Pssst. We found him. Santa himself. He lives in the Lappish wilderness of Finland at the Arctic Circle in a gorgeous village. Best of all, he has an amusement park boasting reindeer sleigh rides, gold panning (Lapland’s soil is enriched with gold), underground caves, an elf toy factory, and other rather eclectic holiday adventures. It beats sitting on his lap any day. Especially for those of us over four years old. We’re planning a visit. Because when it comes to the Giant Elf? He’s boss. We’re believers, and think Santa Claus Village should be on everyone’s bucket list.

 

santa-claus-village-laplandPhoto Credit: Rovaniemi, The Official Hometown of Santa Claus

 

Santa Claus Village, about 8 kilometers from the town of Rovaniemi, is both kitschy and utterly charming. It’s Finnish wilderness meets holiday tourism. The Arctic Circle cuts right through the amusement park, and legend has it that if you step across on a moonless night, magical things can happen. Lore also has it that Santa made this his home, open to visitors from all around the world, after his original secret hiding place was revealed. After all, Santa comes from Finland. (We had no idea!)  

 

santa-claus-office-finlandPhoto Credit: The Official Travel Guide of Finland

 

Here, you can meet Santa every day of the year in his very own office, sit by the fire and write postcards to friends in the Santa post office. You can check out the Christmas House and its exhibit featuring the world’s most famous Christmas traditions, including, of course, Finnish ones. There’s also an elf toy factory.

 

santa-claus-holiday-village
Photo Credit: Northern Lights at the Santa Claus Holiday Village

 

Aside from these diversions and shopping for traditional Finnish kuksa cups and reindeer skins (or a certificate stating that you crossed the Arctic Circle – in Finnish, English, French, German, Italian or Spanish), and taking in all that holiday decor with plenty of picture perfect photo ops, there are snowmobile safaris, husky sled rides, an ice bar with ice sculptures at Snowman World, underground caves where you can meet Santa’s fairy creature helpers in Santa Park, and the chance to overnight at the Igloo Hotel or in the village itself at the apartment-style Santa Claus Holiday Village.

 

reindeer-and-kid-finlandPhoto Credit: The Official Travel Guide of Finland

 

The latter also offers ice fishing trips, snowshoe excursions, Northern Light safaris and more adventure packages. Your other option is to stay in an actual igloo made of ice and snow at the Snowman World Igloo Hotel. This property also houses the Ice Bar featuring ice sculptures and an Ice Restaurant. Dress warm!

 

ice-bar-finland
Photo Credit: Ice Bar at Snowman World

 

Lapland is pure, vast wilderness situated in the northernmost region of Finland, consisting of 30 percent of Finland’s land area, with a population of a mere 3 percent. The capital of Finnish Lapland is Rovaniemi. Though it’s remote, it’s easy to access. Most visitors fly into Helsinki and then on to one of Lapland’s airports. But one can also rent a car to drive through on the open, empty roads through an eight-season wonderland known for its fells (giant mountain formations) that are tens of millions of years old and magical Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Trains are another option.

 

igloo-hotel-snowman-world-finlandPhoto Credit: Igloo accommodation at Snowman World

 

For more traveling info, go to www.lapland.fi.

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