Lapland in December
One of the most beautiful and unspoilt countries on earth, Lapland is located largely within the Arctic Circle and spreads across northern Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia. Finnish Lapland is the best known part - home to the big man in red, Santa himself.
A trip to Lapland is enthusiastically described on the talk boards as "magical", "breathtaking" and "the ultimate once in a lifetime trip" - but also "very cold" and "expensive". If you're going, chances are you'll only do it once, so read on to find helpful tips from Mumsnetters who have been there and got the (thermal) t-shirt.
- Suitability: Of course people in Lapland have babies, but they are far more prepared for it and won't have spent the best part of the year saving for a trip, only to find said baby doesn't want to spend another minute outside (NB the majority of activities are outside). Many tour operators recommend visitors are aged over 4 as the sub zero temperatures and types of activities aren't suited to really little ones.
- Weather: In December, daytime temperatures generally range from 0°C to -20°C, but it can fall as low as -40°C during a particularly cold spell. It will be dark too, with what is best described as a dull grey light between 10am and 3pm.
- Language: The national language is Finnish, although English is spoken by most accommodation providers and guides and in restaurants.
- Food and drink: You'll find international food in most hotels and restaurants although bear in mind food will be imported so choices might be limited. Pack your own snacks to keep your family well fed - cereal bars, chocolate, hot chocolate sachets and a flask, crisps, fruit etc.
"Food wasn't brilliant, and if you want alcohol buy it in duty free on the way out." Sushiqueen
- Clothes: It's going to be cold, very cold - so pack accordingly. Depending on your package, you might have a 'gala' dinner included. Don't worry about taking your best frock and heels with you. Jeans and a sparkly top/pashmina affair will be fine.
"We took lots of layers including thermal vests, long johns, thermal socks, balaclavas, ski gloves etc plus those hand/foot warmer things. Inghams gave us all in one snow suits and boots and we were never cold, on warmer days we would actually undo the zip at times." EssexBecca
- Flying time: 3 hours from London Gatwick
- Time difference: GMT+1
- Currency: Euros
- Tourist information: Visit Finland, Only in Lapland
- Rovaniemi: Lapland's capital and Santa's home town. There's plenty of accommodation to choose from including Santa's Village.
- Saariselkä: Right at the top of Finland and Lapland, approximately 250km inside the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Ocean is just a few hours drive away. Great for winter sports: snowmobiling, husky safaris, reindeer sleigh rides, skiing and tobogganing.
- Kittila: Situated a couple of hours north of Rovaniemi, more than 100 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle and home to the largest ski network in Lapland. The main holiday hub is Levi, a compact town that has a similar look and feel to a European ski resort. Yllas is a small village in the Kittila region which only has a handful of shops and restaurants.
"We stayed in Saariskelka - a really quiet resort where the only people you see tend to be tourists dressed like you in their snowsuits. It was lovely to be in such a silent place, toboganning in the dark." Floatinginthesea
"Go as far north as you can and as late in December as poss (close to Christmas) to guarantee snow. We went to Yllas which had good snow." Sailorsgal
Choose to take a package trip with a tour operator (see below) or arrange your own trip, flying into Helsinki with Finnair and connecting on to Lapland on a further 80 minute flight.
Santa's Lapland (Esprit Ski)
- Santa's Lapland offer two or three night stays with flights from London Gatwick, Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, East Midlands and Bristol.
- Accommodation is offered in Saariselkä (see above).
- The price for two nights starts from £2,517 for a family of four (two adults and two children). This includes return flights, accommodation on a B&B basis with half board available, an outer snow suit, transfers in resort, activities, plus a private meeting with Santa.
- Further information: www.santaslapland.com or phone 01483 345 868
- Offers day trips to Kittila plus three and four night stays in Levi, Pallas, Luosto, Saariselka or Yllas.
- Day trips are available and prices start from £450 per adult and £450 per child.
- Price includes return flights and on overnight packages accommodation, an outer snow suit, a gala dinner and range of activities is also included.
