Desperately seeking Santa

Father Christmas is alive and well in Lapland. Chris Carter pays him a visit.

927_MW_P35_Travel_01
Reindeer: better for pulling sleighs than eating

Every year, after putting in his day-long shift at the office, Father Christmas goes home to the Santa Claus Village in northern Finland, as any Finn will tell you. If you lack reindeers and a sleigh to get there, the village is a mere 15-minute taxi ride from Rovaniemi, a city with an international airport in Finnish Lapland.

Millions of hopeful letters are delivered to the post office here, all addressed to the man in red. Some people, however, prefer to deliver theirs by hand. After all, says Matilda Battersby in The Independent, visiting the village is a chance "to cross into the Arctic Circle (and take a selfie, of course) and visit Father Christmas's House".

Once there, "an elf called Pinecone welcomed us, entrancing my son with a tour through the elves' workshop. Father Christmas was huge and convincing, with a long, curly beard and commanding voice".

The Santa Claus Village is a small theme park with huskies, reindeer rides, shops, cafs, a restaurant carved out of ice and a Snowman World ice chute, says Claire Irvin in The Daily Telegraph. The hotel on the edge of the village is a cluster of chalets that can hardly fail to look "cute in this amount of snow surrounded by forest". It's like Christmas on speed. The 74 cabins at the Santa Claus Holiday Village are toasty. They also come with a terrace, sauna, bathroom, mini-kitchen, Wi-Fi and satellite television. It's all very snug.

Admittedly, traditional Lappish cuisine isn't up to much, with Irvin having to convince her son that he wasn't really eating reindeer meat "I'm sure it's just beef," she assured him. The food in Lapland is certainly "interesting", agrees Amy Packham for the Huffington Post. "I tried air-dried bear, reindeer and goose-liver terrine. Finnish meals last a few hours with multiple courses of small dishes and with food that sounds... odd but tastes pretty good. I embraced it and liked (most of) it".

A star hotel in the Arctic

927_MW_P35_Travel_02

Even further north in Finland is the (real-life) village of Saariselk, "home to Santa's office'" and, as chance would have it, Europe's longest toboggan run . So sledging is a must, says Packham, "even if you do end up falling out half-way down and rolling down instead". Like the Santa Claus Holiday Village, the Star Arctic Hotel in Saariselk is a cluster of cosy wooden lodges, some with glass roofs so you can lie in bed and watch the "pretty spectacular" Northern Lights in the sky at night. That's important, says Packham, because "time in Lapland is time to treasure the place spreads cheer on everyone who visits and it felt almost impossible not to be excited".

(From €980 per person for three nights at the Santa Claus Holiday Village, santaclausvillage.info; Star Arctic Hotel from €349, stararctichotel.com)

Recommended

Forgotten wonders of the world
Travel and holidays

Forgotten wonders of the world

There is plenty to see away from the main tourist trail, says Chris Carter
23 Oct 2020
Get out and enjoy the autumn
Travel and holidays

Get out and enjoy the autumn

It’s the season for hikes among the trees and cosy meals in pubs, says Nicole Garcia Merida.
16 Oct 2020
Travel: a cosy weekend in London at No.5 Maddox St
Travel and holidays

Travel: a cosy weekend in London at No.5 Maddox St

Chris Carter enjoys a city break in London, his home town.
9 Oct 2020
Where to take a skiing holiday this winter
Travel and holidays

Where to take a skiing holiday this winter

There are still several appealing options for a skiing holiday, despite Covid-19, says Chris Carter.
2 Oct 2020

Most Popular

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?
Sponsored

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?

In his recent articles looking at different aspects of the fixed-income investing world, David Stevenson looked at inflation. Today he looks at a clos…
19 Oct 2020
Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom
Bitcoin

Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the move to home working, flexible employment practices and the rise of the “digital nomad”. One of the best …
21 Oct 2020
Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020