Visit the Real Santa in Lapland!

DSC_0221DSC_0499This year, my partner had to work away over the whole of Christmas. These magical Christmases with our daughter are not going to last forever, so rather than him miss out on the magic, he decided to book the three of us on a trip to Finnish Lapland to visit Santa before he left. We flew out with Thomson to Saariselkä, which was the most Northerly area of Lapland that they fly to (in the hopes that we’d also get to see The Northern Lights). The flight out was magical. The cabin crew were great fun, singing Christmas carols with the passengers, wearing santa hats and getting the Children excited by doing colouring competitions.

Our hotel at 3pm in the afternoon

Our hotel at 3pm in the afternoon

It was very odd landing at 2 in the afternoon in the twilight. In the arctic circle in winter, the sun never rises in the Winter, and never sets in the Summer! In mid-December, there are about 2-3 hours of dim light during the day (though technically-the sun hasn’t risen), and the rest of the ‘day’ time is in the pitch black. It was -22°C when we landed and I vividly remember the cold temperature biting the inside of my nose like tiny sharp needles of stinging pain! …Oddly though, I didn’t feel bitterly cold all over-despite not taking a coat with me!

In case you think I sound like I’m barking mad for not taking a coat. Lapland Safaris provided all of our outer winter wear on a hire basis… All we had to take were thermal base layers, thick socks, scarves and hats. The gloves/mittens, boots and outerwear were all included in the cost of the holiday!

My daughter and partner Toboganning in Saariselska at 3pm in the afternoon

My daughter and partner Toboganning in Saariselska at 3pm in the afternoon

We stayed at The Snowflake Hotel (locally known as Hotel Riekonlinna). It had the best reviews for families in this area, and for good reason-as it was the only hotel with kids reps and family entertainment.

Once kitted out, we borrowed sledges from hotel reception for a deposit of 2€ each. The run just 100 meters from the hotel, is actually the longest toboggan run in Northern Europe at 1,200m long! It took me 45 minutes to walk up and over 5 minutes to toboggan down! (Post to follow)

On our second day (first full day there) we were taken on our Santa trip. Arriving to Santa’s pine forest in the dark and walking up the candle lit path with the flickering light dancing in the snow was just magical! Anyone would know we were about to meet the REAL Santa.

Arriving at Santa's Forest in the morning at about 9am.  It was actually pitch black, though this picture makes it look much brighter than it was

Arriving at Santa’s Forest in the morning at about 9am. It was actually pitch black, though this picture makes it look much brighter than it was

One of the Elves with our Daughter

One of the Elves with our Daughter

We were met by Elves who pointed us in the direction of lots of fun activities including:

Learning about the Lappish Sami (pronounced Saa-mee) people and their traditional beliefs. The Sami people rely on Black gold (the forest wood) and reideer to make money. There are more Reindeer in the Forest than people, and the Sami people believe that once you cross the Arctic circle, you will come back in your next life as a Reindeer. We were given a special mark on our foreheads where our antlers would grow to ensure that we come back as Santa’s Reindeer. Our Daughter wasn’t terribly happy about this prospect, so she didn’t look terribly happy about her Reindeer markings in the picture below

My partner and Daughter with their Sami Ceremony Rendeer Markings

My partner and Daughter with their Sami Ceremony Rendeer Markings

Sami Tipi - Where we attended the Sami Ceremony

Sami Tipi – Where we attended the Sami Ceremony

Mini Skidoos

My 5 year old daughter driving a mini-skidoo

My 5 year old daughter driving a mini-skidoo

Snow Mobiles

Me driving the Snowmobile through the Forest in Lapland near Saariselska

Me driving the Snowmobile through the Forest in Lapland near Saariselska

The children rode in a sleigh behind the Snowmobile leader.

The children rode in a sleigh behind the Snowmobile leader.

Husky Rides

This was my absolute favourite part of the day (aside from seeing my daughter’s face when she visited Santa Claus)

Resting Huskies calling and woofing to one another-they clearly love their life!

Resting Huskies calling and woofing to one another-they clearly love their life!

My family in the husky sledge, about to go dog sledding.

My family in the husky sledge, about to go dog sledding.