- Further information: www.thomson.co.uk
- Offers day trips to Rovaniemi plus three night stays in Levi.
- Day trips are available from six UK departure airports. Prices start from £399 per adult, £369 per child and include thermal snow suits and boots, plus entry to the parks, lunch and activities.
- Overnight stays are based in the resort of Levi with five different hotels to choose from.
- Prices start from £665 per adult and £515 per child and include return flights, accommodation, thermal snow suits and boots, one gala dinner, plus a selection of activities.
- Further information: www.thomascook.com
- Offers two, three and four night stays in Lapland in the resort of Luosto.
- Prices start from £1225 per adult and £1145 per child aged 2-11 years. Includes return flights from either Gatwick or Manchester airports, accommodation on a full board basis including a Festive Gala dinner on one of the evenings, thermal snow suits and boots, a range of activities, plus a private family meeting with Santa.
- Day trips are also available from various regional UK airports, priced from £520 per adult, £490 per child aged 4-11 years and £470 per child age 2-3 years
- Further information: www.santa-holidays.com
NB: Prices all correct at time of publishing. Read other Mumsnetters' experiences in Reviews.
- Santa Claus: The main draw for a visit to Lapland - so it's essential that you know how you'll meet him. On some day trips Santa meets all the children at a dinner, others organise a one-to-one family meeting, either at a hotel or at the end of a Santa safari. If you're booking an organised tour, check exactly what is offered. You don't want to unexpectedly find yourself at the end of a 100 strong queue to meet the big man.
- There are a number of other options including a visit to Santa's home town of Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland, where you can meet him at his office or at Santa's Park or head out on a private tour to Joulukka deep in the Arctic Circle.
- Santa's Post Office, Rovaniemi: Another option to meet Santa, and the key thing here is to arrange for him to send your child (or others) a letter complete with a Lapland postmark and stamp.
- Crossing the Arctic Circle: Marked out in Rovaniemi, this is fun for children to cross and a good photo opportunity. Some tours provide a crossing certificate.
- Northern Lights: This is best seen in rural areas with little light pollution so head outside of Rovaniemi. The small ski resorts work well for northern lights trips as there are snowmobiling/ snow shoeing tours straight from the resorts into the wilderness.
- Snow sports: Snow mobiles, husky sleigh rides, reindeer sleigh rides, ice-karting, ice fishing, snow shoeing - there are, naturally, plenty of snow and ice based activities. The tourist board is a good starting point for information or check with your operator.
- Skiing: The ski season in Finland runs from late November until early May. The best ski resorts for families are:
- Pyhä-Luosto: An authentic unspoilt Lappish resort situated just north of the Arctic Circle and surrounded by Finland's oldest national park. Recently voted Finnish Ski Resort of the Year.
- Ruka Ski Resort: Located in north east Finland and one of Finland's major ski resorts. Surrounded by stunning wilderness, the resort offers a variety of trails, adventure slopes and quieter slopes. Ruka's ski school offers private tuition with English speaking instructors.
What Mumsnetters say about holidays in Lapland
- Lapland - best trip I've ever been on! Sledging, husky rides, snowmobiles, log fires and candle lit. Just gorgeous and so much fun! jamtoast12
- You think it's all about Santa, but when you get there you soon realise it's not - it's all just so magical. The thick almost constant falling snow, the real reindeer with snow covered antlers, the picture postcard snow scene surroundings... Frazzledbutcalm
- The temp really does vary, it's been -28°C and -2°C in the same week. Please don't underestimate the cold, if you're doing all the husky dog/Santa's house-type activities, the kids will be sitting around at times outside, especially on the dog sledding, and once they're uncomfortably cold there's nothing you can do about it, so try to avoid at all costs! VonHerrBurton
- The excursions are hideously expensive but I will always remember riding on a husky-drawn sledge in the dark, cuddling my daughter and seeing a shooting star. Floatinginthesea
- Lapland is a special window in every child's life where the magic is REAL! Before all the children at school ruin the magic they can go and have a once in a lifetime brilliant experience! Ribenafiend