If you’re determined to plan a Christmas your children will never forget, then put all other winter holiday ideas on hold; a trip to visit Santa in Lapland will blow all other efforts clean out of the water. After all, the holiday season is a time when the boundaries between fantasy and reality become somewhat blurred – both for children and grown-ups alike. We hang up stockings for Santa to fill, listen out for the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof, and always leave out a mince pie before bed, lest the big man gets peckish! A trip to visit Santa in his home town will bring the magic of Christmas to life like nothing else.
But how and when do you book this trip of a lifetime? And just what should you look for to ensure that perfect festive experience? We’ve put together a brief guide to help you make this Christmas your most memorable yet…
Introduction to Lapland
Lapland is one of the most popular winter holiday hotspots for British families, so the first thing you need to know is that you should book as far in advance as possible. The region is situated on the chilled outskirts of northern Finland with borders that fringe Norway, Sweden and Russia. However, those lower-than-rock-bottom temperatures – which have been known to reach a low of -30 degrees during December – don’t put off those keen to embrace the spirit of Christmas in all its glory.
As well as the glittering lights of Santa Claus village (more on that later), Lapland has plenty to offer holiday-makers looking for a spectacular winter wonderland experience. At this time of year, you’re very likely to catch the ethereal wonder of the Aurora Borealis, a breath-taking natural phenomenon where colourful lights dance across the night sky – an atmospheric experience when set above the raw beauty of snow-clad forests and vast frozen lakes.
If stunning scenery and natural wonders mean less than fun-filled adventure then wrap up in your warmest woolies and head out on a reindeer sleigh ride; try your hand at dog-sledding; or head to a tobogganing park and whiz down the runs with the wind in your hair. There’s even the Ranua Zoo, located an hour from Rovaniemi, where you can take your family to see more than 50 species of wild animal.
As you can imagine, December is peak time for booking a visit to Santa. As a result, this can mean that some new programmes, designed to allow families to get up close and personal with Mr. Claus, can be a little over-commercialised and impersonal. All this means is that to get a place on the very best tours, you want to book as far ahead as possible; you should expect the smaller group tours to be fully booked several months in advance.
There’s no doubt that visiting Santa doesn’t come cheap. The Telegraph states that a family of four can expect to pay at least £2,000 for two or three nights in a log cabin or hotel, including meals, transfers and flights. So, to get the very best experience, be sure to check any itineraries very carefully to ascertain how long you and your family will get to spend with Santa and how much interaction you can expect. Activities and gift-giving are often incorporated into these packages so check you’re getting the best and most authentic experience for your money.
One of the most popular places in Lapland to visit Santa is the famous Santa Claus Village, a glittering amusement park where you can discover the Toy Factory, an Elf Workshop and Santa’s Office. There’s also a selection of restaurants and bars, winter activities and a holiday village attached where guests can stay in apartments close to the action.
However, if you are in search of something a little more intimate, consider the tiny hamlet of Vuotunki, near Kuusamo. Santa’s Cottage operates on a much smaller scale, offering the chance to meet Santa, bake gingerbread and go tobogganing all at a much lower price.
As you prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, don’t forget to make sure you and your loved ones are covered with comprehensive travel insurance. Winter activities sometimes need additional cover, so be sure you check out what activities are included in your plan before you commit to buy. NOW can offer competitive and cheap travel insurance cover for winter activities.