Christmas treats for kids don't get much better than going to Lapland and meeting the real Santa Claus. Children will fall in love with this wonderland where the deep, velvety snow is dotted with frosty pine trees and (if you're lucky) illuminated by waves of blue light. If you're fortunate enough to be planning one of these enchanting breaks, there are ways to make the most out of visiting Santa's homeland. There are tons of things to consider: the best age to take the kids, how long to stay, which company to pick and where exactly to go. Here's how to make seeing jolly red himself a little easier and give you some much-needed tips for any Lapland holiday:
There are many tour operators offering some great deals on breaks to Lapland; prices are competitive so root around and dig out the best deal for you and your family. Christmas is an expensive time of year as it is and with the added financial hardship at the moment, many companies will be struggling to sell these Christmas trips. Esprit Holidays (although actually their site is called Santa's Lapland) offer a range of decent deals for short breaks for families with quite hefty reductions. Once you’ve got your package right, then shop around to compare various travel insurance prices in order to find the right family solution. At this time of year, every penny saved can make the difference, after all.
Consider day trips carefully
It seems to be all the rage to take a day trip to Lapland but I am wondering why parents inflict this upon themselves. Yes it's cheaper, but it comes with many downsides: firstly your kids will be up a the crack of dawn, fly three and a half hours, have an afternoon in Lapland, fly three and a half hours back and arrive home in the early hours of the next day. It sounds like a recipe for bad moods and temper tantrums. Plus there is no room for error - if you miss your plane, the bus breaks down, or your flight is delayed then you will enjoy no day trip whatsoever.
By far the best way to see Santa is on a short break, for a two or three night stay. You will have plenty of time to go sledging, ride snowmobiles, toboggan and have husky-dog rides. A couple of nights will give you time to relish the blue tinted stretches of snow and possibly catch the Northern Lights. Though they are more expensive than day trips they are better value; try Transun for an impressive deal.
The main commercial resort in Lapland is Rovaniemi; a small city with Santa Claus village, which is the heart of the Santa industry. However there are other, smaller villages, which are less commercial and utterly picturesque - these include Karesuando and Saariselka.
The window of opportunity for taking an authentic Santa trip is relatively small; too young and they won’t remember it and might not enjoy the cold. Too old and the Santa gig is up and it will lose its magic. Roughly between the ages of five and eight is pretty perfect for a visit to Father Christmas.
Check the deal you are buying carefully and ask yourself these questions: will we get a private meeting with the man in red? Will it be special and not tacky? How will we get there? Nordic Experience is great for trips that aren’t commercial and they always add something special to the holiday, for example they can organize Santa to have your child’s wish list and a present from you. Lastly remember to kit yourselves out in proper winter gear: thermals, big boots, waterproofs, thick hats... you name it you need it.
All that's left to do is plan your magical trip to Santa’s secret grotto. Oh, and put in a good word for me, won't you?