Lapland is the northern most county of Finland which borders Russia, Norway and Sweden. It’s winter landscape is pure white unspoilt snow that would rival any other winter wonderland on the planet. Irish visitors will know Lapland for it’s famous white-bearded occupant but there’s more than christmas cheer in this diverse Finish county.
It’s capital, Rovaniemi, hosts the famous Santa Claus Village, but Lapland isn't all about Santa, there’s loads more: they have winter sports, dog-sledding with huskies or reindeer sleigh rides, you can see the magnificent northern lights, or stay in traditional wilderness cabin or even an ice hotel! With travel agents offering competitive deals and different packages there’s something for all types of families and budgets.
It’s three to three and a half hours travel flight time from Dublin/Belfast with around 30mins transfer time to resorts. Because Lapland is within the arctic circle, you can imagine it’s pretty cold with December temperatures as low as -16 degrees with short days and daylight of just 4 hours. However, these are perfect conditions for having some proper winter time family fun.
For the ultimate family christmas experience Rovaniemi hosts the world famous Santa Claus Village, which is, essentially, a theme park devoted to all things christmas. If you have booked a package, on arrival to the resort you will be given warm gear and snow suits for tobogganing or snow skies, that will take you for a quick spin around the resort. Santa Clauses Grotto is a short bus ride from the main town, in which groups of families will get a chance to see the main guy himself. The theme park is another short bus ride away where you will visit a purpose built old nordic village with log cabins fitted out with cafes, shops, bars and restaurants. Here you can do extra activities like visit the underground Santa Park, book snow safaris or hire a dog sleigh.
Not far from Rovaniemi (1hr) is the forested resort of Phya. This is a ski resort village that also caters for Santa visitors with the same activities as that of Rovaniemi. These resorts are a little bit cheaper than the main resort and if you are thinking of bringing the family skiing, liftpasses are a third cheaper than they are in the Alps. However, these outdoor activities are for the true adventurous as temperatures are extremely cold.
For something different, families travelling to Kittila will have a truly arctic experience - that’s best suited for kids over 8yrs. Here you can find the famous Lainio Snow Village, made from designers and architects entirely from ice, with accommodation available to sleep in an ice hotel. In Kittila, you can go snowmobiling, ice fishing, or cross country walking on snowshoes or cross country skiing. These resorts offer travellers snowsuits and warm gear for extreme temperatures, but don't forget to bring your own.
If your kids don’t believe in Santa Claus then try something else; this for the young (and young at heart) impressionables who still believe in the magic. Plus, Finland is really expensive. Make sure you’re willing to part with a sizable amount of cash before you treat your kids to something this extravagant. Furthermore, travel agents offer short packages including one, two and three day return trips, and with flight times up to 4 hours, dragging young kids to the north pole for just a few days will be exhausting. Finally, remember the temperatures in the arctic circle will be below freezing making it very challenging for babies and toddlers, so make sure kids are the right age.
For an alternative, budget friendly festive fun with the family, try christmas at EuroDisney in Paris.