Is there any place better to spend Christmas than in the very home of Santa himself? A Lapland Christmas comes with snow, elves and adventures that the whole family will enjoy. And, getting festive is a lot easier in a country where reindeer outnumber the people. We’ve got all the inside intel on the best places to meet Father Christmas and extra snow-sprinkled activities for your Lapland Christmas holiday. Just don’t forget to pack your extra layers and your Christmas list!
When to go
In Lapland, Christmas comes early. Really early. Technically, you can feel jolly all year round at the Santa Claus Village – but the official celebrations kick off in early November. The fairy lights are up, the snow is falling and the reindeer are ready to welcome you. Of course, it’s also peak season, so do keep that in mind. Santa will be busy, especially in his official home of Rovaniemi. The good news is, he finds time to visit some of the quieter Lapland resorts. More on that later…
Orbzii tip: Don’t expect to do too much during the days in December. Daylight is scarce and you’ll likely be limited to just a few hours a day where outdoorsy activities don’t need a torch to guide the way. Luckily there’s plenty to do indoors during the festive season – and the ski slopes tend to be floodlit, if you’re planning a little on the slope action.
How long to stay in Lapland
We’re not going to hold back on this one. Staying in Lapland for Santa holidays is on the pricey end of the holiday spectrum. Yes, it’s a snowflake-filled trip of magic, wonder and memories that will last the whole family a lifetime. The optimum time to get your festive fill of Lapland is around 3 days. That said, there’s nothing to stop you swinging by Rovaniemi to give Santa your Christmas list and then heading to a Lapland ski resort for a few days.
Santa Claus Office
Any Lapland Christmas attraction that’s billed as being free, has to be worth a look, right? Possibly. Yes, there’s year round free entry to the Santa Claus Office in Rovaniemi’s Santa Claus Village, but you’re looking at a hefty €30 – €40 fee for a photo of the moment you meet Santa. There’s no obligation to buy the snaps, but it’ll be hard to not to open your wallet to bag the big moment on film. That said, meeting Santa is absolutely free – and the office is wheelchair accessible, making it one of the easiest ways to meet Santa in Lapland.
Santa’s Secret Cottage
Staying in Ruka? The good folks at Ruka Safaris can help you find Santa’s Secret Cottage. Part of a 3 – 4 hour package, your time will be packed with activities and events that make it worth the €81 ticket price. As well as meeting St Nick, you’ll get to over indulge in – and bake – gingerbread biscuits, meet Mrs Claus, go tobogganing and come away with a gift. There’s also time for plenty of photos and even time to learn a Finnish Christmas carol.
Santa’s Log Cabin
In Lapland, Santa holidays aren’t restricted to Rovaniemi. If you head north to Saariselka you can meet Father Christmas in his log cabin. This part of Lapland is just as festive, with Christmas souvenir shops, reindeer, sledding and more than a few elves to help you find your way around. Private meetings with Santa can be arranged – along with the all important photo. Your actual time with the big fella? Around 10 minutes, but the experience is usually bundled with a ‘search for Santa’ package which involves a snowmobile ride through the woods.
More festive fun
Post a letter at Santa’s Post Office
Have you ever wondered who processes all of Santa’s mail? Now’s the chance to find out at the Santa Claus Village Post Office in Rovaniemi. Almost 20 million letters have been passed from the post office to Santa – and the Finnish mail service gives him a helping hand to post out replies to 200 countries around the world. Drop in to see if Santa’s picking up his mail, have a chat with the elves or bag a souvenir. You can also post a letter home that’ll have the Arctic Circle postmark.
Visit the Santa Park
Lapland’s festive amusement park is a Christmas wonderland for all ages. Ride the magic train through the underground world, enrol in Elf School, bake cookies, peer at ice sculptures in the ice gallery, watch the limber elves bust some acrobatic moves in the elf show or head to the workshop to get crafty. Of course, you’ll get to meet Santa too. And take as many photos as you like – or pose for professional snaps (for an extra fee). Magical and full of festive fun.
Orbzii tip: If you can’t make it to Lapland in November or December, Santa Park is open year round. A great shout for a Lapland family holiday that doesn’t need snow on the ground – and the queues to meet Santa will be shorter. Perfect for impatient little ones who don’t care what the calendar says. After all, every day is a good day to meet Father Christmas.
Spend time in the Snow Village
In winter, one of the most fascinating things to do in Lapland is to visit the Snow Village created by Lapland Hotels. The huge undertaking is rebuilt every year from 20 million kgs of snow. They also carve 350,000 kgs of ice to make the rooms, restaurant, bar and ice chapel – along with more than a few ice sculptures. An ideal way to keep the festive vibes rolling, without maxing out on elves, sugar and tinsel.
Spot the Northern Lights
One activity in Lapland that needn’t cost a penny, is spotting the Northern Lights. Of course, excitable small children and activities that need a lot of patience don’t always mix, but there is a solution. Lapland resorts, such as Pyhä run their own aurora alert system. The handy bit of tech comes with aurora alarms – so you can rush outside to catch the show, aurora forecasts – to help you plan your stay and the best places to see the lights. An essential tool if you’re planning to see the Northern Lights.
Orbzii tip: Not all Lapland Christmas holidays involve little ones. If you’re headed to Lapland to experience the magic of Christmas as a couple, consider seeing the lights in a slightly different way. Give Lapland Safaris 2.5 hours of your time and €77 and they’ll strap some snowshoes on you and whisk you off into the woods to hunt the aurora.
Whether you’ll find a use for a handcrafted, Lappish wooden kuksa cup when you get home is neither here nor there. The joy is in the browsing! Of course you’ll want a souvenir (or two) from your Lapland Christmas holiday. And opportunities to spend your Euros are everywhere. Santa’s village in Rovaniemi has a more than respectable mix of shops, where you can pick up everything from handcrafted Sámi items to Christmas decorations. Other resorts, such as Levi, host a Christmas market or you could just pop to Inarin Hopea. The place to buy handmade Lappish jewellery that comes with one big plus: it takes up very little room in your suitcase.