From the Northern Lights to activity-filled trips and adults-only retreats, Abra Dunsby looks beyond Santa’s charms to find options for a fun-packed Finnish Lapland break.
The bearded man in the red suit may be the main draw for many Lapland visitors – especially little ones – but the destination offers plenty more magic. While clients will be hard pushed to bag themselves a Santa break for 2017, many operators are offering winter-themed experiences for this year, and there are myriad options for next year.
“The magic of Lapland is not limited to the festivities of December,” says Katherine Page, product manager for Lapland at Inghams.
“Finnish Lapland, deep inside the Arctic Circle, is a winter wonderland with guaranteed snow right up until Easter. Visitors can venture into the wilderness on an exhilarating snowmobile safari, on snowshoes, in a reindeer-pulled sledge or even mushing their own team of huskies.”
Emma Durkin, Finland and Scandinavia product manager at Regent Holidays, recommends clients visit in March, when the days are sunny, there’s still plenty of snow around and availability is much greater. If clients are planning a holiday to Lapland in December, she recommends they book around 12 months in advance to avoid disappointment.
Aside from all the activities on offer, Lapland also offers a wealth of unusual accommodation options, from luxury thermal glass igloos to cosy lodges. Here, we take a look at the many sides of Lapland.
Lapland doesn’t have to be all about the children. Whether clients visit during the long sun-filled summer nights or for snow-laden winter scenes, the magic of the natural landscape makes Lapland a uniquely romantic destination. Best Served Scandinavia’s Beana Laponia Luxury Break includes a stay in an 11-room adults-only hotel in the wilderness outside Rovaniemi. The five-day break combines snowbound adventure – in the form of husky and snowmobile safaris, skiing, hiking and snow shoeing – with relaxation thanks to its steaming private saunas, gourmet dining and Northern Lights experiences.
New accommodation for Carrier in Finnish Lapland includes the Arctic Tree House Hotel – newly opened in December 2016. Featuring luxury pod-style rooms raised on stilts, the stylish hotel is made up of individual private suites, making it well suited to couples. Guests can enjoy a range of Arctic adventures such as dog sledding and snowmobiling, husky and reindeer safaris and chasing the Northern Lights.
Once Father Christmas has hung up his boots, Lapland still has plenty to offer adventure seekers, and clients looking for something different could consider a distinctive New Year break. Canterbury Travel’s six-night Lapland Arctic Adventure holiday departs on December 27 and includes snowshoe hiking, reindeer rides, husky mushing, a trip to an amethyst mine and a snowmobile safari across the plains of Luosto, culminating with a New Year’s Eve dinner party and a jaunt to try to spot the Northern Lights. Prices start from £1,360pp.
For active clients with kids, recommend the Northern Lights Adventure trip from Families Worldwide. The trip includes a visit to a local reindeer farm and the chance to learn about the life of a reindeer herder, where clients can try their hand at lassoing one of the animals and learn local wilderness skills such as ice fishing. Activities include snowshoeing, husky sled riding and cross-country skiing, with a night in a remote cabin for a snug stay and the chance to see the Northern Lights.
If they’ve not tried cross-country skiing before, clients can learn as part of Inghams’ Cross-Country Skiing in Yllas holiday, which is open to all levels. The sport is easier than downhill skiing and more sociable, making it perfect for families who want to appreciate the spectacular surroundings of the Pallas national park.
For braver clients, suggest an aurora ice-floating excursion, where they’ll don a warm flotation suit before plunging into the frozen water to stargaze and search for the Northern Lights overhead. The experience is offered by various operators including Regent Holidays, which includes it as part of its new Polar Explorer Icebreaker ship tour. Prices for the excursion start from £275pp.
Once they’ve exhausted themselves with thrilling activities, clients can rest their heads in style, especially since Lapland offers a range of quirky and memorable accommodation. On The Go Tours sells two trips during which clients spend the night in a glass igloo, making for an idyllic way to view the Northern Lights.
Ann Aimes, the operator’s Finland product manager, says: “Clients won’t have to worry about trying to stay awake to watch the Northern Lights, either. The cabins are complete with an Aurora Alarm, which will go off when the lights appear.”
The igloo stay is included in both the Enchanting Lapland and Lapland and the Arctic Circle group tours. Regent Holidays also includes a glass igloo stay, this time at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, on its Lapland Winter Escape trip. Clients will also spend two nights in the resort’s secluded log cabins, where they can rest by a roaring fire. The resort boasts five smoke saunas, where bold clients can finish their experience off the traditional way – by jumping into the frozen river.
For families or groups of friends travelling together, Best Served Scandinavia has added luxurious villas to its portfolio. The Levi Spirit Luxury Villas evoke intimate and contemporary Scandi chic. The nine individual properties each come with their own sauna and kaami – a traditional Sami earth lodge with balcony, outdoor terrace and roaring open fire. The villas are also located in Finland’s largest ski area, with a network of powdery trails and some 200 skiing days a year, with a season that stretches from October until April.
Also new for this year from Thomas Cook are its Snowman Glass Villas, which have been added as the first Signature by Thomas Cook branded property to its Lapland programme. The villas sleep up to four people and their floor-to-ceiling glass design means they’re a great way for clients to catch the Northern Lights. Guests can book the villas as part of the operator’s Sleigh-bell Sleepover trip.
If the kids are still crying out for santa...
There is still limited availability for Santa trips this year, particularly among luxury suppliers. Carrier and Best Served Scandinavia still have Santa breaks on sale. Both operators offer trips that include a stay in the Arctic Tree House Hotel and a private Father Christmas and elf experience.
Book it: Carrier offers four nights for a family of four with hotel, flights, transfers and outings from £22,260 (December 14 departure).