The end of the Polar night and Travel Fair 2014

Today, on January 17th, the Polar night or Kaamos is over in Finland for this time. In the northernmost village of Finland, in Nuorgam, the sun rose above the horizon today for about one minute at 12.04, local time. The temperature in Nuorgam is at the moment -33 C; you could say the sun is not yet warming up at all….

IMG_1488

In Rovaniemi we have -23 C and I just returned from a nice, refreshing walk in the snowy environment with a clear sky full of stars above our heads. No sights of northern lights, though.

IMG_8669

At the same time Finland is planning for the next tourist season, spring and summer 2014. The travel fair Matka 2014 in Fair Center in Helsinki on 17-19.1.2014, is the biggest travel fair in Northern Europe. In the domestic part of the fair the local places to visit are represented, but there is also a part of the fair for foreign targets. With exhibitors from over 80 countries there is a lot to see! You can also vote for the best excursion place of 2014. You can of course choose between several places in Lapland, too. To vote, go to the site: www.goexpo.fi.

IMG_4065

IMG_2203

VisitRovaniemi, the tourist board of Rovaniemi, takes of course part in the fair as usual. You could visit the stand number 7K51 and learn about the new plans for the coming seasons. SantaPark and Joulukka are of course also represented there and they also want to present their new spa and sauna facilities, Metsäkyly, where you can get experiences from original Finnish sauna, get treatments, jump into an ice-cold lake and learn all about sauna traditions in Finland. Check out the homepage to learn more.

metsäkyly

metsäkyly2

 

h&m

What is Santa Claus doing in summer time?

In summer Santa and his elves are of course busy preparing for the upcoming Christmas and making Christmas gifts to all children all over the world, but they do have time to rest, too. They spend a lot of time outdoors in the beautiful nature of Lapland, they enjoy the midnight-sun and go fishing. Santa also goes fishing, but he never catch anything. The reason for that is that Santa never uses a hook when he is fishing. He never hunts, either. Santa loves all animals and the animals love him. He cannot see any reason to do hunting and fishing.

Santa’s reindeer are all out in the forest during summer, so he does not have to take care of them and he has a lot of spare time when he can do other nice things.

Santa summer

Santa fishingSanta goes fishing just to sit in a boat out on a lake, on a lake’s shore or on a river’s shore and enjoy the quietness of the surrounding Lapland forest. He thinks it is a perfect time to do some thinking and remembering about pleasant times and happy people he met during Christmas, on these fishing trips. He also walks in the forest and listens to the voices of the wilderness. He also spends time preparing the next Christmas delivery by reading children’s letters. He gets letters from children all year around, not only before Christmas. He also likes to read books on his free time. He is very amused by books that claim to reveal “the secrets” about him. He thinks it could be of importance for him to know what people are talking about out there before they come to visit him in his office.

Santa also enjoys swimming in the clear water of Lapland lakes in the summer. He also sometimes goes swimming in the winter through a hole in the ice, but the hole has to be chopped quite big then. One of Santa’s favourite things to do is to take short naps now and then. The summer nights in Lapland are so light with the midnight sun, so it is hard for both people and elves to sleep during the nights. That is one reason to take short naps during the daytime.

In summer Santa also opens up his favourite cavern, SantaPark, just outside Rovaniemi city. The park is open during Christmas season, but Santa has decided to open it in the summer, too, so children who do not have time to visit him on Christmas could get a chance to meet him and his crazy elves in summer. This year SantaPark opens it door on June 17th at 10 am and the cavern is open every day except for Sundays and June 22nd during the summer until August 10th. Check the home page for more detailed program and other information.

IMG_2139 IMG_2154 IMG_2156

This summer Santa has renewed the One Hundred Years Curriculum Elf School in SantaPark. It is a top secret until you attend the Elf school yourself and find out what it is. I can’t wait to learn the new things in Elf school! It would be nice to meet the tallest and the shortest Professor Elf of SantaPark once again!

IMG_2044

On the opening day, June 17th, you can watch the Niko – the reindeer-movie “Little Brother, big trouble” on the main stage at 2 pm. The Ice Gallery of Santa Park has also been renewed this summer. You might spot some familiar figures from the movie there.

