The good news is that Lapland is a vast region that takes in several different countries including Finland, Norway, Sweden and even parts of Russia.  When most people take a family holiday to Lapland they will visit either Finland or Sweden.

As this area falls within the Arctic Circle the average summer holiday wardrobe just will not do, although temperatures during the summer months are much more reasonable than those in the winter and tourists who go there should be suitably kitted out with a variety of thermal garments if they want to make a traditional Christmas trip there.During the winter the temperatures rarely rise above freezing.  The region is home to the Sami people and there are many destinations within Lapland where families can go and enjoy all that the region has to offer.

Where to visit

The Swedish people have designated Mora as the true home of Santa Claus.  Visiting this area will bring you to Santaworld (‘Tomteland’), a Santa-based theme park with an elf village, a reindeer park and the Kingdom of the Trolls.  Although Santa is a Christmas tradition, tourists are able to visit all year round, although during August and September children will not be able to see Santa himself.  This is a good option for those who are not sure about braving the colder temperatures in winter.

Kiruna is another Swedish location for meeting Santa and this is great for adults also as it is the perfect place from which to see the Northern Lights which is a beautiful phenomena but it is not guaranteed that they will appear.  Visitors to the area are able to stay in the impressive Ice Hotel if they visit at the right time of year.  The beds are made from ice and covered in reindeer hides and breakfast the next morning is eaten from a table made from ice.  The city is the northernmost city in Sweden and is home to a snow festival every winter.  Activities include an ice sculpture competition and during the summer there is the Kiruna festival.

Alternatively there is Rovaniemi in Finland.  This also has an all-year round Santapark where visitors can take part in making toys and riding on a sleigh as well as seeing Santa to tell him what they want for Christmas.

In addition there is plenty of nightlife and shopping outlets for the visitors. Very close to Rovaniemi is Joulukka. This is another Christmas themed area and visitors will be guided around by elves and children can take part in lessons at the elf school. There may also be opportunities for those who want to see the ‘command centre’ where the Santa operations are co-ordinated and letters are answered.

Things to do in Lapland

Many of those who take tours to Lapland will take part in one of the traditional ceremonies held by the reindeer herders. This could include a baptism Lapland-style and shamanic spells but everyone who attends has fun and receives a certificate as proof.

Alternatively a more modern approach to the crossing is to take the Inland Railway which runs between Kristinehamn and Gallivare in the Swedish part of Lapland and is a very leisurely way to take in the local scenery.

Spending time with the local Sami people is a great way to introduce children to another culture.  Many of these are reindeer herders and areas such as Inari in Finland are the best places to find out more about them. This Finnish town is also home to the Sami Museum and the Northern Lapland Nature Centre.

There are also museums in other parts of the region including Arktikum at Rovaniemi which is perfect for finding out more about the mythology about the Sami people.  In addition, the Arctic Circle Reindeer Farm is located at Rovaniemi and kids will love the opportunity to see these animals close-up.

Visitors who make the trip to Lapland during the summer months will find that there are plenty of sports available to them. Kids will love the chance to go canoeing and there are plenty of horse-riding and mountain bike trails for the active family.

Husky sledging is a popular activity in many parts of Lapland.  Families can take the opportunity to drive a team of huskies through the local area with the assistance of a guide. This is generally only suitable for older children although the regulations vary depending upon the kennels that are arranging the excursion.