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Santa Claus Village

A child’s Garden of Eden

Address

Santa Claus Village, 96930 Rovaniemi, Finland

GPS: 66.54189755045, 25.842455254462

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Santa Claus Village is in Napapiirin, 10 kilometres northeast of the city centre of Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland. Some people are critical about the theme park’s commercialism. However, it still has a magical atmosphere with its careful layout, location coinciding with the Arctic Circle (Napapiirin in Finnish) and 183 days of snow a year.

Unlike American popular culture, which places Santa Claus at the North Pole, European folklore locates his residence in northern Europe. According to Finnish tradition, Santa Claus, accompanied by his elves and reindeer, lives in a remote area on the border with Russia. This secret location is said to be on the hill of Korvatunturi (“Ear Fell” in Finnish) in the Urho Kekkonen National Park. Santa Claus Village was created in 1985 in Northern Finland, some 30 years after Eleanor Roosevelt had visited the region for a holiday. The wife of former US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the former First Lady of the United States is still considered the first official tourist by the local Finnish authorities. The promoters explain that Santa Claus decided to settle in the Rovaniemi area to make it a permanent meeting place for children from all over the world.

The Napapiirin polar area, consisting of two areas dedicated to the magic of Christmas (Santa Claus Village and Santa Park), gradually became one of Santa’s favourite destinations from the 1980s onwards. This Finnish region, which receives plenty of snow and ice, is en-route to the North Cape (Nordkapp, one of the northernmost points in Europe, located in Norway). The Rovaniemi area is also known for its bright nights in the warm season (the midnight sun occurs from 6 June to 7 July) and dark days in the winter (ideal conditions for observing the northern lights between September and March).

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  • Meeting Father Christmas “Santa Claus”
  • Crossing the Arctic Circle and visiting Santa Claus’ Main Post Office
  • The underground cave system in Santa Park with workshops, Christmas shops and activities for children (elf school, calligraphy workshops, cooking workshops with Mother Christmas, train ride…)
  • The many outdoor activities around Rovaniemi: ski jumping, tobogganing, sauna, peat baths, snowmobiling, ice carving, ice skating, ice climbing, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, ice fishing, snowboarding…
  • A visit to the ice bar, the igloo hotel and the ice gallery at Snowman World
  • Ice Park play area; Husky Park dog sled rides; reindeer sled rides; reindeer farm visits; Syväsenvaara observation tower
  • The magical Joulukka Forest, home to Santa’s elves and helpers (15 kilometres from Rovaniemi); the pine forests and wooden chalets characteristic of the Lapland; the tundra, moorland and fir forests; the Kemijoki River and the Ounasjoki River, which irrigate the city of Rovaniemi
  • The nearby ski resort of Ounasvaara (Ounasvaaran Hiihtokeskus Oy) with its 800-metre-long toboggan run
  • The polar nights in winter; the spectacle of the Northern Lights, frequent and beautiful in these latitudes; the midnight sun in summer; the hospitality and culture of the Sami people
  • Lapland is the largest and most northerly region in Finland. It also extends into the neighbouring countries of Sweden and Norway. The Arctic Circle line is marked in Santa Claus Village. By crossing it, visitors find themselves in the Arctic zone.
  • In addition to Finland, other countries in the world claim Santa Claus as their home, including Norway, Denmark, Canada, the USA and Russia.
  • The Lapland War conflict at the end of the Second World War (1944-45) between German troops and the Finnish army resulted in the destruction of almost the entire town of Rovaniemi (90% of the buildings were demolished). The Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was responsible for designing the city’s new urban plans based on the shape of a reindeer.
  • The unexpected visit of Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1950s contributed greatly to the media coverage of Rovaniemi (she came to see and support the post-war reconstruction efforts of the town). Informed a week before the arrival of the former First Lady of the United States, the Finnish authorities hurriedly built a log cabin to welcome and accommodate her (it still exists and is located in the heart of Santa Claus Village).
  • In Rovaniemi, Santa’s office has a live broadcast on the Internet. The post office in Santa’s village receives about 500,000 letters a year from children all over the world (1/5 of them from China).
  • About 200 natural aurora borealis phenomena can be seen all year round around Rovaniemi (winter offers the best conditions for viewing the Northern Lights).
  • In the last 30 years, global warming has caused the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of reindeer in Lapland (temperatures are rising twice as fast as the global average).
  • Another large theme park is being planned 20 kilometres north-east of Rovaniemi, within the Arctic Circle. It would be the northernmost theme park in the world and could be worth a billion euros. Spectacular buildings such as a giant transparent dome capable of producing artificial snow and the Northern Lights, hotels, restaurants and the world’s largest sauna complex, are being planned. The project aims to welcome 10 million visitors a year, compared with 90,000 tourists a year in Rovaniemi.
  • Rovaniemi has an airport that can also be reached by train from Helsinki (10 hours by direct train). From the city centre, the No. 8 bus or the Santa Express train serves Santa Claus Village (entrance to the village is free, unlike Santa Park).
  • If you plan to visit Rovaniemi during the high season (December to early January), book your transport, accommodation and activities early. It is well worthwhile to spend a few days in the Rovaniemi area because of all the activities on offer.
  • Remember, that while the climate is not polar, some winter days are very cold, especially in February when the thermometer has been known to plunge down to -47.5°C. The climate is icy on windy days and difficult for children to handle.
  • Santa Claus receives visitors in his personal office (free entrance and visit to the Santa Claus Village). It will not be possible to photograph, film or record your meeting with him. Santa Claus is not present all the time.
  • If you don’t have time to send a letter to Santa from home in the run-up to the festive season, you can correspond with him by e-mail (info@santaclausoffice.com).
  • By sending your letters to your relatives at Santa Claus’ Main Post Office, they will be stamped North Pole.

Where to eat

  • Shell Helmisimpukka
    (cheap food)
  • Cafe Kauppayhtio
    (burger restaurant)
  • Lapland Restaurant Kotahovi
    (magical setting)

Where to go

  • Arktikum
    (local museum and science centre)
  • Hiidenkirnut
    (natural chasms)
  • Lapland Welcome
    (Lapland safaris)

Where to stay

  • The Blueberry
    (in the countryside)
  • Lomavekarit
    (with sauna)
  • Ounasvaaran Lakituvat Chalets
    (comfortable chalets)

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