Snow and ice design and architecture

The surroundings of snow and ice for approx. 7 months a year in Lapland has inspired the Lappish people to create ways and methods to take advantage of that fact. There are several occasions during winter that are related to snow or ice, like art exhibitions, buildings and happenings.

Snow and ice buildings and happenings related to snow are of course depending on the weather conditions, but with many years of experiences there have not been great problems so far. The winter is cold and snowy in Lapland.

A building that this year raises for the 19th time is the SnowCastle in the town of Kemi, about 100 km from Rovaniemi by the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. The SnowCastle is already under construction and will be opened on January 25th 2014. The SnowCastle has different themes and both contents and architecture vary every year. Inside the castle there are light-effects on the ice-sculptures and the constructions. The SnowCastle will be open daily until the season ends on April 6th. This date could change depending on the weather conditions. Reservations can be done for the restaurant and for the chapel. Many couples get married here during the season. These pictures are from the SnowCastle in 2007.





The snow-building is also represented at the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi. Every year there is something made of snow and ice. Even a whole log house made of only ice with an ice bar was built there in winter 2008-2009. 




The Arctice Winter Wonderland with long snow slopes and a playground for children at the Arctic Circle is very popular. This year they have expanded with a building containing ice bar, art gallery and ice hotel.

In SantaPark you can visit the ice gallery. There are sculptures of wild animals living in the arctic regions. Last year’s visitor was Sid from the Ice Age movies. This year Niko the reindeer is visiting the Ice Gallery of SantaPark. There you can also meet the Ice Princess, try to sit on her throne and have a cold drink in glasses made from ice.




At the Lapland University there is a Snow Design Project running under the Faculty of Art and Design and the University has the knowledge of snow design that it wants to export to other parts of the world.

Earlier projects of snow design in Rovaniemi are such as these:

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Many hotels around Lapland offer the customers possibilities to sleep in an igloo in combination to a hotel room. The night in an igloo is an extraordinary experience where you also get a certificate. You are provided with warm clothes and sleeping bags, the beds are comfortable and you always have the possibility to return into your hotel room if you find the igloo night too challenging.



At the Arctic Circle outside Rovaniemi, near the house of Santa Claus a new world, Arctice Winter World, has opened its doors this winter. You enter the world through the wooden house and for an entrance fee you can visit the ice bar with spectacular ice sculptures and the igloo hotel, everything made of just snow and ice. Outside the igloos there is a huge icy slope for downhill tobogganing.



The Arctice Winter world opened on December 5th, 2013 and is planned to keep open until the end of March this year. I was amazed by the igloo hotel. There were several rooms of different size and all with its special ice decorations on the walls. The beds looked tempting with comfortable madrasses. You can book a room on the home page and you get a sleeping bag to use. The walls in the hall are also decorated with outstanding sculptures.

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All over the Arctice Winter world there were special colored lights. After the entrance you enter into the ice bar and café. On real reindeer hides the whole family can enjoy non-alcoholic or alcoholic warm or cold drinks. Cold drinks can also be served in real ice glasses.

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The magical world of SantaPark in Lapland

A visit to SantaPark in Rovaniemi will surely be a memorable experience. As I visited the grotto for the first time I could not believe my eyes! The elves and Santa Claus and the fairy-tale around this world with its everlasting Christmas is so amazing! I keep returning to the cave on and on, together with family and friends and I think they also have got the real Christmas spirit from the visits in here. Most of the visitors are visitors from foreign countries, but Santa Claus would be happy to see more of his Finnish friends, too. There are elves all over the park with large language skills helping the visitors.

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The walk from the entry of the Home Cavern of Santa Claus along the shadowy corridor down to the heart of the cavern is a walk that will fill you with expectations and no matter what age you are, you are little by little, step by step, transformed into someone, who definitely believes in Santa Claus and the stories around him.

SantaPark is an amusement park with Christmas theme open around Christmas from the end of November to the middle of January and also in the summer from the end of June to the middle of August.

The history around the foundation of SantaPark tells that Santa Claus once wandered around in the forest of Syväsenvaara just outside Rovaniemi in the sunshine of the nightless night in the summer and the beauty of the forest touched his heart very much. He then came up with the idea to build an underground network of caves here where he could welcome friends from all over the world.

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The first things you will see are the friendly welcoming smiles of some happy elves living down here. You can meet Santa himself in his own office, you can attend a 20 minute lasting Elf School, where the Professor Elf in person will teach you some ancient Elf skills and you can meet the cheerful Mrs Gingerbread in her Kitchen and help her to decorate an incredibly tasty gingerbread, made with the secret recipe of Mrs Claus.



There is also a magical train ready to take you on a magical journey through the four seasons of Finland ending up in the Toy Workshop, where elves are busy making gifts for Christmas. You can of course do your Christmas shopping from the Elves in the Shopping area before you leave the cave.

You have to prepare yourself to spend several hours here, to have the chance to see everything. Every now and then there are announcements made over the loudspeakers just so you know where there is something going on that has a schedule to follow. For example the ElfSchool takes place at special times during the day, but do not worry if you miss one; there are several more opportunities to attend during the day. The magical Elf show takes place three times per day on the stage in the center of the cave. The show is a twenty-minute lasting dance show with an interactive part where all children (and childish) could take part in the end. All other activities are going on all through the day and you can choose yourself where to go and in what order.

There are always elves fooling around behind every corner. They do just anything to amuse you and make your visit a life-long experience.


As you visit the icy world, the Ice Gallery, of the Ice Princess she will tell you tales of Finnish nature and mythology as she guides you around among the ice sculptures and if you ask, she will even tell you how she is related to Santa Claus. The Ice Princess is so beautiful and her appearance touches you and makes you feel calm in the middle of all the exciting things you experience in the park during your visit.


In the Post Office you can send greetings home, in the Angry Birds’ Park there are activities for the children and in the Elf Workshop you can make your own Santa or try the CalligraphySchool and learn how to do writing with real ink. Have I forgotten anything now?

As you spend several hours in the park you will probably eventually be both hungry and thirsty and for that there is the Restaurant, a Champagne Bar and in the Gingerbread Kitchen you can except for the big gingerbread also get all kinds of drinks; coffee, tee, hot chocolate, juice and even strong spirit drinks. Mrs Gingerbread will definitely try to make you taste the very special Christmas drink in Finland, the hot, spiced berry juice. After tasting, instead of having a cup of coffee many visitors prefer the hot spiced berry juice, the Glögi, with or without alcohol.

I have heard a story there was once a British family on a week long trip to Finland. The family ended up visiting SantaPark and in there also the Gingerbread Kitchen. Their little 5-year old boy was excited decorating the gingerbread and as it was done he wanted to taste it. The parents were just looking at him eating up the whole, big gingerbread. They explained to Mrs Gingerbread this cookie was the only thing this child had been eating for several days (!) He never found anything he liked to eat before he came to this magical world and got the taste of Mrs Claus’ gingerbread. The parents were so thankful, but Mrs Gingerbread did not see that as something so special; every child just loves her gingerbread!