A couple of days ago I had a very important appointment with the man up north. Not to be confused with Jon Snow (though I really wouldn’t mind that), the White Walkers or the man upstairs – the meeting I had was more of a merry nature. Yep, I had a tête-à-tête with Mr Claus at Santa’s Village in Lapland!
I won’t divulge details on exactly what was discussed, but let’s just say I was even more giddy and excited than usual upon meeting “the man” himself – and don’t worry, I know the truth about Santa. But jolliness is contagious and I have no shame in admitting I was completely swept up in the Christmas spirit!
Santa Claus’ village is situated right on the Arctic Circle line, in Rovaniemi Finland. There is actually a distinct line that runs through the village that you can stand on and claim bragging rights for being right on the Arctic circle itself (like seriously, you can purchase a certificate for this).
Being November, the village was fairly quiet which was good – no queues or crazy crowds. A week ago, it was looking pretty bare in Lapland, but Santa informed me that snow eventually fell the night before I arrived. Lucky lucky! The scenery of Santa’s Village feels like a scene out of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (an all time favourite book!!) , so much so, I stood by a random lamp post transfixed for a bit too long for my cold fingers to handle.
- Meet Santa (he’s a great conversationalist) and take a photo which you have an option to purchase (overpriced in my personal opinion at a minimum of 30€, but I guess it’s a once in a lifetime thing). The route to Santa’s lair(?? I can’t think of a less sinister word for it) is kinda cool too – though they don’t allow cameras in this area.
- Shop for Christmas souvenirs and other Finnish momentos (reindeer skin anyone?)
- See the reindeers and go for a ride in their sled
- Eat fresh Nordic salmon and drink hot Glögi (Finnish Christmas juice i.e mulled wine) in a teepee
- Hop about the Arctic Circle line and annoy your friends on snapchat
- Send letters from Santa’s official post office
- Pretend you’re in Narnia
Of course, there is more to do, however I was fairly limited with time. Check out the website for more ideas!
I felt a day trip was sufficient for my purposes. I caught an overnighter intercity train from Helsinki which took approximately 13 hours (VR does extremely comfortable over-nighters if you have a bunker). Upon arriving, I caught the Number 8 bus (the “Santa express”) to the village. After 5 or so hours at Santa’s village, I then caught the same bus back to the station at around 5pm and boarded the overnighter to Helsinki. If tight on time in Finland, don’t concern yourself too much with staying overnight in Rovaniemi.
Anyway, I’m glad to say another bucket list item has been ticked off during my time in Finland. And now a number of postcards are on their way to my nieces and nephews back home from “Santa” himself, complete with official North Pole stamps – if only I could be there to see their faces when they receive them!