‘Tis the season of snow, carols and merry-making. ‘Tis the season of Rudolph the reindeer and Santa Claus. As children and adults both rejoice in the festive Christmas spirit with the little ones hanging their socks over the mantle, we wonder what’s brewing at the Santa Claus village in Finland, the land of the midnight sun.
Rovaniemi is the official Santa village, located in Finland, close to the Arctic Circle. And it is Christmas here all year round. This is where Santa Claus stays, packs your gifts and hosts magical Christmas exhibitions and other events for kids and adults on all 365 days. With a mission to spread Christmas love and cheer, amplify the well-being of children and the kindness of elders, the Santa Claus village has various services and major attractions throughout the year making the magical Arctic Circle even more dazzling.
From making paw-some friends at the Arctic Circle Husky Park to petting winter animals at the Elf’s Farmyard Petting Zoo, this is the ideal location to unleash your inner child and spend a jolly good quality time with family. With so many things to take you back to the pages of fairytales, get ready to relive your childhood like never before. While at the Santa Claus village, never find yourself in a dull moment as there are many programme service companies, souvenir shops, numerous cafes and restaurants to satiate your hunger pangs and of course Santa’s Main Post Office — one of the major attractions — in Santa Claus Village.
Planning to visit Rovaniemi? Check out what to do, things to see and other details about the village
Where does Santa Claus stay?
Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland is all things that dreams are made of. Blanketed with soft willowy snow and air that smells of Christmas from the moment you touch down, this official hometown of the world’s most loved man transports you to the pages of bedtime storybooks that you read on Christmas eve.
At Santa’s village, cross the Arctic Circle Line to meet Father Christmas and his reindeer at their splendid best. Located inside the main village building, the Christmas house is where you can meet Santa all year long. Though entry is free, there are certain opening hours when you can visit. While here, if you wish, pointy red-hatted elves can capture these memories on paper or USB or both.
You can also meet Santa Claus in his main office, situated right in the middle of Rovaniemi. Age is just a number for all those visiting this picturesque place and sharing stories with the red-and-white-clad man. The office has been open since 1992 and reveals some of his mysteries and tricks. One of the most important well-kept secrets is Earth’s rotation speed regulator. The exact address of Christmas House is Joulumaantie 1, Rovaniemi, Finland.
And, while you are busy making such fond memories, the elves can freeze these cherished times. You can purchase them on your way out of the Santa Claus village, and entry is free.
Santa’s main post office
Move over your regular postal orders when you come to meet Santa Claus. Here, at Santa village, the Christmas spirit is in full swing in the post office as well, which makes even the most mundane job so cheerful.
Santa’s main post office is a fully functional post office working all year round, that lets you send letters, gift parcels, cards and postcards right from the Arctic Circle and see a smile on your loved ones’ faces as they receive special Arctic Circle postmark stamped letters, posted by elves right before Christmas. All letters put in the red post box here are held and sent for Christmas itself. And, entry is free.
You can also send a special Santa Claus Letter from the Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi which is especially sent by Santa in time for Christmas. If you wish to write to Santa, his official hometown address is Tähtikuja 1, 96930 Rovaniemi, Finland. Interestingly, Santa receives over half a million letters from all over the world.
Mrs Claus’ house and reindeer
A visit to Rovaniemi must include stopping by Mrs Claus’ quaint wooden cottage, which is located inside the Santa Claus Reindeer resort. The kind and sweet Mrs Claus is forever ready to welcome guests of all ages with a warm smile and is happy to chat with them. She can gladly whip up a quick batch of gingerbread or Christmas cookies and host events at her breathtaking cottage, while the elves are quick to lend a helping hand.
There is an entry fee to Mrs Claus’ cottage with fixed opening hours. Separate bookings also need to be done to speak and click photos with her. The cottage also provides a scintillating setting to host private events and weddings, and can accommodate about 150 heads. The Santa Claus Reindeer resort is also home to delectable Arctic cuisine and houses the famed Lapland Restaurant Kotahovi.
Visit Santa Claus village and be stunned to see the sheer size of the giant reindeer that call this freezing tundra their home. You can enjoy sleigh rides and reindeer safaris under the theatrical northern lights that dazzle the night sky.
Reindeer Resort, Husky Park and Elf’s Farmyard
Now you can dash through the snow in an open sleigh over the hills, not just in the carol, but in real life too. A trip to Santa Claus village is incomplete without seeing the diverse range of animals such as reindeer, alpaca, huskies and rabbits in their tundra habitat.
