My visit to Santa Claus Village in Lapland
Despite all controversies surrounding Santa Claus’ origin, you can meet him on almost any day of the year by visiting the Santa Claus Village in Lapland Finland.
Visiting this snow-covered Santa Claus Village on Christmas was a dream come true for me. From the looks of other visitors that day, I realized that not only children but adults were also thrilled by such a magical ambience here.
A visit to Santa Claus Village will become 10 times more amazing if you also happen to spot the Northern Lights. Read on to laugh at my failed attempts to see the Northern Lights and learn some tips to maximize your chance of catching them next time!
First impressions of Lapland Finland
Having been to 18 countries around the world so far, whenever I’m asked to name one destination that I’ve fallen in love with the most, the answer is no doubt “Lapland”! Lapland is my Fairy Land. And it will be yours as well once you’ve been willing to leave behind the hustles of bustles of city life to listen to its call.
I was fortunate enough to travel to Lapland not only once but twice during the winters of 2012 and 2014. I still remember waking up on the second day of my first trip to Lapland to realize with amazement that the temperature had dropped to -28 Celsius degrees overnight. It was only -10 the previous day.
Yet it seems the colder it gets, the more beautiful and magical Lapland becomes.
Where is Lapland?
Lapland is the largest and northernmost region in Finland. Lapland’s capital is Rovaniemi – a modern city with around 62,000 inhabitants. There is also a Swedish Lapland, which is the northernmost province in Sweden.
The average temperatures of Lapland in July (the hottest month) and February (the coldest month) are 17oC and -10oC respectively. You can imagine how freezing it is there.
So, apart from the impressive temperature, what else is so special about Lapland?
Things to do at Santa Claus Village in Lapland
Letters to Santa
There are many things to do at Santa Claus Village, such as writing a postcard and sending it with an official Santa stamp.
Santa Claus’ post office is situated right next to the village’s entrance. You will surprisingly find yourself spending so much time in this tiny post office doing things in this order:
- choosing from a wide variety of beautiful postcards
- reading letters sent to Santa Claus by children all over the world (I found a cute letter written to Santa by a 9-year-old girl from Vietnam and it totally made my day!)
- shopping for souvenirs for people back home who might be jealous of your visit to Santa Claus Village
- writing all those postcards
- having them sent with a special Santa Claus stamp.
Meeting Santa Claus
The most exciting part is meeting Santa Claus in real life.
Very similar to what I had always imagined when I was young, Santa Claus is a big bearded man dressing in red. Apart from his sonorous voice and tight hug, what impressed me most was his incredible ability to make anybody who sets foot in his room feel comfortable.
Here’s the photo of Santa Claus with me and my two friends when we visited him in 2012.
Alright, so since the beginning of this article, I have told you about Santa Claus as if he were real! I chose to believe so because that would make my life less boring and pragmatic.
However, I reckon you should know one more thing about visiting Santa Claus at the Santa Claus Village in Lapland. In fact, it costs 25 euros if you want to have a photograph with Santa Claus. Yes, we paid 25e for a package containing this photo of Santa Claus with us, a video recording our visit, and some information about Santa Claus Village.
Fortunately, there were 3 of us in the photo together so we could share the cost. After all, Santa Claus does not only give but also take as well. For me, the money was worth it anyway.
Reindeer sleighs and husky rides
Now as you have met Santa, it’s time to explore other parts of the Santa Claus Village in Lapland.
Everybody knows that Santa’s best friends are the reindeer. Here at Santa Claus Village, you can take a reindeer sleigh and visit a reindeer farm for some fees. Don’t forget to pet them!
The husky ride was for me much more exciting as it was faster than the reindeer sleigh. The ride will lead you into the forest as well, not only around the farm. You might be lucky enough to see the small huskies as well. They were the cutest!
Chasing the Northern Lights in Lapland
After spending nearly an hour choosing and writing postcards for my friends at the Santa Claus Post Office, I realized that most postcards here tend to depict either Santa Claus or the Northern Lights. Surely the Northern Lights have become an emblem of Lapland!
This amazing phenomenon is most likely to appear in Lapland from December to February, which is also the coldest period of the year. A Finnish friend once told me of the occasion when he saw the Northern Lights for the first time. It was a cold and dark night when his group of friends was doing a snowmobile tour across the forest. While driving through the darkness, they suddenly saw a stunning sight of lights with different colors dancing right in front of their eyes. It must have been an epic moment for them.
My failed attempts to see the Northern Lights
I was one of the unluckiest visitors to Lapland who failed to see the Northern Lights twice!
On my first trip to Lapland, my friends and I went to some local shops to ask for tips to catch the Northern Lights. The locals pointed us to a deserted frozen lake a bit far from the city. We waited there for 45 minutes without seeing anything and decided to go home when we felt like we were about to freeze.
During my second visit to Lapland, I decided to book a Northern Light tour with a travel company. The tour bus took us far into the forest and high up onto a snowy hill to maximize our chance. Much as I had hoped and prayed, all I saw was a black night sky with shiny stars.
Maybe Lapland wanted me to come back for the third time. So badly that it hid the Northern Lights from me twice.
Tips to see the Northern Lights
For all fans of Northern Lights out there, here are some tips to maximize your chance of spotting them in Lapland:
- The best time to see the Northern Lights in Lapland is from December to February
- The best locations to spot the Northern Lights are dark places without artificial lights. That means going far into the forest or up onto the highest hills.
- I’d recommend booking a Northern Lights tour to maximize your chance of seeing them in Lapland. You can enjoy a snowmobile ride to a campfire deep inside the forest where the Northern Lights are most likely to show up. Once you’ve been tired of looking at the sky in vain, you can go into one of the wooden huts to warm yourself and enjoy some grilled sausages. The tour guide will also tell you folk tales from the ethnic minority Sami in Lapland regarding their beliefs about the Northern Lights.
In another post, I will cover other activities you can do in Lapland, such as snowmobile, spa, snowshoeing, etc. Stay tuned!