The time has finally come and we booked our trip to see the real Santa and enjoy Winter beauty in Finland. It is the beginning of 2023, first days of January (4th-9th) and we have landed in Rovaniemi. First sight through the windows was thick layer of snow on whatever you might see. As the airplane was riding towards the gates, couple of Jet Fighters were rolling towards the runway – looking extraordinary and unusual to me. The sun was really never properly up in the sky (daylight lasted less than 3 hours a day), so the light was all about golden and cold hour colour tones.
Finally we have put our warm clothes on and took the bus to Rovaniemi city. What a beauty on the way – the snowy Winter, trees looking like snowy creatures everywhere.
First day and we’re happily hopping onto Santa’s bus to the Santa Village. Takes a little while to collect passengers through several more stops before we leave the city. First stop was Santa Park, which quite often is confused with Santa Village – these are two different places! We happened to get off the bus in Santa Park, so had to take 2 more kilometres in a taxi to make it to our husky ride. You can also take a walk between these two places.
Firstly we noticed that huskies are not the ones we’re more used to see elsewhere, the ones that pull sledges are trained, have thinner coat and are skinnier. Four pairs of huskies pull one sledge and this was quite a fun experience to ride it. Two trained leader huskies pulling in front are helped by the others trained to work in the team. They have no much chance to stop once the team is running, so you may expect some smelly surprises on the way 🙂 Overall winter beauty and white snowy paths come to be a nice intro to our Santa Village’s experience. You can also ride a sledge pulled by the Reindeers, however after huskies this seemed less exciting for us, and we just admired these animals while they were passing us by.
The real Santa’s office
Once you enter the experience first thing you have to walk through is a long corridor, full of presents, enhanced by the fairytale music. There are couple of doors with the key holes where you can sneak peak. Elfs can be seen in the progress of their work for Santa. Then you climb up the stairs to the second floor. Workers are dressed as Elfs and will assist you where needed. You may optionally ask for Santa to hand in a present (of course not for free). They ask you about where you come from, how you like it here. And then after a short wait you enter the Santa’s room. Santa Claus himself is a very solid man, with a clear and sound voice. Everything is surrounded by the Arctic Circle and Christmas presents decorations. The man greeted us in Lithuanian saying “Labas”. Which was a nice accent to the experience. We had a picture with him, took a chance to ask how old is he. Santa answered he was older than the forests here but younger than the mountains of Lapland. And so he said to us “ačiū” at the end of our visit, meaning “thank you in Lithuanian. Although we are adults and we know how things are here, we had a unique experience which must have been even more special to our son. You can purchase the pictures and a video taken throughout your visit upon exiting the Santa’s room.
After that we have been exploring the surroundings.
This is a long tunnel going deeply under the mountain. Quite unusual and interesting concept. Once down to the very bottom, you have performances of the elfs happening every hour. There is also a restaurant and many gift shops. Despite few activities for the little and ice sculptures room – there is really not much to expect there. There is quite authentic post office, however everything is very commercialised, leaving us a feeling that paying a high price for the entrance didn’t really fulfil our expectations at all. If we would have known this, we would have chosen to do something else instead of going to this place.
After checking out Santa’s Village and the park, we rented a car and decided to explore the region by ourselves. And that was totally worth it. Some say we were also lucky to have had an amazing weather throughout our travels. So the most significant place we chose to visit was Amethyst mine, located around 100km North from Rovaniemi.
While we were driving North, we have seen -31ºC temperatures in the car’s dashboard. This got us worried if we’re going to be prepared well enough if these temperatures will be in the region where the mine is. To our relief, temperature in the destination was around -20ºC. We put on all our warmest clothing and chose to walk 2.5km from the parking spot to the coffee shop in the mountain. We bought the tickets at the unique office and cafe where the arctic bus took us further to the mine itself. And wow, what an experience. Not the mine itself, but walking through that incredible magic of the Arctic Winter decorations of the forest. Pictures will speak for themselves in the gallery.
We got up to the mountain as the sun was finishing to hide behind the horizon. What a forest view and Arctic sunset sky… After admiring breathtaking views from the top of the mountains and after a short lesson about the minerals we headed to dig our own amethyst. We didn’t find a large piece, however collected few small ones which was a little reward for our work in the mine. We were allowed to take them with ourselves back home.
To finish up with this experience we had to walk back down to the parking, because we have just bought the tickets at the top of the route. And walking down in the dark time of the day was another unique experience we have enjoyed! Yet again, pictures speak for themselves!