Our view during the husky ride

Our view during the husky ride

Reindeer drawn sleigh rides

My Daughter and I about to go for our Reindeer sleigh ride

My Daughter and I about to go for our Reindeer sleigh ride

My Daughter and I in our Reindeer Sleigh

My Daughter and I in our Reindeer Sleigh

During our Reindeer Sleihg Ride

During our Reindeer Sleihg Ride

One of the Reindeer.  I love this picture.

One of the Reindeer. I love this picture.

Visiting the Blacksmith Elf

It was explained to the Children, that The Blacksmith Elf occasionally helps Santa to send some presents by magic Elf Dust power. The special Magic Elf Dust is thrown into the fireplace to magically transport the presents to their intended destination. The children were allowed to witness the magic in action and help the Blacksmith Elf to send some presents.

The Blacksmith Elf showing her Magic elf dust to the Children

The Blacksmith Elf showing her Magic elf dust to the Children

The Magic Elf Dust in action!

The Magic Elf Dust in action!

My family and I, standingg with The Blacksmith Elf, outside her little cabin

My family and I, standingg with The Blacksmith Elf, outside her little cabin

and of course The Main Event, meeting the Big Man himself…. SANTA!

We were collected in a sleigh towed by a snowmobile for an exciting ride through the snowy forest. We had to sing Christmas Carols all the way-so that the magic of the Christmas music led us to Santa!

The Snowmobile Ride to Santa's Cabin

The Snowmobile Ride to Santa’s Cabin

My Daughter making a Snow Angel for Santa outside his Log Cabin

My Daughter making a Snow Angel for Santa outside his Log Cabin

My Family and I, standing outside Santa's little Cabin.

My Family and I, standing outside Santa’s little Cabin.

When we got there, ‘Snow Princess’, one of the elves, showed us into Santa’s work cabin where Santa was sat by a roaring fire. He chatted to our daughter for a good five minutes before reading her list with her, and then offering her 2 presents from his sack-one of which was on her list! 😉

Santa reading our 5 year old daughter's Letter in person

Santa reading our 5 year old daughter’s Letter in person

Santa Claus told her that she could open a gift from him.  It was a game from the wish list she had handed him!

Santa Claus told her that she could open a gift from him. It was a game from the wish list she had handed him!

A family Picture with Santa

A family Picture with Santa

She was so thrilled, and awe struck by him. This really was the most amazing day of our entire trip. SO SO SOO worth the expense. It really is the most magical Christmas experience.

Coming up Next, posts about the Longest Toboggan Run in Northern Europe, our Husky Ride Day, and The Elf Adventure Day Trip

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  1. Indoor Sky-diving with my family! | Emma's Bucket List - January 18, 2013

    […] Visit the Real Santa in Lapland! […]

  2. Egypt (Part 2) – Temple of Karnak, Valley of the Kings, Tutankhamen’s Tomb and Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple | Emma's Bucket List - January 18, 2013

    […] Visit the Real Santa in Lapland! […]

  3. YALLA! YALLA! …Bedouins and an Egyptian Desert Jeep Safari | Emma's Bucket List - January 18, 2013

    […] Visit the Real Santa in Lapland! […]

  4. Egypt (Part 1) – Hurghada, Makadi, Snorkelling and Kissing a Cobra | Emma's Bucket List - January 18, 2013

    […] Visit the Real Santa in Lapland! […]

  5. Longest Toboggan run in Lapland! | Emma's Bucket List - January 22, 2013

    […] on from the my last post Visit the Real Santa in Lapland!  Whilst at Saariselkä, we made use of the amazing Toboggan Run which is situated on a mountain […]

  6. Husky Racing in Lapland! | Emma's Bucket List - January 25, 2013

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  7. Stay at The ICEHOTEL in Sweden | Emma's Bucket List - April 16, 2013

    […] Visit the Real Santa in Lapland! | Emma's Bucket List – April 16, 2013 […]

  8. See The Northern Lights | Emma's Bucket List - July 7, 2013

    […] failed to see them when we visited Finish Lapland on a Santa trip before Christmas, which only served to increase my appetite to see them further.  In honesty, […]

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