There’s more to Lapland than Father Christmas

Taking the children to see Father Christmas in Finnish Lapland can be a good way to introduce them to the joys of travel and of experiencing other cultures.

The most popular location for the Santa short break is the “official” Santa village of Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle, but if you want to be away from the crowds and day trippers you could also visit Levi or Yllas, further north.

Lapland has a seven-month winter and snow is guaranteed so there are plenty of opportunities for snow-based activities and sports as well as the possibility of seeing the famous Northern Lights if you are lucky.

In the depths of winter there is only around five hours of daylight and it can be intensely cold, so it’s important to makes sure you take suitable, warm clothing. It is also possible to hire thermal suits while you are there. Also if you plan to include any winter sports, such as snowboarding in your trip make sure to check you have proper insurance cover.

There are plenty of things you can do that are a little less active. If you have always wanted to go on a reindeer-pulled sleigh ride, this is the perfect location. Imagine being wrapped up in furs and travelling along snowy forest tracks – on a magical, smooth and quiet ride. Since the Laps depend on reindeer-pulled transport there may also be the possibility of visiting a reindeer farm.  Or perhaps you fancy a short taste of a ride in a husky-pulled dog sleigh?

Or perhaps the idea of a snowmobile safari to see the northern lights with an overnight stay in a log cabin or glass-ceilinged igloo appeals?

So what is the traditional Finnish Christmas like?

If the idea of spending Christmas away from home appeals perhaps you could extend your Santa visit to enjoy a hospitable, friendly Christmas and with plenty of food!

As elsewhere the traditional three-day holiday begins on Christmas Eve, which in Lapland is the most important day of the festival.  The traditional breakfast to start the day is rice pudding!

Christmas dinner is likely to be roast pork, served with a variety of fish, casseroles and salads.

Christmas Eve night is when Father Christmas visits and the evening is usually spent with family, decorating the tree, drinking “glögi” (mulled wine) and bathing in a Christmas sauna. Many families finish the night with a visit to Midnight Mass.

Christmas day is the time to visit friends and eat the leftovers from the previous day then Boxing Day is for partying in the bars and clubs!

And to make it truly special it’s certain to be a white Christmas.