in Lapland to experience the magic this country has to offer.
I booked flights to Rovaniemi in Finland with Easyjet, returning with Norwegian Air. Here I made a mistake, confusing Gatwick with the easier to drive to Heathrow meaning a rather long journey down to the airport (typical northerner). We booked to have four full days in Lapland travelling a day either side, staying in an apartment in Rovaniemi City Centre. Although we didn’t go down the usual route of staying in a log cabin in the woods, our apartment was great value for money and even came with its own sauna and Netflix; much to the delight of our son.
In preparation for the cold we bought thermals from Chesterfield market, my wife bought some good quality boots from Bakewell and I made do with my trusty Rockports from the 90’s. A friend gave us clothes and boots for Thomas and we were all set.
We gave Thomas a letter from Santa the day before departure inviting him to go visit and meet the Elves in Lapland, this resulted in one very excited little boy.
Day 1: We went to the Santa Claus Village on the Santa Express. Here we went on a short huskie sleigh ride through the snowy woods, stopping to meet all of the dogs. We cosied up for a magical reindeer sleigh ride and Thomas enjoyed racing around the children’s snow mobile track making his Mum somewhat nervous as he sped past the other boys and girls. There were lots of shops and places to eat, plus the chance to meet Santa, however you were unable to take personal photos so we decided to wait and see Santa the next day at Santa Park instead which had had some great reviews.
Day 2: We went to the Santa Park, again using the Santa Express. Santa Park is an impressive underground cavern where the magic starts as soon as you arrive.One of Santa’s Elves met us at the cave entrance, and we went on to meet Santa, take parts in arts and crafts activities and then attend an elf training school where we became qualified elves! There was an excellent stage show, a fun adventure ride, an ice bar with ice sculptures, a tunnel under the Arctic circle plus many other fun attractions.
Day 3: By the third day we were feeling we had not really had the outdoor Lapland experience yet and so we decided to push the boat out, with the help of tourist information centre we booked a snow mobile two hour experience. This was absolutely amazing, Thomas was sat with the instructor and with my wife Sherie and I followed on our own snow mobile, taking it in turns to drive through the forest was thrilling and amazing, we even caught a glimpse of wild reindeer running in the snow.
Day 4: Having experienced the snow mobiles yesterday, we felt the huskie ride at the Santa Village was not the true experience, so again the credit card took a hammering and we booked a three hour huskie driving experience with the same company as the day before. We were led by Rovaniemi’ s oldest musher, (he owned and raced huskies in many competitions throughout the year) leading the way on a snowmobile while Sherie and I took it in turns to drive the dogs and Thomas sat in the sled. In the evening we went Northern Lights hunting, not far away is a frozen river which has limited light pollution to increase your chances of spotting them, we walked down and were joined by a tour also hunting the lights, did we see them, we are not sure, we saw something but who knows?
Top tips to offer from my experiences; firstly fly from Manchester if you want to stay in your wife’s good books! Secondly, I would book a set of activities before you go and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if using the same company for several different activities. And finally, if you are going it alone like we did rather than going with a package holiday, buy your winter clothes in the UK as it’s far cheaper than hiring clothes in Finland and you can use them over again.
Seeing Santa in Lapland was amazing but the final two days made the break
unforgettable. Riding the snow mobiles and racing the huskies through the Finnish forests is a memory my family and I will treasure for life.
Words & images: John Willacy