Planning a family holiday in Lapland during the winter can be a magical and unforgettable experience. But what can you expect when preparing a family friendly holiday in Lapland?
Lapland, located in the northern part of Finland, is famous for its stunning winter landscapes, the chance to see the Northern Lights, and a range of unique activities and attractions.
While the region of Lapland is made of 21 municipalities, you’ve probably heard of the famous Rovaniemi, the home of Santa Claus. This place is of course very popular in December with families even though in recent years, tourism has spread across the whole winter to enjoy more activities to do.
Funny enough, the 1st country of origin for tourism in Lapland is the UK with over 300,000 British visitors per year followed by Germany and France. No wonder why the Brits have created their own Lapland UK theme park back in 2007.
So here’s what you can expect when planning a trip to Lapland in winter.
1. Snowy Wonderland
Lapland is covered in a thick blanket of snow during the winter months, creating a picturesque winter wonderland. Expect pristine white landscapes, snow-covered forests, and frozen lakes, providing a perfect setting for a variety of winter activities.
Lapland’s snow-covered forests become a magical setting for adventures. Families can explore the woods on snowshoes, cross-country skis, or simply by taking peaceful walks along well-marked trails. The quiet beauty of the snowy forest creates an atmosphere of serenity and tranquillity.
The abundant snow offers endless possibilities for outdoor play. Children can build snowmen, engage in snowball fights, create snow angels, and even have fun with snow fortresses. It’s a place where kids can fully embrace their inner child and indulge in classic winter activities.
2. Meeting Santa Claus
Lapland is often associated with Santa Claus, and you can visit Santa’s official hometown in Rovaniemi. Meet Santa at Santa Claus Village, tour his workshop, and send postcards with a special Arctic Circle postmark.
Meeting Santa Claus is a magical and emotional experience for kids, as they have the opportunity to chat with Santa, share their holiday wishes, and pose for photographs. Santa is known for his kindness and jovial nature, making children feel truly special during their visit.
Many children receive a small gift from Santa during their visit. These thoughtful presents are often accompanied by heart warming conversations with Santa, creating a memory that lasts a lifetime.
3. Northern Lights
Lapland is one of the best places in the world to witness the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). The clear, dark winter skies provide excellent opportunities for viewing this natural light display. Guided Northern Lights tours are available to maximise your chances of witnessing this breathtaking phenomenon.
Lapland often provides Aurora forecasting services, allowing visitors to keep track of the best times for Northern Lights viewing. These services offer predictions based on solar activity and weather conditions to help you plan your aurora outings.
Many local operators in Lapland offer guided Northern Lights tours. These excursions take you to remote and optimal locations for aurora viewing, increasing your chances of witnessing this stunning natural display. Experienced guides know the best spots and provide interesting insights about the lights.
4. Winter Activities
Lapland offers a wide range of winter activities suitable for families. These include dogsledding, reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobiling, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. You can also experience the thrill of snow tubing and ice karting.
One of the most exhilarating experiences in Lapland is husky sledding. You can go on a husky safari where you and your family are in charge of your own team of eager sled dogs. This adventure provides a real sense of wilderness and a connection with nature.
Also, try your hand at ice fishing on frozen lakes, a popular pastime in Lapland. It’s a great family bonding activity, and if you’re lucky, you might catch some arctic char or trout to cook over an open fire.
5. Arctic Wildlife
The region of Lapland is home to a variety of Arctic wildlife. While it can be challenging to spot animals like reindeer, moose, and even the elusive arctic fox in the wild, you may have the opportunity to see them at local wildlife parks and farms.
For instance, reindeer are an integral part of Lapland’s culture, and you can learn more about them through reindeer sleigh rides and visits to reindeer farms. It’s a unique and peaceful way to explore the winter wonderland and connect with local traditions.
6. Ice Hotels and Igloos
Consider staying at an ice hotel, where you can sleep in rooms made entirely of ice and snow. It’s a unique and memorable experience, but keep in mind that these accommodations are quite cold, so be prepared for a chill!
Beware that accommodations in ice hotels are booked far in advance. So make sure to plan accordingly and try to book at least a year in advance for the month of December.
Alternatively, have a look at my recommended best places to stay in Lapland with family.
7. Traditional Sami Culture
Lapland is the land of the indigenous Sami people. Learn about their rich culture and traditions through activities like visiting a Sami village, experiencing their cuisine, and hearing stories from the local Sami people.
Check if there are any winter festivals or events taking place during your visit. Lapland often hosts events like ice sculpture competitions, traditional Sami celebrations, and seasonal markets, providing additional cultural experiences for your family.
Don’t miss the opportunity to taste traditional Lapland dishes, which often include locally sourced ingredients like reindeer, salmon, and berries. Warm up with hearty soups and stews, and don’t forget to try Lappish desserts and warm beverages.
8. Warm Clothing
Be prepared for extremely cold temperatures in Lapland during the winter. Dress in multiple layers, invest in quality thermal clothing, and ensure your family stays warm and comfortable throughout your stay.
Layering is key to staying warm in cold conditions. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer that keeps sweat away from the body. A middle-insulating layer, such as a fleece or down jacket, provides warmth. Finally, a waterproof and windproof outer layer, like a high-quality winter jacket and pants, protects against the elements.
If you’re traveling with young kids, a one-piece snowsuit can be an excellent choice. It keeps them warm and dry and can be easier to manage than separate pants and jackets.
Young children may struggle with traditional gloves. Insulated mittens keep their fingers together and are generally easier for kids to manage.
Remember that staying warm starts with good base layers and extends to your extremities, so it’s essential to be well-prepared with the right clothing for your Lapland adventure.
9. Snow Play and Winter Sports
Besides the popular activities mentioned earlier, Lapland offers excellent opportunities for snowball fights, building snowmen, and simply enjoying the snow-covered landscapes.
Many resorts and accommodations have designated areas for snow play. Additionally, Lapland boasts some world-class downhill skiing and snowboarding resorts for families who enjoy alpine sports.
Lapland experiences short daylight hours in the winter, with some days having only a few hours of sunlight. Plan your activities accordingly and be prepared for a cosy, candlelit atmosphere in the evenings.
10. Memorable Souvenirs
Lapland offers a range of unique souvenirs like Sami handicrafts, reindeer-hide products, and artisanal gifts that you can bring home as mementos of your winter adventure.
In and around Santa Claus Village, there are a variety of shops selling holiday-themed gifts, souvenirs, and traditional Finnish crafts. It’s an excellent place to find unique and memorable gifts for loved ones.
For photography enthusiasts, capturing the Northern Lights can be a thrilling challenge. Lapland’s dramatic snowy landscapes serve as a perfect backdrop for photographs of the auroras. Some tours even offer photography tips and equipment rental.
Planning a family holiday in Lapland during the winter can be an extraordinary journey filled with enchanting experiences and a deep connection to the Arctic environment. To make the most of your trip, consider how many days you would like to explore the region of Lapland, where would you rather stay (hotel,, igloo, chalet) and what types of activities your family wants to do once you’re there.
That way, your family will enjoy a safe and memorable winter getaway in Lapland!
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