Yesterday I started thinking about the saying ”you need to travel far to see close”. It took over 17 years and three different cities (Stockholm, Dubai and Helsinki) to see my birth town differently. After last Christmas’ spent in the sandpit, Lapland and Rovaniemi started to look like winter wonderland to me. The tourist feeling came already in the airplane.
We boarded our Finnair flight from Helsinki and were almost the only Finnish speaking customers on the flight. Tourism seems to be booming in Lapland and honestly, after decades of hard work, Lapland definitely deserves it. One thing I respect the most is the genuine Finnish atmosphere. The companies have been able to develop the tourism in the area respecting the old traditions and nature. There is nothing fake Disneylike with the activities offered.
Following are a couple of activities we truly enjoyed during our Christmas break in Rovaniemi.
1. Snowman World
Snowman World is located in the Santa Claus Village therefore it is easy to include to your initiary since you will probably visit the village anyway. We paid 20€ per person (children had the same price) for access which included ability to see the igloo hotel rooms, ice bar and snowfun for the whole family. There is an ice slide right after you enter the place. Outside you can find a pretty rough looking slide which you can ride with a snow tube. Luckily there is also a ”softer” version for kids (and myself).
Our 5 year old loved the slides and I lost count how many times he actually tried those. The best part for me was the area next to the igloo room where you were able to chill on a Fatboy and watch a short film about the season changes and arctic lights, projected to the snowy wall. The music was so calming I almost fell asleep.
Our son also tried the kids snowmobile (15€ 6 mins) in front of the Snowman World. In addition there was skating possibility which we skipped.2. Santa Claus Village and seeing the (real) Santa leave
There are plenty of activities to do in the Santa Claus Village (incl. my favorite, shopping) but one memorable thing to do is singing with the elves and seeing the Santa Claus to leave for his yearly journey on December 23rd. The event has been growing every year and is filmed live to various countries. The program starts around 6.30pm 23. December and the Santa is sent to his journey around 7.15pm. Check the Santa Claus Village website for yearly detailed schedule.3. Ounasvaara Stadium slides
We took a sled and drove to the Ounasvaara skiing stadium (few kilometers from the center). You can do the slopes or cross country skiing here but our activity included only basic slide with our own sled. Plenty of fun free of charge, plus you will get a nice view of the city if you climb all the way up to Ounasvaara hill (don’t slide down the slalom route tough, for your own safety).4. Reindeer ride (Santa Claus Village)
This 1 kilometer ride through the forest got us to a real Christmas mood. There are different alternatives available from 400m ride to longer tailor-made versions. Prices start from 18 euros for adults and 14 euros for kids. The ride was so magical that our son fell asleep.5. Northern Lights
This activity doesn’t necessarily cost you a thing but is based on luck. If you are lucky, you will see the sky in amazing flames. Nowadays there are multiple apps available which will give you a notice if the aurora borealis probability gets high enough. We used the free version of AuroraAlerts but many cities in Lapland offer their own version which probably are more user-friendly for the area where you are staying. We did get a glimpse of the northern lights but a few weeks after returning home, I noticed there had been amazing lights during a very cold period (-37 Celsius). Remember to wear warm clothes.