Imagine a place covered with snow, christmas lights everywhere, snowmen and loads of christmas trees. Christmas carols playing all day long. Lots of gift shops and toy shops all around and a sign on the tallest building saying “Santa is here”! We had officially arrived in the Santa Claus village of Rovaniemi. Fun Fact: Santa is known as Joulupukki in this part of the world.
I did not know this before, but there are at least two Santa Claus villages in the world. One is in Alaska at a place called North pole and the other is at Rovaniemi in Finland (smack on top of arctic circle). It has a post office which actually receives all letters which are sent by children addressed to “santa” in Europe and Asia. Apparently, it stays quite busy around the holidays.
The first thing we did after arriving here and dumping our luggage at the Santa’s holiday village reception was, of course, meet Santa! When we first saw him, he was busy telling some kids to be nice and good this year. He was really sweet and oh boy! so talkative! He knew a lot about India and started talking about all the places he wants to see in India. ? It was so weirdly funny!
One thing that really struck me roaming around the village, was the obvious commercialisation of the place. Honestly, that was something I did not expect. I expected it to be more like a theme park, but in reality it was more like a mall. There were shops left, right and center and frankly, not so many places to see if you did not want to shop or eat. Entrance into all the attractions that were there, was paid. We roamed around from one end to the other and looked into a couple of places.
There was a snowman world, which we did not visit since it was basically another ice hotel with snow igloos and we had already seen an ice hotel. We saw a couple of reindeer sleds for kids, and lots of activities which you had to pre signup for like picnics and day trips on huskys and reindeer sleds and ice fishing. Since we were only there for one day, we decided to just look around and do whatever is available on short notice. Husky farm was too far and their rides were on fixed timings, so we ditched that one and headed towards the Snowmobiling center. Best decision ever!
Snowmobiles are quite thrilling, albeit not the most eco friendly things. But its a way of life in the snow, the things that reindeer herders use to go in the woods and care for their herd and husky trainers use to clear pathways in deep snow. Nothing would be a faster mode of transportation in the arctic forests, and they are quite a beauty to behold. Snowmobiles are physically very challenging to drive and we went on about an hour long drive behind our guide into the forest at twilight. Yup! definitely picked the best activity to try 🙂
We also “officially” jumped over the arctic circle which runs through the middle of the village. And if you want, you can buy a certificate saying you crossed the circle!
It was probably the most touristy thing we did on our entire trip and although the amount of commercialisation was a little disappointing, we did manage to have fun. This was our last leg in the cities of Finland and next day we were heading to the country side of lapland, to the northernmost villages of Finland, right on the border between Finland and Norway!