If you are traveling to Lapland, Finland you may be in for a culture shock. Accounting for one third of Finland’s total area, it is a region not a country. In addition to covering Sweden, it also covers Sweden, Norway and Russia.
When visiting, don’t expect a regular routine of light during the day and darkness during the night. Instead, the summer can be characterized by 21-24 hours of light while the winter is almost totally dark.
There are many reasons why Lapland, and Santa Claus Village in particular, makes a terrific holiday destination. Located of the town of Rovaniemi in Finland, it is said to be home to the only real, official Santa Claus.
There are also so many reindeer, they almost equal the number of people living in the region (which is sparsely populated with only about 184,000 people total). Also, when you view the city of Rovaniemi, Lapland’s capital, from above, you will see that the streets are shaped like reindeer antlers.
There are also plenty of holiday activities you can enjoy around holiday time. Here are a few that are worth checking out.
See the Northern Lights
The prolonged darkness makes winter the best time of year to see the Northern Lights. This natural light show is best viewed from Abisko National Park. Its windy climate means clouds rarely form making for a clear view of this phenomenon.
Santa Claus Village offers cottage style and cabin style accommodations. Packages can include buffet breakfast and a private sauna.
You may also choose to stay at the Nova Skyland Hotel which offers luxury suites and cabins. Each comes with a private entrance, a private sauna and a private kitchen.
If you love outdoor adventures, Santa Clause Village offers so much to see and do. Here are some options.
· Arctic Circle Husky Park: Visit the park to play with the dogs and enjoy a husky sled led safari ride.
· Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park: This family-owned business provides snowmobile safaris that offer authentic experiences for tourists.
· Apukka Resort: Located just outside of Santa Clause Village, this is a great place to enjoy a sauna, snowmobile ride, a husky or reindeer ride, ice-fishing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and fatbiking.
· Elf’s Farm Yard Zoo: The zoo is a great place to meet domestic animals like reindeers, alpacas, sheep, goats, hens, roosters and rabbits. You can also cross-country ski or snowslide. Guests can bring their own groceries or buy food and drink at the elves’ store which they can heat up at the Lapland hut campfire/ barbecue.
· Visit Lapland Tours: With a beautiful base in the wilderness, this is a great opportunity for preparing traditional food over a fire and viewing the northern lights.
Santa Claus’ Journey
Every year on December 23, Santa departs from his base in Santa Claus Village to deliver presents to children all over the world. If you are in town, you can witness this for yourself. It is also broadcast on social media and often accompanied by Christmas songs and other celebratory activities.
Cross the Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle is a circle of latitude that runs north of the Equator. It is the southernmost latitude where the sun can stay above or below the horizon for 24 hours straight. 24 hours of day is known as Midnight Sun in summer and 24 hours of night is known as Polar Night, or Kaamos, in winter.
The Arctic Circle runs through Santa Claus Village and is located eight kilometers north of the city center. It is clearly marked, and you can get a certificate for crossing if you so choose.
When crossing the Arctic Circle, be sure to stop in at the Old Arctic Circle Cottage. This is the first building to be constructed in Santa Claus Village. It was erected in 1950 to honor a visit from first lady Elenore Roosevelt.
Check Out the Architecture
Much of Rovaniemi’s buildings were destroyed during World War II. Alvar Aalto, one of Finland’s widely regarded architects, led a rebuilding process when the war ended. Here is some of his work that’s worth checking out.
Aalto Centre: Much of Aalto’s work is featured in the administrative and cultural center which is also known as Aalto center. The Rovaniemi City Library and Lappia House are among the center’s prominent structures.
Housing: Many of the village’s houses and commercial buildings were designed by Aalto as well. The Korkalorinne residential area and central Rovaniemi features several of his designs.
Other Structures: While Aalto designed much of the city’s stand out buildings, there are plenty of other architects that have created notable designs. These include the following.
· Rovaniemi Fire Station and Town Hall of Rovaniemi Market Town: These were designed by Ferdinand Salokangas and have since been refurbished into the Arctic Light Hotel.
· Arktikum: This is one of Rovaniemi’s most recognizable buildings. It houses the Regional Museum of Lapland and the Arctic Science Center. It was designed to mark the 75th anniversary of Finland’s independence and it has a glass tube that represents the frozen finger of the north.
· Korundi: Once a bus depot, this structure has served many purposes over the years. It was converted into the Rovaniemi Art Museum in 1986 and later became the Korundi House of Culture. It houses the Rovaniemi Art Museum and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra.
· Pilke: The Science Centre Pilke is built entirely of wood making it a structure that is representative of the sustainable and natural values of Finland.
· The Jatkankynttula (Lumberjack’s Candle) Bridge: This 320-meter bridge connects Ousnasvaara to the town center. It resembles a torch carved from wood by lumberjacks, a popular Rovaniemi trade.
If you are interested in taking a walking tour of the village to check out all the structures, Rovaniemi Tourist Information will provide you with all the guidance you need.
Santa Clause Village is a truly magical place to visit during the holiday season. Which of these attractions will you be checking out during your trip?