Santa Claus Village, 96930 Rovaniemi, Finland
GPS: 66.54189755045, 25.842455254462
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).