Rovaniemi’s the capital of Finnish Lapland. It’s a small, compact city that comes with a real buzz of modern shopping malls, lively bars and restaurants, serving up everything from traditional cooking to French cuisine. It’s also got the rather big draw of having Santa Claus on hand – not to mention Arctic wilderness that’s perfect for snowsports and sleigh rides. And the whole place is designed to look like a reindeer’s head from above – complete with antlers.
Santa Claus Village
It’s Christmas all year round at Santa Claus Village, less than 10 minutes’ drive north of Rovaniemi. It’s a novelty to send greetings from the Post Office here, and there’s the chance to learn about the history of Christmas traditions. The place gets busy at the end of November when there are concerts, gift bazaars, performances by Santa’s elves.
Sports and shopping
Father Christmas has some competition. Sporting activities are popular at Ounasvaara, just outside the resort – there are nearly 50 different things to do here throughout the seasons. Cross-country skiing, tobogganing and snowshoeing make up the winter fixtures.Shopping’s a popular activtity, too. Head to Lordi Square in the heart of Rovaniemi, where a huge Christmas tree lights up the shop-lined streets.
Reindeers and Rovaniemi go together like turkey and trimmings. Experienced guides can take you into the icy wilderness of the Arctic Circle on reindeer safari. Some of the sleigh-ride operators* also do visits to a reindeer farm, where you can meet the animals up close