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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi Holidays

Home to Santa Claus, this snowy winter wonderland is a magical destination for all of the family. Lovers of winter sports, saunas and ice bars will find plenty to enjoy in modern Rovaniemi. You can see the Northern Lights in winter and enjoy daylight all night for summer activities.

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Lapland's playground

Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland which in turn is the northernmost part of modern Finland. This town may be small but it has international fame, thanks to the fact that it's near the site of Santa's office.

Rovaniemi attracts 300,000 visitors per year, mainly visiting Santa on Lapland Christmas holidays, so you'll be in good company if you make a trip here. The town has only been Santa's official centre of operations since 2010, but apparently he loves to welcome all visitors, young and old.

If you're not a great fan of the guy in red, this is also an astonishingly beautiful destination. Even when the ground isn't covered by the snow, the natural landscape is stunning.

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  • Christian
  • Euro
  • Finnish, Swedish
  • GMT + 2

Cross the divide at Santa's Village

Eight kilometres from Rovaniemi is the Santa Claus Village which offers a winter wonderland experience to create magical memories, especially for little ones. Family holidays to Lapland are increasingly popular, giving you the chance to see Santa, pick up Christmas gifts and enjoy festive music and cultural events.

The Arctic Circle actually runs right through Santa's village. You can get a certificate to prove that you've crossed the Arctic Circle underground as Santa's village has a 50-metre deep grotto that allows you to pass the line.

Santa encourages people to send their Christmas mail from his postbox so that these envelopes can be stamped with a special Arctic Circle postmark, administered by Santa's elves.

Tasting the local delicacies

If you want to make the best of your Lapland holiday then you'll need to fill up your tank as skiing, snowmobiling and even walking all require energy in the cold.

There are a wide variety of restaurants in Rovaniemi, and this is an excellent destination to sample some authentic Lappish food. Of course you'll be able to find the usual pizzas, international menus and burger outlets in the town, but half of the fun of holidays is being adventurous and trying something different.

Reindeer is eaten in these parts and it's an incredibly nutritious meat, similar to venison in the UK. It may be served with cloudberry sauce, bilberries or lingonberries. Another food you'll probably encounter is 'Karjalanpiirakk', a filling savoury pastry. Ryebread is also eaten everywhere and absolutely delicious when it accompanies a fresh fish dish.

Hands-on winter fun

Winter in Rovaniemi is all about having fun. You can build snowmen at Snowman World, have a drink in an ice bar just a nine-minute drive away from the centre of town, go skating or take part in a local sleigh go-round. This is also the destination to enjoy snowmobiling as well as skiing – Ounasvaara ski resort is a five-minute drive outside Rovaniemi.

If you want to meet some reindeer, then you're in luck, you're bound to see one of these magical animals in the heart of Lapland. And the fun doesn't stop there, you can even attend an elf school when you spend your holiday in Rovaniemi.

Aurora Borealis and the midnight sun

Many visit this part of the world in order to spot the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights. It's best to try and view these magnificent light shows by getting away from any electric lights, so just outside Rovaniemi is a good option.

There are specialist tours that will take you into the middle of the wilderness where you'll have a better chance of spotting the lights as they aren't always visible on a daily basis. The best time to catch this phenomenon is between June and July.

As Rovaniemi is on the edge of the Arctic Circle, expect 24-hour daylight during the summer, when Lapland experiences the Midnight Sun. However, instead of seeing the Northern Lights this time of year, you can go riding, fishing or carry out any other fascinating activities 24-hours a day. You don't even have to stop your fun come night-time.