Tourism in Finnish Lapland is growing in record numbers this Christmas season. For most visitors, snow and the Santa are the main attractions.
On Saturday, December 22, more than twenty charter flights are expected to land on Finland’s four northernmost airports – Ivalo, Enontekiö, Kittilä and Rovaniemi. Scheduled flights from Helsinki bring hundreds more visitors from around the globe to experience the winter wonderland.
Dixon from Hong Kong is doing an exchange in Madrid. When his parents and brother came to Europe to visit him, they all wanted to get a taste of real winter. They have travelled round Lapland – snowmobile ride in Ivalo, icebreaker cruise off the coast of Kemi, and a chat with the Santa in Rovaniemi – and there is a husky ride waiting before the family heads back south.
“Everything is so different here, from the food to the temperature and the short daylight hours. There is a nice Christmas vibe with decorations everywhere.”
Some visitors come because of the Yuletide myths and legends. Jarrod Mendoza is one of them.
“I believe that Finland is the true home of Santa. I have studied the legend, and all the details fit. I love mythology and legends”, says the artist who has created plenty of artwork about winter and the Santa Claus, or Father Wynter, as he prefers to call him.
“Up here in Lapland, I love the whiteness, and the chill in the air. I much prefer winter to summer”, the San Francisco resident claims.
Snowfighting at the Arctic Circle. Photo (c) Marko Junttila.
For some voyagers, Lapland is a fantasy come true.
“This is my dream”, acknowledges Mylene Barbier from Nice, France who travelled to Rovaniemi with her son, husband and father-in-law.
“We have enjoyed everything, from the scenery to the activities. We have patted the reindeer, ridden a husky sledge and visited the Ranua Wildlife Park, which was wonderful.”
The seasoned travellers will enjoy a few more days of sub-zero temperatures before returning to the Mediterranean for the Christmas festivities.
The Aksekar family flew all the way from Singapore to see snow and meet the Santa.
“Our country is very warm, and we wanted our children to experience the seasons. Lapland has been a complete change of scenery, this is all quite stunning”, Vanila Aksekar exclaims.
“People are very warm and friendly here, just like they are in Asia. The way of life seems very relaxed – not much traffic or people. The snow is beautiful, and Christmas is visible everywhere”, Samir Aksekar continues.
In Lapland, the Christmas travel season will continue long after December 25. Early January, Russian tourists will arrive to celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar, and Christmas trees will decorate the tourist destinations all through winter. On the Arctic Circle, you can meet Santa in his Office every day of the year.
The Aksekar family is enjoying winter in Finland. Photo (c) Marko Junttila.