With Finnish Lapland singing the lead in the Scandinavian Christmas choir, holidays to this festive part of the world have a particular charm. Visitors can try winter sports, meet reindeer – and even Santa himself – up close… and it’s all set on a backdrop of Finland’s picturesque snowy landscapes.
Set in the idyllic pine-clad west of Finnish Lapland, Harriniva Hotel comes complete with saunas, outdoor Jacuzzis and spa treatments. Share your stay with a team of around 400 friendly huskies, all too willing to meet guests and take them on a dogsledding trip through snow-covered paths. For something a bit more Christmassy, find your very own Rudolph to ride, perhaps heading out in chase of the Northern Lights. Lastly, little ones are kept well entertained with cookie baking workshops and elves who lead the way to Santa’s grotto. Adults can swap baked goodies for a wilderness cooking lesson.
The Christmas period, with its long, clear nights, is also happily one of the best times to spot the Northern Lights. Head to north Finland’s Lapland whose Arctic Circle location is ideal for spotting the displays – perhaps from an aforementioned outdoor Jacuzzi or combined with a husky safari. Indeed, Finland is a veritable playground of snowy activities. Let the roar of a snowmobile take you through picturesque landscapes or strap on a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis to explore at your own pace. Along the way, you’ll get a taste of the hardy Sámi culture with wilderness hikes to ice fishing spots.
Alternatively, hit the waters aboard the world’s only passenger ice-breaker – the MV Sampo. After tours of the bridge and engine rooms, you’ll watch how its reinforced bow crashes through monolithic sheets of ice. You might even get the chance for a dip in the icy water yourself.
Combine your Christmas activities with a stay in some of Finland’s most exciting accommodation. One of its most unique examples is the glass igloos at Kakslauttanen and Levin Iglut. A meld of Scandinavian design principles and traditional construction, their glass domed roofs look for all the world like a space-age igloo, complete with designer steel framework. Interiors, on the other hand are strictly log cabin chic, with timber accents and stone flags. Watch as the night’s star-studded sky unfolds above your bed. For the real deal, look to the Lainio Snow Village for a snow hotel collection of everything from cocktails bars and chapels to restaurants and steepled rooms.