In November, we headed on the most amazing family holiday of all time! We headed to Lapland in Finland to see the REAL Santa.
I have never had so many people interested in a holiday- pms, emails and comments asking for all the details. We had looked at package holidays earlier in the year and they just seemed crazy so with some advice from friends and some great Facebook pages we did it ourselves. Ryanair now fly direct from Dublin to Rovaniemi so we booked with them (https://www.ryanair.com/ie/en ). We booked one large suitcase and 4 small ones for the four of us and in fairness we filled them. We only booked a few weeks in advance so we paid about €1500 for them but I’m sure if you plan you can get them cheaper than that. We flew out early Saturday morning and home again on Monday afternoon.
As we were only staying two nights we didn’t bother renting a car. We had heard great things about the Meneva taxi app so we used that. We had a driver waiting for us in the airport which was so handy. We changed into our ski gear in the airport but I probably wouldn’t bother doing this in future. We dropped our bags off at our accommodation and then went straight to Santa Claus Village ( https://santaclausvillage.info/ )
So Santa Claus Village is essentially a tiny town of Christmas activities: Santa himself, snowmobiles, reindeer sled rides, and husky rides. You can visit Mrs Clause, there are sleds everywhere for the kids and fires to toast your marshmallows on. You can also cross the Arctic Circle (https://santaclausvillage.info/activities-and-experiences/arctic-circle/ ).
On our first day, we went to visit Mrs Clause (https://santaclausvillage.info/activities/mrs-santa-claus-christmas-cottage/ ) and I had pre-booked that but you really don’t need to. She was great very engaging and so nice. Then we went snowmobiling. I had pre-booked from Ireland but you still have to queue but useful, others who had no bookings were being turned away, to make sure that you do get a go on the day you want. The kids absolutely loved that. It was only 10 minutes but honestly, that was plenty.
We ate in Santa Pizza and Burger which is actually nice enough. The food is the least exciting thing about Lapland. As someone said to us- you can feed yourself or the children. So we pretty much only ate at Santa Pizza and Burger. Then they played in the (tiny) snowy playground until it was time to head home. Absolutely shattered but very happy!
We stayed in Artic Circle Holiday Homes 2 and it was lovely. Less than ten minutes from Santa Clause Village. We got taxis but it is also on a direct bus route we just wanted to maximise our time there.
Day 2 up and dressed. I had brought Weetabix from home so we just had that and headed off. I also had brought hot chocolate and a thermos flask and some pain au chocolate in the individual wrappers so popped all those in the backpack for the day. Back to Santa Clause Village, a bit later than planned as the kids were out sledding on the hill beside us. The accommodation had sleds there for us to use and they had a great time with the neighbours. The holiday homes also had a Christmas tree up for us and Christmas lights outside and it was just gorgeous.
First stop – Santa Clause. We went to see Santa in his office. We queued for about 30 minutes which is why we went first thing as it does get busier as the day goes on as the tour busses arrive. You can’t pre-book but it is free to see Santa. Presents were €30 each and I also purchased the full photo package which includes the digital images of the photos and a video of the meeting with Santa. The video has made me cry about 100 times already so worth every penny. Santa was great. He pulled out their Christmas letters that we had posted from Dublin while they were chatting to him and they nearly died of excitement!! It was really special! (https://santaclausvillage.info/activities/santa-claus-office/ )
Then we went on a reindeer sled ride through the forest. We chose the middle package but honestly could have done the shorter ride as neither of the kids really liked it. Then we did the husky sled ride and that was amazing. I had pre-booked from Dublin with Bearhill Husky (https://bearhillhusky.com/ ) and I’m so glad I did as they were turning people away the whole time we were there. That was so magical and exhilarating and we all adored it!! We did the Santa’s Husky Ride and it was €176 for the four of us. It was well worth every penny. I would actually do an even longer ride if we go again (fingers crossed).
We also visited Santa Clauses’ post office. If you use the special red post-box then letters sent home won’t be posted until Christmas time.
Finally, we visited Elf Farm, to feed the reindeer. There are some other animals there but we had way more fun on the snow slides.
I can’t believe we managed to squeeze so much into our time in Lapland. I can genuinely say that it was the best holiday of my life. I expected it to be amazing for the children but I was blown away at how much Ger and I absolutely adored it.
TOP TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Just do it! Genuinely- book it. You won’t regret it.
Keep an eye out for the Lidl and Aldi ski sales. I kitted the four of us out for around €300. There are places that you can rent from over there also. Ask around we had a whole second set of gear from friends and family.
Bring marshmallows, hot chocolate and snacks. Food options are fairly limited once in Santa Clause Village.
Do Santa first thing in the morning.
Join the Facebook groups for lots of tips and hints.
Buy the photo package including a video when you meet Santa. I tear up every time I watch it.
I hope that helps. Let me know any questions in the comments. Or email me for some extra Christmas magic tips while there.