Updated: Feb 24
Way back in 2014, after a change to our "future plans", we decided to take the leap and look into visiting Lapland. The most magical place, we have ever visited.
I searched rigorously, site after site, review after review, in the hope of finding a trip perfect for us. I wasn't looking for somewhere over commercialised, I wanted "classic" and magical. I stumbled upon Santa's Lapland, a company based in Godalming, who seemed to tick the boxes with a stay in Saariselka.
The day finally arrived for our early departure to this winter wonderland. We were greeted by elves at check in and took flight from East Midlands Airport. The excitement was through the roof, for children and adults.
We finally landed in Ivalo after around 3 hours. The small airport was ready for us with elves on the travellators and Sami and their reindeer. The snow was falling and everywhere was white, thick with snow. Outside temperatures were nearing -20°. We boarded the coach and were taken to a small local shop for kit. This was a quick job, and the whole coach was given suits, boots, gloves and socks in less than 15 minutes.
Our "resort" consisted of 2 main hotels, wooden cabins and a shop. After a rep meeting, discreetly explaining the plan for the next day and answering any questions, the time was ours. We took sledges and spent the rest of the day and evening on the slopes, as did many others.
With the best description in the world, I couldn't do Lapland justice. It truly has to be experienced. At this time of the year the sun barely rises, and only graces the land with about 4 hours of light, remaining dusk like for the entire time. The snow is soft and powdery, and glistens perfectly, even when disturbed, although beautiful it's not great for building snowmen.....Snow Angels though, well they are deep and superbly formed!
The Big Day:
So much to fit in! We were collected by coach and headed out to the depths of Finland. In the forest, we enjoyed husky sledging, ice fishing, reindeers, the ice bar in an igloo, skidos, and the list goes on. Activities were well planned out with the least amount of waiting time possible. All of these offering an incredible experience which we were unlikely to get again, without a return visit.
There was a cabin for lunch, which was extremely busy but with everyone in festive cheer, it wasn't an awful experience. Outside was a tipi with unlimited pancakes, served with cream and jam throughout the day.
Then the secret event, arriving at a scheduled time to take a sledge ride across the frozen lake! I won't reveal too much here, in case you are ever lucky enough to go, but we found the Big Man himself, Santa! Dressed in green, inside his hidden cabin, he knew exactly who we were and what each of the children would like for Christmas! Spot on for magical memories, right there.
We spent the rest of the day in the woodland, before being returned by coach to our accommodation. In the evening, all resort guests were invited to the largest of the hotels for dinner and a Christmas Party. We also each received a certificate for crossing into the Arctic Circle.
Day Three was spent at our leisure, again enjoying the whole wonderland experience and snow activities.
Our trip ended with tears, no one wanted to go home and three days just definitely didn't feel enough. Maybe one day, we will get the opportunity to return, even if not for a Santa trip but to see the Aurora Borealis.