If there is one trip you should definitely try and do with your kids before it’s too late, it is to visit the Finnish Lapland, a winter wonderland for kids and parents!
I recently returned from a 2 night tour to the scenic resort of Pyha in Finland with my son, Matthew. I couldn't believe how much fun we packed into the 3 days.
Lapland, an unspoilt wilderness situated just above the Arctic Circle, is a winter paradise of deep snow and pine forests. Temperatures here can reach well below -20 which was a little too cold for some of the toddlers but as long as you dress properly, the cold is perfectly bearable.
The ideal age for this Lapland experience is between 4 and 11. My son, who is 8, loved the winter sports and particularly the search for Father Christmas! The children were constantly entertained by a wonderful team of guides and elves.
We flew Aer Lingus from Dublin Airport to Rovaniemi Airport. The flight took 3 hours and on arrival we were welcomed by our personalised guides from Canterbury Travel who entertained us with stories and songs on the way to the hotel.
We stayed at the Hotel Pyha, nestled among ski slopes and snow covered forests located on the edge of the National Park in Pyha/ Luosto. There is a choice of authentic log cabins or comfortable hotel rooms. All our meals were included and the children were well catered for.
The children gathered each evening outside on a big snow slope for tobaggan races and snowball fights. It was real, quality family time with no devices or iPad’s in sight.
After an ‘all you can eat’ buffet style breakfast, we got ‘suited and booted’ with lots of extra layers for the day’s activities. Our guides greeted the children with ‘magic sparkles’ to start their search for Father Christmas.
Our first stop was at the Reindeer Farm where we met a genuine Finnish Reindeer Herder. We were then treated to a reindeer sleigh ride through the enchanting forest landscape. Matthew and I were quite cosy covered in warm blankets.
Afterwards, the kids fed the reindeers while the parents warmed up with some berry juice by the fire.
The next stop was a visit to the Husky kennels. Before I knew it, I was given my own husky sleigh and, with Matthew on board, we raced through the woods pulled by 6 beautiful husky dogs.
In the afternoon, after a hearty lunch, the children played games at the elves house and met Noisy Nod and Wendy Wood - just some of Santa’s special helpers.
Back at the hotel that evening, we enjoyed a Gala Christmas Dinner of turkey and afterwards it was back outside, wrapped up warm for some late night tobogganing.
Our final day got off to a great start! Our activities began on a huge slope where we all took turns travelling down at speed in a toboggan. The tour groups are small so every child gets lots of individual attention from the elves and Santa’s helpers.
After our adventures in the snow, we went in search of Wendy’s Workshop under the pretense of helping her make toys. Little did the kids know that they were actually being brought for a private meeting with ‘you know who’!
A snowmobile with sleigh took us deep into the woods to a large wooden house with a large fire burning outside. As the children played in the snow, each child was taken one-by-one to meet Santa.
When it came to Matthew’s turn we were led through a beautifully decorated Finnish house and were warmly greeted by Mrs Claus. Behind a magic bookcase, we were led down a wooden staircase to a big door and told to knock twice…
And there he was, Father Christmas, who greeted Matthew by name and produced the very Santa letter Matthew wrote and posted weeks before.
The attention to detail was wonderful and totally personalised to your child. Santa even gave Matthew a gift he had on his list...magic!
We travelled as guests with Canterbury Travel on their 2 night Idyllic Lapland Tour, priced at €2665 for 1 Adult & 1 Child (prices from €5270 for a family of 4)
It was an experience I will never forget and one of the best holidays I’ve had in terms of fun and adventure with the kids.
If you are considering going, check what’s included as Canterbury’s package have no hidden extra’s - activities, snowsuits, snow-boots and meals are all included. They recently won two travel awards at the British Travel Awards 2016 for ‘Best Family Holiday Company’ and ‘Best Activity Holiday’. Canterbury Travel is a specialist Lapland tour operator.