This winter fly to Lapland and a stunning Arctic wilderness
Say Lapland and many in Europe will think Father Christmas. Even though there’s quite a lot of disagreement on the location of his mythical home among the Danes, the Brits and the Finns, there is something singularly festive about a getaway towards the Arctic that is sure to mesmerize this winter.
The largest and most northern region of Finland, Lapland as a cultural area stretches across Fennoscandia and into Sweden, Norway and Russia, and has been a luxury holiday destination for years. It’s not hard to see why. The stunning natural beauty of the most sparsely populated part of Finland is a huge draw, and this dramatic wilderness offers a variety of adventures to suit adults and children alike. Couple this with the chance to see the spectacular Northern Lights and some unique, luxe lodgings and the reasons are even clearer.
Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland, the official home to Santa and thus home to the Father Christmas Village and the subterranean Santa Park. Small kids will be thrilled, though adults might find the spectacle a tad commercial, so after a stop to satisfy the little ones head north to somewhere more remote. Here take an exhilarating sleigh ride pulled by huskies and explore the icy wilderness with you in control of the pack. Or, make your way to the far northwest and the tiny village of Kilpisjärvi, perched among Finland’s highest peaks, which rise to 1,000 metres above sea level. Home to about a hundred permanent residents, one, Jussi Rauhala, could be your snowmobile guide and take you on a tour of the dramatic barren landscape on a snow safari. In these northern reaches you will meet the local Sami population, the only indigenous people in the EU, and you will also be able to take in unspoilt vistas save for herds of roaming reindeer. There are numerous other activities depending on your location, so whether it’s horse riding, ice fishing, cross-country or downhill skiing or snowboarding you’ll be kept busy – all perfect for a lazy, more relaxing evening in, with a glass of warming Glögi in hand.
Another breathtaking sight that might be yours is the Northern Lights, nature’s most spectacular light show. The phenomenon – the Aurora Borealis – is created from autumn to February by solar winds carrying electrically charged particles interacting with the earth’s magnetic field. Although there is no guarantee that visitors will see the shades of luminous greens and blues in glorious swirls overhead, the chances are in your favour and as a visual bonus like no other, it is certainly worth keeping your eyes peeled.
As befits the landscape there are some unique options for accommodation. Try the glass igloo village of Kakslauttanen Arctic resort, where you can recline snugly outdoors with nothing to interrupt your views, or for the family-friendly try the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel in the capital Rovaniemi, run by the owners of Santa Park. Composed of a collection of cubical chalets with wide, open northerly views perfect for spotting the Northern Lights, opt for the 2-bedroom Arctic Glass House with its open fire.
This winter jet off to the Arctic Circle and Lapland, where you will be able to explore its dramatic terrain, indulge in some thrilling outdoor pursuits, and meet some of its warm locals – and if you are looking to jet off before Christmas be sure to relive your childhood and pay a visit to its most famous local, as you get up close to one of his hardworking reindeer.
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