Do you know where Santa lives?
When I put these newsletters together, I like to learn something new about the places I write about. This week I learned that there is not one North Pole, but actually two North Poles. There is the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole. This is true north as in as far north as you can possibly go.
The other North Pole is the Magnetic North Pole. This is where the planet’s magnetic field points vertically downwards. Apparently, this is not a fixed point on the planet. It can move over time to distances that can be over 100 miles apart.
Something else of interest is that if you were to take a vacation to the North Pole, you would not find Santa there. Santa actually lives in Rovaniemi, Finland, 1,624.35 miles away from the Geographic North Pole.
Rovaniemi Finland is pretty far North and is inside the arctic circle. Winter temperatures can range from lows of 4 degrees Fahrenheit to highs of 32 degrees. In July, the high point of summer, the temperatures will range between 54 and 71 degrees.
If you are planning on visiting Rovaniemi, it is normally pretty easy to get to. Finland’s third-largest airport is located in Rovaniemi. You can catch flights from the United States. There is currently a 10-day quarantine restriction for people visiting Finland. That restriction does not apply to U.S. citizens because we are not allowed to visit at all, at least until January 12, 2021, when Finland will re-evaluate their covid-19 restrictions.
Once you can get there, it is a beautiful place to visit.
Wintertime in Finland has the shortest amount of daylight. We are talking as little as six hours from sunrise to sunset. Even with the short days, there is plenty to do in this winter wonderland. The standard outdoor activities like skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and going to the zoo are options. There are also more locally-oriented activities such as seeing the Northern Lights, reindeer sleigh rides, photography tours, and winter swimming.
Summertime has the longest daylight. In July, you can expect the sun to start rising about 4:00am and staying out until around 10:30pm. Outdoor activities during this time of year consist of river cruises, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, golf, and other water sports.
In the Springtime the winter ice starts to thin out and eventually fade away. Flowers start to bloom, reindeer will start having calves, and summer is coming up around the corner. Many winter activities will give way to summer activities at this time.
When Fall comes around it will be harvest season. The trees will start to turn, the days will start getting shorter, and you will be able to start seeing the Northern Lights as fall approaches winter.
There are lots of indoor activities here as well. The Korundi House of Culture is comprised of two nationally significant art institutes, the Chamber Orchestra or Lapland and the Rovaniemi Art Museum. The Artikum is a science center with exhibits the lead guests on adventures to Finnish Lapland and the Arctic region.
There are theaters for musicals, both classical and new performances. Various tours of everything from amethyst mines to the Devil’s Churns. These are hollow tubes carved into the mountains about 10,000 years ago from melting snow.
When you are ready to eat, there is a great variety from hamburgers and pizza to local cuisine. At the Snowland Restaurant you can sit inside an igloo while enjoying a bowl of delicious steaming soup. In the Santapark Restaurant, dinner is enjoyed while watching an exciting show performed by professional dancers. There are many other unique restaurants like these as well.
For accommodations, there are just as many choices to choose from as there are restaurants. There are traditional hotels, B&B’s, cottages, guest houses, etc. If you really want to have an awesome experience, I would recommend staying at one of the unique accommodations offered.
In the Apukka Resort Ice Cabins, you are sleeping in a cabin made of ice. You will get a specially designed sleeping bag to keep you warm.
If sleeping in the cold isn’t your idea of a great time, there is the Arctic Fox Igloos which contains a wood building for your bathroom, kitchen, etc, and then an all-glass room for you to sleep in. The Apukka Aurora Apartments have a panorama glass ceiling to allow you to view the Northern Lights.
And now for the part you have been waiting for, Santa Clause’s Village!
In World War II, Rovaniemi was decimated. There was almost nothing left to it. After the war, the town was rebuilt by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, based on a plan that resembled the side of a reindeer’s head, complete with antlers.
The key to the survival of the town is its tourist industry. As an effort to boost the number of tourists visiting, the town declared itself the “Official Home of Santa Clause” in 1984.
Santa’s Village is the primary “Santa” attraction. It is open year-round and with over 500,000 visitors from around the world. The post office here receives about a million pieces of mail for Santa each year. And when Santa writes a reply, it comes with an Arctic Circle postmark! The post office is someplace you will want to stop in and visit when you are here.
While you are at Santa’s Village you will want to see the reindeer as well. There are Reindeer sled rides and farm visits available not only at Santa’s Village but around Rovaniemi. You won’t get to ride a flying reindeer as those privileges are reserved for Santa alone. It takes years to master the art of riding a reindeer.
What would Santa’s Village be without the Elves who make everything happen! Not only will you see them everywhere in the village, but you can also take a class at the Elf School and earn a magical diploma!
And before you leave, make sure you visit the big guy himself, Santa! You came all this way to see him, you don’t want to be so enchanted by everything else going on that you forget to do that!