Living / 3 September, 2019 / Christina Walter
Billed to be the most magical place on earth at Christmas, Santa’s Lapland is located within Saariselka in northern Finland. This once in a lifetime experience for both children and adults alike is packed with many a festive activity. Besides the sleigh rides, husky sledding, igloo experiences and mounds of snow, there’s an exciting reindeer-led search for Father Christmas, and then a private family meeting with the big man himself.
We opted for the Santa’s Lapland Aurora package which included a full itinerary of activities, flights, transfers and accommodation.
A few weeks before our trip we were sent a package detailing all we needed to know about our fun adventure. The package also included some special writing paper for the children to pen their letters to Father Christmas. These letters were packed in my suitcase (without the children’s knowledge) and quietly given to the elves before our meeting with the big guy.
The flight time is around 3.5 hours from Gatwick into Ivalo airport. On arrival we were met by one of Santa’s friendly helpers and taken by coach on a 25 minute drive to the resort. You can imagine how excited the children were to be getting closer to the home the REAL Father Christmas.
En route to the resort we were taken to a shop where we each were kitted out with our thermal clothing, including snow suits, boots, socks and gloves. This kit was borrowed for the entire time we were there.
The Star Artic hotel was our booked accommodation, it was very luxurious; the rooms were spacious and clean. Our room consisted of a double bed on the top floor of the room and a double sofa bed on the bottom floor, where the children slept. Our room was located on the south side of the building, overlooking the most beautiful arctic scenery, a truly magical winter wonderland.
The day we arrived we were taken by coach to a part of Saariselka where we were treated to a Wilderness dinner. We were served a hot dinner of salmon in a traditional Finnish setting with delicious berries for desert.
Next stop was a visit to explore a large igloo where we learned all about the Northern Lights. The guide talked us through how in Finland this phenomenon is called ‘revontulet’ which means fox fires, he explained how the Finnish people believed years ago that the Northern lights were created by a fox running through the snow emitting sparks. He also then went into detail on the real scientific reasons for how the Northern lights are created – just fascinating!
There was also time to try out tobogganing and kick sledding – the children had great fun making snow angels!
Father Christmas’s log cabin is hidden away deep within the snowy woodland. A reindeer pulled our sleigh deep into the forest, guided by a a traditional Sami (indigenous people of northern Europe inhabiting Sápmi) and Christmas helpers. We came to a clearing and were greeted by a number of very cheerful elves. The elves took us into the cabin and there he was – the man himself. It was Father Christmas! To the kids’ surprise he’d already received the letters they had written – he knew exactly what they both wanted for Christmas! Kids’ minds blown.
We had the opportunity to take some family photos with Father Christmas before he gave the children a gift each, bringing our meeting to a close.
This had to be my favourite part of the trip. We were taken by coach a short distance from the hotel to a husky farm. We meet some of the dogs before we were taken into the forest to find our own husky sledges. We were given a sled per family (2 adults and 2 children), pulled by six dogs in convoy around the forest, led by a guide on a skidoo. The ride was exhilarating and the dogs were amazing. After the ride was over we were able to take some pictures with our dogs and the children even received cuddles!
We were kitted out with balaclavas and helmets before being led out from the hotel to the snowmobiles. The children sat in the front of a sled under a cosy blanket, pulled along by their very own guide, while we were able to ride together on a snowmobile following behind. The guide led us on a fun ride down hills and through woodland. We took in some breathtaking sights on the way before ending up in the town where our coach was waiting to take us back up to the hotel.
Outside the hotel we had use of toboggans so the children were able to have fun in the snow during our down-time at the hotel. There are also lots of other activities you can do in addition to the itineraries listed in the packages. You can have fun skiing – cross country and downhill, snowshoeing, or taking part in Rudolph’s reindeer run.
The luxurious Star Arctic hotel offers spectacular views of the Northern Lights. Set at the top of the fell, it’s far away from any light pollution, to give you a perfect view of the stars (weather permitting, of course!). Some of the cabins have large glass windows so you can make sure you capture the Aurora Borealis in all its glory. Two bucket-list experiences in one!
Family trips can be booked for 3 or 4 nights with flights included.
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