At the Santa Claus Reindeer Resort, you can indulge in all sorts of reindeer activities including sleigh rides, safaris under the northern lights and reindeer walks. The resort also operates the Mount Porovaara reindeer farm, located to the south of Rovaniemi about 20 km from the village.
The rides, long safaris and excursions to the countryside are offered in winter and you can actually obtain a reindeer driving licence. But no need to be disheartened if you are coming in summer. You can go on walks with these beasts and enjoy other summertime activities at the farm.
The Arctic Circle Husky Park in Rovaniemi is another unique unmissable attraction here. Operated by a family-run company, the park is home to innumerable Siberian huskies and offers a glimpse of how the huskies are tended, cared and bred. The cute and cuddly furballs are agile and are best fit to tackle subzero temperatures. What’s even better is that they love children and children love them too. Get up close to these animals, hug and pet them, peek into their daily lives, click photos and even go on a sled ride.
Another company service in Santa Claus Village, the Elf’s Farmyard offers a range of fun outdoor activities with the Lappish animals. When visitors from across the globe come here, they forget their age and become kids while around these beautiful animals amid such a breathtaking setting. From taking guided walks in the woods with alpacas and reindeer to grilling sausages and spending quality time with kids, the Elf’s Farmyard ensures you have equal fun and adventures both in December and August.
Santa Park activities and Roosevelt Cottage
It is quite understandable that Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi is an entire world in itself, straight out of a postcard. Besides meeting Father Christmas and playing with the animals and marvelling under the northern lights, Santa Park is beaming with activities at every turn.
Visit the Elf Hat Academy, take part in elf school and learn some trade secrets and indulge in some classic snowy adventures such as sleigh pulling, aurora borealis viewing and snow-water dipping. Every resort offers their range of activities and diverse adventure joyrides that will leave you completely spoilt for choice.
At Santa Claus Village you can also get a certificate for crossing the magical Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle is a latitude that runs 66°33′45.9″ north of the Equator. It is the southernmost latitude where the sun can remain below or above the horizon for 24 hours, giving rise to the phenomena called the Midnight Sun during summer and the Polar Night (or Kaamos in the local language) during winter.
Interestingly, the entire Santa Claus Village started to grow centering this wooden cabin after the second world war. Built for Eleanor Roosevelt in 1950, the former US First Lady who was the US delegate to the UN General Assembly between 1945 and 1952, this cottage marks the US-Finland ties as it helped in streamlining tourists and boosting the economy after the horrors of the war subsided.
Snowman World Winter Zone and Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
The fun and frolic don’t end just yet in Santa Claus Village. Enter the Snowman World resort and enjoy all the ice slides and ice skating. The resort also houses a jaw-dropping ice restaurant and ice bar offering exquisite Finnish cuisine and lip-smacking drinks.
Want to try something heart-racing? Get some more adrenaline rushing through your veins as you zoom over vast snow fields on snowmobile vehicles. The Arctic Snowmobile Park is a family-run business that offers safaris through snow-filled forests, hiking to find aurora borealis or seeing the midnight. Their impeccable customer service and personal care is sure to make your trip one of a lifetime.
Dining and shopping
Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi is also a haven for foodies. The Snow restaurant at the Snowman World serves three-course lunch and dinner daily.
Feast with your eyes too as the place is filled with amazing ice sculptures, rebuilt every year with fresh snow and ice which modifies the decorations adorning the snowy walls. The resort also houses the Ice Disco — an adult-only bar ensuring a groovy party and delicious drinks served in ice glasses. However, if you are in the mood for some light nibbles, head to the warm café Ensilumi.
Other dining options include dining in a glass igloo at the Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos — one of the world’s biggest snow hotels, about 30 km from the village, and The Glass Restaurant offering fine Lapland flavours with a stunning view of soft pillowy snow falling.
Bring back a slice of Rovaniemi when you shop for souvenirs and small gift items from the various stalls and boutiques inside Santa Claus village. They are abundant in local handicrafts, Finnish jewellery and chocolates as well as have designer labels.
How to reach Santa Claus village, where to stay and the best time to go
Reaching Santa Claus Village is very easy from prominent locations in Lapland, Finland. Located about 8 km from Rovaniemi city centre and 3 km from Rovaniemi airport, the village is situated towards Ivalo on highway 4. One can also avail local bus number 8 to reach the site.
There are a number of stay options close to Santa Claus village.
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Anytime is a good time to visit Rovaniemi as different months offer different kinds of beautiful views and activities.
(Main and feature Image: courtesy Santa Claus Village)
This story first appeared here.