Here is a link to a short movie telling what Santa Claus does in the summer time, on times he does not sit in his cavern meeting interesting guests from all over the world. http://www.santatelevision.com/santa-claus/santa-claus-summer/

IMG_2200The Santa Claus village is open every day also during summer, and you can cross the Arctic Circle just outside Santa Claus’ office. In summer you can see the white line marking the Arctic Circle, which is covered by snow in winter time.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_2901 IMG_8441

 

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.

IMG_0329 IMG_2139

IMG_2148

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.

IMG_2885

IMG_4470

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.

IMG_2035

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.

IMG_0330

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!

Some interesting places in Rovaniemi to start with

Rovaniemi and its sights

A good start when you want to explore Lapland is to visit Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland. That was the way I started. After I first arrived I started strolling around along the streets in the city center, visited parks and walked along the riverside of Kemijoki. Kemijoki is the river flowing down from the northeast of Lapland and it joins together with Ounasjoki; the river that flows down to Rovaniemi from the northwest. Kemijoki river flows right through the city of Rovaniemi and the riversides of Kemijoki are often objects to happenings in Rovaniemi.

I am not going to deeper describe where Rovaniemi is and what is called Lapland in the land of Finland. I presume the information about these facts are found on other web pages. I am simply going to describe to you how to get along in Rovaniemi and other places i Lapland. I am going to tell you about my excursions and visits and the things I have been doing here. As I have lived here for about 7 years now I think I am very well capable of doing that to you.

In the center of Rovaniemi you can visit the magnificent Museum Arktikum; the Lapland history museum, which is also an Arctic Science Center. As a newcomer in Rovaniemi and Lapland you find a lot of useful information there. It is a good place to start. The history of Rovaniemi is amazing. Not the least the fact it was burned down by the Germans in the end of WW II. After visiting Arktikum you know a lot more why the city of Rovaniemi has become what it is today. In the museum there is a map of the city showing how it looked like before and after the second world war.

IMG_4449

The big bridge that joins the city of Rovaniemi to the east part of the city where the Ounasvaara hill is situated, is called the “Lumberjack Candle Bridge”. It symbolizes the workers who used to work hard in the forests many years ago. The light highest up on the bridge symbolizes the fire the lumberjacks used to keep to warm them up and give them light in the forest camps.

IMG_2141

Close to Arktikum you fin also Pilke; a center for northern forest science. Rovaniemi and Lapland have a long history with forest industries and lumber jacks. The exhibition in Pilke is really interesting, and there is something for everyone and for every age! You can even sing karaoke in there and play with small cars or pretend you are a hunter and shoot down birds and animals in the wood.

Did you know the city plan of Rovaniemi is named the “reindeer antler plan”? The famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto made the reconstruction plan for the city after it was destroyed by the Germans in 1944-45. The plan has a shape of a reindeer’s head with its horns. I do not know of any other city plan that is that interesting and exclusive!

The Art Museum of Rovaniemi you find in the Korundi house of Culture on Lapinkävijäntie 4 in the city center. In the art museum there are changing interesting exhibitions and the culture house offers all kinds of concerts and there is always some upcoming event to look forward to. Check out the event calendar on the home page of Korundi.

Rovaniemi is also called the official home town of Santa Claus. Outside the city center, along road nr 4, on the Arctic circle, on your way towards north and Ivalo, you find the Santa Claus Village. There you can visit Santa every single day during the year, get a photo together with Santa and also listen to Christmas carols and shop for Christmas decorations all the year round. During winter season you can also see reindeer there and go for reindeer and husky rides around in the village. Nearby Santa’s office is also the Santa Claus Post office, where all the letters from children all over the world arrive. The letters are sorted by the elves according to from which country they are sent and Santa himself answers the letters.

IMG_2861

Within walking distance from Santa Claus Village is SantaPark. The amazing amusement park down in a cave is open during winter from the end of November to the middle of January. During the summer season it is open for visitors from the end of June to the middle of August. This video from inside SantaPark shows you a little of what to expect of your visit there. Definitely worth a visit! You will get the real Christmas spirit and forget about all the other world outside the cave. The elves will take you for a fairytale trip you never will forget.

20101221_9999_72

IMG_2854