I’m not sure what the general buzz is about winter holidays. I for one find them entertaining as hell. Though, when I say winter: I mean snow instead of sand, some questionable temperatures, and arctic conditions suited only for hyperborean races. Anyway, winter holidays can be pretty fun.
A couple of years ago, a few friends and I decided we would have a pre-Christmas celebration/vacation in Lapland. The timing probably wasn’t ideal, as it meant taking a couple of days off before Christmas holidays began for us uni students. Who cares about missing a few days of Uni, especially considering we were having Christmas in Lapland (well spending a few days there prior to Christmas break).
Rovaniemi is a small city, situated 10 km away south of the Arctic Circle. It is also the main city in Finnish Lapland. As you can imagine it gets extremely cold there, with the average annual temperature being 0.9 °C. With that being said, I’ve been to some cold places – but this was by far the coldest place I had visited.
As it happened when we arrived the temperature was about -3°C and dropped to about -15°C that night. Pro tip: if you’re planning on spending Christmas in Lapland make sure you double up on the thermals, and invest in an arctic (super warm) jacket.
Christmas in Lapland
Our flight up to Rovaniemi wasn’t as bad as we expected. Maybe it was the copious amount of alcohol consumed. Nonetheless, as all students do – we celebrated finishing University early by
sipping chugging a glass of Moet on-arrival. Classy right! Stepping off the plane we were hit with a stinging breath of cold air. Piercing/chilly/freezing, what ever you want to call it – it was fucking cold.
Super cliché but our hotel was called Hotel Santa Claus, and it was located in the centre of Rovaniemi. The hotel was actually pretty modern in contrast to the name. However, the boutique décor didn’t shout out ‘you’re right next to the arctic circle’ as you would have expected.
Luckily we were booked onto a winter safari in Lapland Rovaniemi. Essentially this meant we had a private guide picking us up, and taking us around to the various attractions/activities we were booked on. We pretty much did everything available in Rovaniemi. Including: sledging, reindeer sleigh rides, a husky ride, visiting the huskies, meeting Santa (don’t ask), a northern lights snowmobile safari and strolling around Santa Claus village (yes it does exist).
Moreover, the snowmobile rides were extremely comical, it didn’t help that my buddy flipped his snowmobile sideways on the first night. And on the second day, I ended up face planting off a sledge into a thick patch of icy snow. Our guide did let us back on the snowmobiles another night, this time probably fearing for our safety. With that being said, zooming around a forest like a scene from a James Bond movie can be super fun. Its worth noting, that it does get a lot colder in the forest – so be warned!
Eating & Drinking in Lapland Rovaniemi
I believe that every restaurant we went to served reindeer. At first it was pretty fun eating Santa’s best mate Rudolph. On the other hand, those four days we spent in Lapland Rovaniemi possibly resulted in us eating at least two whole reindeer’s. On the final day we ended up in an epic Mexican restaurant, tired of stopping the reindeers doing their job (if you hadn’t of guessed: assisting Santa delivering presents). Nevertheless, one restaurant worth recommending for their great reindeer dishes is Sky Ounasvaara at the Lapland Hotel.
As well as having some truly respectable restaurants, there were a number of bars we checked out. Sanata Claus Hotel had a really chilled but yet vibrant bar. Where the locals insisted in buying us a shot or two of their ‘unknown cool spirit’ – Finlandia Vodka (I’m not even kidding). On one of the nights a couple of us even found ourselves downing strange blueberry shots at the local universities nightclub event. I still don’t know what they were.
Overall, regardless whether you are spending Christmas in Lapland or simply visiting Lapland Rovaniemi the place is truly awesome. It is worth taking a trip up there, and experiencing for yourself the real Lapland. If you are also looking to go skiing, the slopes open mid December. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post and here is a picture of Santa. Thanks for reading!