10 of the best festive family holidays in Lapland
Nick Trend guides you to a meeting with Father Christmas himself amid the frozen landscapes of Lapland.
1. Log cabins and saunas
For picture-perfect log cabins with open fires and in-house saunas, with snow-covered roofs hidden in forests where reindeer roam, head for the scenic fell of Yllas, Finland. This is the largest ski resort in the country with plenty of non-skiing winter activities to choose from, too, alongside the usual Santa packages of elf workshops and games.
Four-night Santa Breaks from £1,320 per person, self-catering, at Villa Armas Cabins in Yllas, departing Bristol on Dec 12. Includes food starter pack, private family meeting with Father Christmas and gala dinner. Inghams (inghams.co.uk).
2. Beat the rush
Planning a trip after the pre-Christmas frenzy might be a little more relaxing, and it will be easier to find availability. Transun offers post-Christmas packages to Karesuando, a hillside village on the Swedish side of the border.
Three-night Mistletoe and Wine trip from £1,049, full board, at Davvi Arctic Lodge, departing Gatwick or Manchester on Dec 27, including husky, reindeer and snowmobile excursions, private family meeting with Father Christmas and use of thermal clothing. Transun (transun.co.uk).
3. Festive fun
Santa’s Park in Levi is a lively resort centre with buzzing restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Mrs Claus hands out hot chocolate, and children can send a letter from Santa’s Post Office and have fun decorating gingerbread, overseen by a pack of cheerful elves.
Three-night Santa’s Festive Adventure from £869 B&B, staying at Break Sokos Hotel in Levi, Finland, departing Gatwick on Dec 9, including activities, one three-course dinner, use of thermal clothing and meeting with Father Christmas. Thomas Cook (thomascook.com).
4. Into the wild
Inari-Saariselka’s open fells and forest, in the far north of Finnish Lapland, tick all the boxes when it comes to winter wonderland. Enjoy tracts of white wilderness, magical woodland trails and optional northern lights excursions. Try snowshoeing, or learn about the indigenous Sami people.
Three-night Santa’s Aurora trip from £1,289 per person, half board, at four-star Star Arctic Hotel in Saariselka, departing Gatwick on Dec 11, including sleigh rides, igloo experience, use of thermal clothing and private family meeting with Father Christmas. Santa’s Lapland (santaslapland.com).
5. One-day wonder
While the packed itinerary of a one-day trip to Finland can be hard going, particularly for very young children, it’s a time-efficient way of cutting the cost of a Santa experience. While there’s no time to experience the tundra, a visit to Kittila’s Snow Village, with its ice hotel and bar, means children can meet reindeer and huskies and chat to Santa in his cabin.
One-day Search for Santa trip from £427, departing Gatwick on Dec 9. Includes activities, Arctic storytelling and meeting with Father Christmas. Tui (tui.co.uk)
6. Arctic treehouse
Combine a trip to Lapland’s cosmopolitan capital, Rovaniemi, with a stay in the tranquil snowscapes that surround the city. Sited on a steep, wooded slope, near SantaPark and the Santa Claus Village, the vast windows of the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel were specially designed to provide grandstand views of the Northern Lights.
Three-night Luxury Santa Break from £2,990 adult, £940 child, half board, staying in a suite accommodating three people at the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel near Rovaniemi, departing Gatwick on Dec 3. Includes activities, husky sledding and a private excursion to Santa’s Secret Forest. Best Served Scandinavia (best-served.co.uk).
7. Be a savvy Santa
For the best choice of departures and early-booking deals, plan ahead and book for 2019. Limited half-price child discounts are available on inclusive short breaks to remote Luosto, on the fringes of the spectacular Pyha-Luosto National Park in Finnish Lapland.
Three-night Magical Interlude from £1,430 adult, £1,330 child, full board, at Luostotunturi Hotel in Luosto. Departing Gatwick on Dec 13 2019 and including excursions, private family meeting with Father Christmas and use of thermal clothing. Bookings for next year open this Tuesday, with half-price child places available on selected dates. Canterbury Travel (santa-holidays.com).
8. White Christmas
If you are looking to be away for Christmas itself, a short break to the Swedish resort of Kiruna allows you to ski, go for snowshoe walks and perhaps experience a glimpse of the northern lights. An early-morning church service, Julotta, on Christmas Day is a Swedish tradition.
Five-night Christmas in Swedish Lapland from £1,930 adult, £1,550 child, half board, at Camp Ripan in Kiruna departing Gatwick on Dec 23. Includes activities, Christmas smorgasbord dinner on Christmas Eve and a meeting with Father Christmas. Baltic Travel Company (baltictravelcompany.com).
9. Reindeer and huskies
A journey into the Arctic tundra, across frozen lakes or through snow-laden forests – either on a sled pulled by huskies, a reindeer sleigh or a powerful snowmobile – is a thrilling way of appreciating the beauty of the region. Most operators offer taster sessions that last minutes, but some arrange serious safaris which are best suited to older children.
Three-night Torassieppi Festive Break from £1,595 (adult), £1,495 (child), full board at Torassieppi Reindeer Farm, Finland. Departs from Gatwick on Dec 11 and includes a snowmobile safari, husky safari and reindeer safari, a private family meeting with Father Christmas and use of thermal clothing. Magic of Lapland (magicoflapland.net).
10. Lakeside learning
There’s a real feeling of romantic wilderness in the town of Muonio, well inside the Arctic Circle on Finland’s western border, where family-run lodges overlook a frozen lake. Santa encounters combine with cultural experiences, including learning about ancient folklore from herders in traditional kotas.
Three-night Dancing with Elves tour from £1,745 per adult, £1,445 per child, full board, at Harriniva Wilderness Lodge (with on-site husky kennels and reindeer corral) in Muonio, departing Heathrow on Dec 13. Includes private family meeting with Father Christmas, excursions and use of thermal clothing. Nordic Experience (nordicexperience.co.uk).
Unless otherwise stated, prices are per person based on a family of four (two adults and two children under 11) including flights and transfers.