It’s a question every kid asks their parents at some point: “Can we visit Santa Claus at the North Pole?” The answer, it turns out, is “sort of,” and the location, Finnish Lapland, has plenty to keep kids and grownups happy.
Yes, Virginia, you can visit Santa Claus. His workshop is not quite at the North Pole, but it sure is close. At the northern end of the Scandinavian Peninsula, in the Artic Circle, Finnish Lapland is home to frozen lakes, beautiful Arctic foxes, wolves, wolverines, and, of course, nearly 200,000 reindeer. And Santa Claus.
IS SANTA CLAUS REALLY IN FINNISH LAPLAND?
The surprising answer for anyone who has had “the talk,” is yes. Santa Claus Village, in Finnish Lapland’s capital, Rovaniemi, is home to Saint Nick, his elves, a series of Christmas-themed caves, and even a reindeer farm. (Psst: Don’t tell the kids, but reindeer meat is a staple up here.)
WHAT DO YOU DO IN FINNISH LAPLAND?
Aside from hobnobbing with Santa, the incredible Northern Lights are the main attraction, viewable about 200 nights each year - the native Sami people call the aurora borealis “foxfire,” based on a legend that the lights are caused by an Arctic fox running through the snow. You can also go dog-sledding and skiing. If you visit in summer, you’ll experience one of the most dramatic “midnight suns” on earth.
IS FINNISH LAPLAND A POPULAR TRAVEL DESTINATION?
You bet, usually for travelers who fly to Helsinki and plan to spend a week or more exploring Finland. But flights from the U.S. to Santa’s workshop in the Finnish Lapland capital, Rovaniemi, start at a relatively reasonable $600 on Finnair. Lodging in Rovaniemi starts well under $150/night.