In Search of Santa in Finnish Lapland

A blast from the past – this blog was supposed to cover our trips current and past. I never seem to get around to the latter but made an effort with this one – a week in Finnish Lapland, just before Christmas six years ago. Son was old enough to fully take part in all the snowy activities we had lined up but young enough to still be in awe of Father Christmas – the best of both worlds.

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We travelled to what they say is the last wilderness in Europe and the legendary home of Santa Claus. Meeting him here was a dream come true for Son, however that is not the only reason to visit this beautiful region. Tons of snow, actually crossing the Arctic Circle, the chance to see the Northern Lights…. and that’s just for starters.

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Husband and I had been wowed by Lapland a few years prior. We had two skiing holidays here before Son was born and we always wanted to return. So we came back for a week in December, just before Christmas with excitement at fever pitch levels. Long, dark days with just a couple of hours of daylight, this eerie twilight cast an even more magical spell over this snow covered world.

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Needless to say, every minute of this holiday was a highlight, but when pushed to pick a few of our favourite things we were all in agreement.

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First up the snow. Snow everywhere, coming from the UK we rarely get powdery, soft and fluffy snow in abundance which stays around. It was just glorious. We played for hours having snowball fights, making snow angels, building snowmen and then sledging. Son thoroughly approved of a sledge as his new method of getting around.

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A trip across a frozen lake in a sled pulled by six energetic and lively husky dogs was just spellbinding. Thawing out afterwards in a traditional kota with tea and sausages cooked on an open fire was the perfect end to the day.

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We all loved our snowmobile ride through an icy forest at sunset – 2.30 pm. Son rode in a covered sledge, we rode the snowmobile amid the most amazing views and a superb sunset. The whole experience was exhilarating and warming up afterwards at a reindeer farm was a big hit too.

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Meeting Santa Claus in his traditional homeland for Son was unforgettable. We probably loved the whole experience just as much as him if truth be told. We saw the great man twice – once in his secret hideaway deep in the forest and then afterwards at the Santa Park in Rovaniemi – a touristy experience but fun and magical nonetheless.

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This was a holiday with a difference. Son still talks about it despite the fact Santa no longer calls at our house. He would go back in a heartbeat and frequently tells us this. But then so would we….

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73 thoughts on “In Search of Santa in Finnish Lapland

  1. Finland is one of my favourite countries. We, too, have been on ski trips to Lapland, both times we flew to Ivalo and stayed at Saariselka. The twilight and the sunsets are so beautiful, just as your lovely photos are. Thank you for posting. Much nicer than all this English mist and drizzle we’re currently experiencing!

    • Don’t know that area, we’ve only been to this part in winter but I love Finland too – we’ve visited Helsinki at midsummer and that was wonderful. Completely agree about this awful English weather, no end to the rain, give me snow and freezing Lapland temperatures anyday!!!

  2. Aw, I can see what a great time he had from the pictures. I think I’d enjoy all of that except possibly Santa since I stopped believing a few years ago 😉 Know what you mean about writing up past trips – it’s going to be my New Year resolution AGAIN!

    • There are just never enough hours in the week to get around to it Anabel, but I had to make an exception with this one. It’s actually quite nice revisiting old trips as well, we were all just looking at these pictures and reminiscing… trouble is now we want to go back again!!

  3. We should have done Santa! Anyway, Finland was a great memory for us too. We had NEVER seen so much snow ever untill we went to Finland. We were up North in Ivalo trying to catch the Northern Lights and like you, we never saw them the whole time we were there either. Did you try ice fishing?

    • We visited Santa when it was just the two of us as well – still a great experience!! We never got to try ice fishing, lots of things were cancelled at the beginning of this trip as the temperatures got so low!! I would love to do this though, we definitely plan to return sometime to Lapland, it will be on the list!

  4. I love this post Joy!! This is a trip I’d love to do one day – if it wasn’t so far I’d love to take my 2 little granddaughters here too. It is my romantic fantasy view of Christmas – so magical with all the snow and lights twinkling in the twilight! Funnily enough after weeks of warm weather here, it has suddenly gone very cold (by Perth summer standards that is – it may only reach high teens maximum tomorrow shock horror!). So at least I feel a bit more “Christmassy” with unseasonally cooler weather here as a hot Christmas has never felt quite right to me. The husky ride must have been one of the many highlights – can understand why you still talk about this trip! Hope you have had a good week and have a great weekend too 🙂

    • This is like a fantasy Christmas Rosemary and nothing about it disappoints in reality. We loved just everything, from all that snow to seeing Santa and as for the husky ride – that was just superb. It would be a very long way for you and your little granddaughters but never say never!! Glad it is cooling down a little, I can’t imagine what it would be like with a hot Christmas, but then I think it would still be better than the damp, dreary rain and mist we seem to be having constantly here!! Hope your weekend is a great one too.

      • As you say Joy “never say never”! We have already made 1 trip over with our elder daughter, son in law and granddaughter number 1 last year so maybe with a lot of planning one year….! It would be wonderful! Hope the rain and mist abate – I don’t mind dry, cooler weather but when it’s damp and wet I feel chilled to the bone! Perth gets a strong sea breeze most afternoons too so that cools things down even in hot weather. Luckily we live near the coast 🙂

  5. What a wonderful place to spend the holidays. Looks like a winter wonderland! And your son looks so excited to give Santa his letter in that picture.

    • No shovelling at all here!! I know what you mean though, when you have to go about daily life in snow like this, probably not so easy. Arriving for a week though and just having fun, that’s something completely different. It was wonderful.

  6. So glad you dove into the archives for this one – I can share the pictures with my own little people who are very much in the spirit of Christmas! Looks (and sounds) like a dream holiday trip. One day we hope to have a real European Christmas… We have watched the Rick Steeves travel special ten times at least! We are having the same sort of soggy December as you, I imagine, and it never really seems Christmassy unless we get a little bit of snow. Fingers crossed! To get our Santa fix we are tracking his movements with NORAD, and occasionally watching the reindeer feeding online. Amazing how the Internet makes the world so connected! Wishing you all the magic of Christmas…

    • We’ve tracked Santa with NORAD before, our Christmas Eve tradition! We still do it even though our son is beyond Santa 😦 but fun to do anyway. This trip to Lapland was so special, not least because of the snow. Hope your Christmas is a wonderful one too!!

  7. Oh, amazing! What a fun family trip, and to such a beautiful place! I’d love to spend more time north of the Arctic Circle – I went to northern Norway a couple of years ago, but in March so the length of the days wasn’t so different to home. Thanks for this blast from your travelling past… Your photos are the perfect antidote to the not-so-festive weather we’ve been getting here lately! 😀

    • I would love to visit beyond the Arctic Circle again too – we talked about Norway being next on our hit list! I know exactly what you mean about this weather – rain and wind do not do much for the festive spirit!!

      • Oooh, Norway! If you’re going, definitely put Tromsø on your to-visit list… it’s a great little town with plenty to see and do, and the people there were so friendly! Plus you might be lucky enough to catch the Northern Lights there at last…

    • It really was wonderful Kirsten with the snow, Father Christmas and all those fun activities. You’ll have to try a trip in winter sometime!! Hope your Christmas is a magical and wonderful one.

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