Finland’s Lapland is a popular choice for families at Christmas
“Your luck’s in,” said a small, jolly-looking man dressed in red and green.
This was our first introduction to Snowdrop the elf, who was announcing that the -42°C cold snap was over.
Fortunately for us, the temperature had risen to -28°C by the time our plane landed at Kittilä Airport in Lapland.
Snowdrop was one of the elves waiting to take little ones on their magical path to Father Christmas. Our first stop was our hotel, Snow Princess in Yllas, a 50-minute drive away through breathtaking scenery.
Imagine being dropped into the best Christmas film you could ever dream of – then multiply it by a million.
Our new companion explained everything we needed to know about Finnish Lapland.
It’s as big as Belgium, Holland and Switzerland combined, it has as many reindeer as people and although polar bears don’t live here, brown bears do.
Meanwhile he pulled the kids’ hats over their eyes and told them silly jokes – your typical naughty elf.
The hotel was busy with children and adults, all buzzing with excitement. Some, returning from days out, were clad in snowsuits – these are essential as even your eyelashes freeze when you step out into the Arctic air.
They’re provided by the hotel along with socks and boots. I wore a ski jacket and trousers under mine but thermal layers do the job, too.
The Snow Princess Hotel where there’s fun for all the family
Our itinerary was full-on but you can do as much or as little as you want and the hotel is only about 45 minutes away on most excursions, so there’ll be no calls of “are we there yet?”
We got our first taste of Lappish life driving snowmobiles through a Narnia-style forest and stopping halfway for hot berry juice and gingerbread, to the delight of my 10-year-old daughter Sissy.
I took this opportunity to defrost my thumbs, having forgotten to switch on my heated handlebars.
There are roughly four hours of daylight in December but it isn’t really dark at night-time either and the sky was a shade of pink and violet when we arrived in Rovaniemi to see Santa.
We were led down a candle-lit path into his village where snowballs were being thrown by cheeky elves and biscuits were being decorated in log cabins.
When the time comes for the children to see the man himself, smiles stretch from ear to ear.
Sissy later told me she was planning to have a tug at his beard but realised on close inspection, “This really is him, the real one.”
Our next adventure was husky sledding and I was in the driving seat, much to my daughter’s disappointment.
Lapland’s frozen landscape is picture-perfect
Looking like a Minion, torch strapped to my forehead and my whole body weight on the brakes, I was in charge of the six Siberian huskies.
The sled rattled as we headed off into the white wilderness and the feeling really is like no other.
For me this was the highlight of our trip. Back at the hotel, staff were like extended family waiting to greet guests after their busy day.
Nothing was too much trouble and if they’re not organising reindeer rides or trips to SnowVillage they’re taking you out for walks to the frozen lake where you can catch the best view of the Northern Lights – if you’re fortunate.
Reindeers pull sledges through the forest for a full-on Lapland experience
Lapland is considered one of the best places to see this spectacular light show thanks to its prevailing winds and clear skies.
And if all this isn’t enough, children can make their own fun outside the hotel. Sleighs are provided and toboggan runs are carved into big dumps of snow.
One boy named a perilous-looking slide See You In Heaven. I was happy to watch them. I was already there.
TUI offers three-night holidays to Lapland staying at the three-T Hotel Snow Princess on a full-board basis from £983 per person, based on two adults and two children sharing.
This includes flights leaving London Gatwick on December 10, 2017, and transfers.
To book, visit tui.co.uk or call 0871 230 2555.
Published at Sun, 12 Nov 2017 00:01:00 +0000