The Magic of Lapland
So the open fire has died out, the chestnuts have ceased roasting and all remnants of Xmas have disappeared (apart from maybe the odd pound or two). The new year has begun and its only 11 short months till we do it all over again.
Maybe this year you want to experience something different, something magical, a place where your beliefs in all things Christmas still live strong and where children and adults alike can become one age … this place is Lapland.
Before you go as far as booking this ‘once in a lifetime experience’ you need to first decide whether you go for one day or for a few days. If you decide to go for a few days then you will most likely stay in a more commercial area with roads and hotels, street lights and cars and although there will be plenty to do this is not my idea of a magical wonderland. You will also have to decide whether you go to Sweden, Norway or Finland as they all have their own Lapland!
Personally I have only ever been to Northern Finland, deep into the Arctic Circle … to a place called Enontekio.
Every December you can fly from the UK to Lapland for one fun-filled magical day and I can tell you its everything I imagined it to be. I booked for 3 adults and 2 children with a company called Canterbury Travel who were very helpful and friendly. It cost £490 for an adult and £420 for a child. Now this is not cheap for one day by no stretch of the imagination however the flight is just over 3 hours long and you are provided with most of the required warm weather gear including ski suit, boots, hats, gloves, scarfs etc – you will need thermals though as the temperature can go as low as -30 (this year was very mild apparently with the temperature only being around -5). All food throughout the day is also provided (on the plane and in Lapland) and all activities are free once there – you can go on as much as you like as many times as you like. We did not even take money with us.
Once you land in Enontekio the first thing you’ll be greeted with is snow and lots of it. You are taken into the small yet cosy airport where you collect all your ski suits and boots etc and you are handed a helmet. Once suited and booted and as cosy as a bug in a rug you leave the confines of the airport and venture out in the cold and you soon realise what the helmets are for … Skidoos, yes everyone gets a skidoo ride on a sledge from the airport to the village. It takes around 25 minutes and you travel through a beautiful white forest straight from a postcard. One thing you will also notice the minute you arrive is that it never really gets light in Enontekio at this time of year. You get around 3 hours of grey light and then its back to being dark with nothing but the natural glow from the snow to light your way.
After 3 hours on a plane and half hour on a skidoo you finally reach your destination … the kids are excited and the adults make a bee line for the hot soup that is on offer at the entrance.
So what can you do once your there??? The kids can try their hand at kick sledding, you can take a ride on a husky sledge or a reindeer sleigh, you can take a ride on an arctic horse sleigh or go hill sledding. For the adults there is the option of taking a skidoo out for a blast or you can go for a hot chocolate and cookie in the Ice Castle (a building made up entirely of ice).
Of course you can just have a good old-fashioned snow ball fight.
There is also a small tourist shop (of course) and a modern wooden restaurant where they serve hot food all day long as you can go in as many times as you wish.
If at anytime the cold is starting to nip at those toes you can always find a Kota to warm up in … these are beautiful log cabins built solely for warmth with nothing but seats and a warm hearth fire.
The main event though is of course the visit to the man himself and they certainly get this right. Each family throughout the day is transported by skidoo to a separate area where you wait until the great man is ready for you. The wait is not a long one although you are sat in a teepee with a roaring fire so you don’t mind. If you are lucky it will be snowing when you are called as you start the short walk through a snow-covered pathway lit by candlelight. Soon you come across a log cabin and are welcomed by one of santa’s helpers who invites you in to see the big man.
It’s about as real as it can get with the log fire and Xmas tree in the corner of the room and an extremely realistic and friendly santa sitting in the corner. Letters from wishful children can be found around the cabin but it does not feel like a santa’s grotto – not too commercial. Like I said, it feels and looks about as real as can be and the fact that there is snow all around and it is cold outside makes the whole experience really awe-inspiring for the kids and adults alike. The children receive their gift and even this is done with great efficiency – each child receives a gift with their name on it from father christmas unlike a santa’s grotto in a dept store where it would be blue for a boy and red for a girl etc.
So after about 6 hours of snowball fights and sleigh rides and meeting the big man himself its time to start the journey back to the airport. This is more relaxing than the skidoo journey from the airport as it’s by coach and as you enter, the children receive certificates for crossing the arctic circle and learning to husky ride.
So a short journey back to the airport and you are ready to shed yourself of your winter warmers and climb aboard the aeroplane for your journey back to the UK.
Final comments: Yes it is expensive for one day but the memories should last a lifetime and everyone who went with me loved it – it is packed full of activities you would not normally do and everyone is worn out by the end of it.
Latino777 – Its our time down here.