A world away from toy advertisements and tinsel, we were in the depths of Lapland, surrounded by reindeer, listening to Finnish folklore by the fireside. This is not my first time here but it is every bit as magical as I remember. A two-night trip to Lapland will imprint precious memories on young and old alike.
Mushrooms for Santa – A Lapland Experience
My two daughters gripped each arm with excitement, eyes transfixed as our storyteller captured the ferocious north wind in his native hat. I won’t tell you what animal I will be in the next life according to the story but my girls know. Their hearts are here. This is my eldest’s second trip to Lapland and her heart never left.
The North Pole Appears on the Departures Board
On arrival, the first stop is the equipment centre where full arctic attire is supplied – thermal suits, socks, boots, mittens, hats and scarves. Everything works as clockwork and the real adventure can begin.
Elves lead us along a lantern-lit path through a frozen forest. We arrive at a secret doorway. Sworn to secrecy, I can’t reveal what I saw but you won’t be disappointed.
Outside, the group play games, race sleighs, sing and dance. Each family takes their turn for an intimate encounter with a special native of the North Pole. Elf school follows with gingerbread decorating, storytelling and a quiz. Children’s imaginations allowed them to pass their final elf exam far easier than the grown-ups.
You Will Hear the Huskies Before You See Them
The excited team pulling on their harnesses, eager to go. Sitting almost on the ground, an exhilarating husky ride brings you speeding through the forest. These stunning creatures work in perfect unison, leading the sled on an adventure of a lifetime.
After learning about the breed, there was time to meet and pet the beautiful, friendly animals. My eldest would have willingly abandoned us to stay but there was plenty more to see and do.
With a valid driving licence, adults can take to the arctic landscape behind the controls of a snowmobile. Two adults to a machine, drivers can switch at a halfway point giving each a chance to enjoy the scenery or the exhilaration of negotiating the terrain to keep pace with the pack.
The sky is dark and the headlights illuminate the narrow trail through the forest, covered with a thick layer of snow. Children travel separately, in a sleigh behind with a guide. It is a carefree and cosy on a far less bumpy ride than novice snowmobile drivers. Children have a chance to steer their own child-sized snowmobile, tethered to an instructor.
A Gentler Adventure is the Reindeer-Drawn Sleigh Ride
This led us along the edge of an icy lake. During the brief daylight, glistening snow appeared brilliant white with a pink sky and a frozen forest meeting on the horizon.
Our passionate herder and guide shared that reindeer graze freely during the summer months, foraging for mushrooms before the animals are brought in for the winter months. The community herds together with each family having a unique marking on the animal. Obviously, the reindeer that fly get to work with Santa but he helps look after the rest.
Action-Packed Days Lead to Restful Sleep
Snow fights and childish squeals fill the crisp air. Food is tasty and filling, energising bodies in this cold climate. There’s no need to overthink the clothes, the thermal wear does its job though I’d pack a festive sweater.
Santa was left a mince pie and a handful of mushrooms replacing the usual carrot on Christmas Eve. While the trip wasn’t to learn something, we did. Happily, Lapland is as magical as ever.
Shane Cullen reporting on a 2-night trip to Rovaniemi in December 2021 with Sunway Holidays. All transfers, accommodation, excursions, meals and thermal gear are included in the price. 2022 trips are on sale now.