Imagine visiting a land shrouded in magic, crossing the Arctic Circle to meet the man himself – St Nicholas. Well this exactly where Natalie James, our general manager in Australia, headed with her family – Finland. They made their way to Lapland, home of not only Santa but also the Northern Lights, husky rides, reindeer, and feet upon feet of snow. Here she shares her family adventure in Lapland.
Arriving in Lapland, the children were absolutely delighted with their first experience of snow. There is something amazing and incredibly special about seeing snow for the first time. So there we were at midnight, donning our thermals so the kids could play in this magical white stuff. They were blissfully happy and completely untroubled by the minus 22 temperatures.
On our first morning, we journeyed through the forest to arrive at Ranua Zoo, the world’s northernmost zoo. Exploring the 3 km park trail, we encountered many arctic species. The wildlife spots included owls, eagles, reindeer, wolves, huskies, polar bears and oxen. Surprisingly for such a popular tourist attraction, we had the place to ourselves. It was only when we stopped halfway round for hot chocolate from the ice bar we met another family.
The Big Meet
The second day was the one both the big and small children of our family had been looking forward to the most. Heading to Santa’s village, found in the pine forest of Rovaniemi, the excitement and anticipation was palpable. With thick snow underfoot and twinkling Christmas lights above us, we climbed the stairs and waited.
Then, the moment we’d all been waiting for. Called into his office, we shook Santa’s hand and had a lovely chat about the anticipated gifts. Still in awe, the next stop was Santa Park an underground theme park, ideal for some much needed warm entertainment.
We arrived just in time for an entertaining acrobatic show expertly performed by Santa’s elves. The children were utterly entranced for the entire duration of the show. There were plenty of charming activities to keep the kids occupied for hours. Gingerbread making and attending Elf school helped the children expel their excited energy whilst we enjoyed a spot of lunch.
As dusk started to fall at 3pm, we ventured to the husky park for the best experience of the trip. Before the start of the husky sled ride, we learnt about the huskies of the park and their daily routine whilst enjoying our umpteenth cup of delicious hot chocolate. From here, we headed off on a husky safari into the wilderness. Our sled was pulled by eight adorable dogs keen to show off their speed and love of running.
Arriving back exhilarated and rosy cheeked, we moved on to our next adventure. The self-driven reindeer ride took us further into the falling darkness. With two reindeer to a sled, it wasn’t long before they were galloping at full speed, snow flying everywhere to the soundtrack of our hysterical laughter.
Giggling our way back to a fire lit tent, we were captivated by the story of the Finnish belief that humans return as reindeers. Soot was marked on our foreheads to determine where our antlers would grow in another life.
The final day was dedicated to Rovaniemi. A small modern city, most of it was destroyed in World War II. However, under a blanket of snow the capital of Lapland was very alluring and picturesque. All the hotels have toboggans, which we took to the lake as the first flakes of snow of our trip started to fall.
The barely risen sun casting warm colours over the frozen lake, covered in snow, was a breath-taking sight. It was a wonderful view to finish the trip on. Lapland is an unforgettable and enchanting experience and it’s safe to say we are a family who can’t wait to return.
Whether it is the wildlife or Father Christmas that has captured your imagination, browse our semi-independent Finland tours.