Some basic facts about Lapland will help you plan a comfortable and problem free holiday, especially if you have children. However, it is inadvisable to take very small children below three years because of the severe chill. Lapland is above the Arctic Circle, so it is extremely cold. Temperatures are usually below freezing point, ranging from -7C to -35C in December. There is thick snow in December, though you should be prepared for moderate snow even between October and May. There are limited hours of daylight or perpetual twilight between 10.30 and 15.00, while the rest of the time is night. However, you can look forward to the amazing natural phenomenon of the Arctic circle: the northern lights or Aurora Borealis. Remote solar activity results in red, blue and green lights flashing across the sky, putting up a spectacular show!
There are many options for trips (between two to five days) to Lapland between late November and Christmas, some including a meeting with Santa! Book early between September to November and again in January for the following December to get discounts. Since flying time is three and a half hours from UK, day trips are popular. They take place between 7.00 and 21.00, but timings can change, so check before booking. Lapland is two hours ahead of Great Britain and Ireland, so you can spend six or seven hours there on a day trip. You might plan to visit ski resorts like Levi and Ruka, or traditional picturesque villages like Akaslompolo and Saariselka near the Arctic circle. Popular activities include rides on the reindeer, husky, toboggan and snowmobile.
A meeting with Santa would be memorable for your child, (and mum and dad too!) but check out the kind of meeting offered by the booking agency. There are different categories of meetings: some offer a meeting with Santa in a group, while others guarantee an exclusive family meeting, so review the terms and do ask your children what they would like!
The currency is Euro, though British pounds are accepted in some places. However, it is difficult to change currency, so it is advisable to carry extra cash. Specialist insurance is required, especially for third party liability if you are going to drive a snowmobile. Ask your tour operator to provide the insurance. If you are a UK citizen, avail of the reciprocal health care agreement with UK, but if you are a non-UK citizen, you will require a separate health care insurance.
Temperatures are usually below freezing point with heavy snowfall in December, so thick clothing is essential. It is better to dress in many layers rather than just one. Pack enough thermal underwear, extra socks, thick ski gloves, scarves, warm shoes and hats. Carry some hot pads which can be inserted into gloves and boots, and lip salve, which is essential. Be sure to protect the hands, feet and faces of young children.
It is dark most of the day, so remember that only the fastest speed film will work best in the low light. However, keep in mind that video cameras and expensive digital cameras do not always function well in the cold. In fact, camcorder manufacturers advise against their use in temperatures below -4C, so ordinary cameras are sufficient. Moreover, carry extra batteries, as they drain very quickly in the extreme cold. Make sure that you have protective covers for all your equipment.
Shopping can be rather expensive, so settle for small items like postcards. You could also pick up souvenirs like carved wooden items, Lap dolls, woolen hats and gloves, and articles made of reindeer skin.
The beautiful glow of northern lights, herds of reindeer and Santa will ensure that you have a magical Christmas in Lapland. Finally, make sure to post a card from Santa’s own post office, which has an authentic Polar Circle postmark!