How many kids can say they have been to the real Santa’s Village? Not many outside of Finland.
There is no need to wait by the chimney with cookies, hoping to see this elusive character.
These days Santa is much less secretive. If you want to meet him, all you have to do is pack up the kids and make the long voyage to his workshop in the Arctic north.
It will be a once-in-a-lifetime treat that your children will never forget.
Gateway to the North Pole
Santa’s Village opened to the public in 1992 and has welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests since then.
It is located in an enchanting forest outside of Rovaniemi, the capital of the Lapland, Finland’s northernmost province and commonly called the ”Gateway to the Arctic.”
There are only about 185,000 people in that large region and more than 200,000 reindeer, making it the perfect place for our red-clad jolly friend to call home.
Sit on Santa’s Lap
Santa has a big, beautiful office with an atmosphere of Christmas cheer.
Children can sit on his lap, tug on his beard, pass him their wish list or whisper it in his ear.
Have they been naughty or nice? Santa will find out! Your kids can meet Santa in his workshop almost every day of the year, even Christmas.
This fairy tale theme park is where all the fun happens. Santa Park is an impressive underground network of caves built inside a big hill.
This is where you will find the elves working busily in Santa’s workshop, Mrs. Claus’ Gingerbread Kitchen, the Ice Princess Gallery, the Giant Snow Globe and the Post Office.
It also has reindeer sleigh rides and some slides.
Credit: Marianna Novicka
Meet the Elves
Do you want to be an elf and help Santa?
You can attend Elf School and learn some great skills before graduating with your official certificate. Then you can go to the Elves Workshop and try creating your own Christmas trinkets.
Santa’s Post Office
Santa’s Post Office is one of the busiest places in the village.
Of course it receives countless letters from all over the world. Send a letter to your friends back home with a special stamp.
Sit by the fire while you write your Christmas list.
You can also buy Christmas cards, stamps and plenty of souvenirs.
The Arctic Circle cuts right through Santa’s Village and a white line denoting it is painted across the park. Visitors officially enter the Arctic area when they cross the line, which is a popular photo spot.
Visit the Christmas Exhibition to see the history and traditions of different cultures around the world.
Head to the reindeer farm and take a sleigh ride.
Visit Arctice with its ice bar, slide and carousel.
And if you just can’t seem to leave, book a room at the Santa Claus Holiday Village. If you have been good, you can stay as long as you like!
When To Go
You can visit Santa all year round, but the best time to go is in December and as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
The average Lapland winter temperature is 23°F (-5°C), but it’s not rare for temperatures to drop below -40°F (-40°C). Winter starts in October and lasts until April. Heavy snowfall is common.
Getting There & Around
Fly to Helsinki International Airport, located 515 miles (830km) south of Rovaniemi. Get a connecting flight to Rovaniemi Airport located 5 miles (8km) from the city center. Alternatively you can take the 10-13 hour train ride from Helsinki.
- Mid-range accommodations: $100-150
- Meals: $20-40
- Beer: $6
- Order a Santa Claus Letter, which will be sent by Santa Claus just before Christmas. All mail will be stamped by hand using the special postmark of the Santa Claus Post Office.
- Visit Kemi and stay at the Snow Castle, the biggest in the world. While you are there, go on the country’s only icebreaking ship tour.
- Check out the Arktikumot science center and museum, which presents the wonderful world of the Arctic circle.
- Visit between September and April as that is the best time to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis.
- Forget to take pictures with Santa and another of yourself crossing the Arctic Circle!
- Forget to bang the drum three times before giving your Christmas letter to the post office. It will help your wishes come true!
- Expect to do your Christmas shopping there, prices are very high in Santa’s Village.
- Rovaniemi Santa Village receives about 150,000 visitors every winter. Santa himself goes to almost 30 countries, and receives about 700,000 letters, and all get answered by him, personally.
- You can send a letter to Santa Claus using this address: Santa Claus, Santa Claus Main Post Office, FI-96930 Arctic Circle.
- Santa Claus FC, the soccer (football) club, was third in the Finnish Football League. It donates all income to charities.
- The native language in Lapland is Sámi. Of the ten Sámi languages, three are spoken in Finland: North Sámi, Inari Sámi and Skolt Sámi and Inari Sámi is only spoken there.
Feature Image Credit: KirsiJohanna