Santa Claus village is one of the things that people will tell you to visit when going to Lapland. To be honest, it very much depends on your travel style and what do you actually want from Lapland to see. In my opinion, Santa Claus Village is like Christmas itself – stressful, busy and expensive.
Why Santa Claus village?
According to Americans, Santa lives on the north pole, according to Danes, Santa lives in Greenland (possibly because Greenland is still part of Denmark), according to Swedes, he lives in Finland. There isn’t anyone living in the north pole, and Greenlanders weren’t interested. But Fins decided that Santa will have his own village. And because he is supposed to have reindeers, he will live in Lapland, where they have a lot these animals.
What to expect?
It is a place where are constantly Christmas. Which could be a good thing. When you come here, you will see a lot of decoration and cozy atmosphere. But this place is also well-known. Which mean that by no means you will be here alone. In fact, there is a long line for taking pictures with Santa or other attractions.
Yes, it is true, in Santa village, you will find a lot of attractions. And if you really want to, you can even live there. There are a lot of hotels around. So what do you find? Except for the hotels in shape of iglu (only for guests), you can find there a place for reindeer sledding, husky sledding, petting zoo, snowmobile tour, Moomin castle and possibly even more.
Did I hear you say “that sounds awesome!”? It might be. Here is the thing. There is a free entrance to Santa Claus village. But that is about all that is free over there. If you want to ride with reindeer, you need to pay. Same for huskies, snowmobile, castle and more. I wouldn’t even have an issue with it if they would present it in advance and not as some kind of extra feature. Things here are cheaper but have a different quality than normal tours.
First, you will walk around Santa’s house and sure, the decorations are nice and it has a very cozy atmosphere. But it is terribly crowded. Next step is to go and meet Santa your self. It is kinda cool, you will see all these pictures of famous people with him including Chinese president or Finnish metal band. But you can be stuck in a line for a very long time. I was for half an hour. Then I met Santa. Cool, but if you go there just because you are curious, and you are 25 like me, this becomes awkward. Everything is set up so you can quickly just take a picture and go, go, go! Besides the girls there are dressed as elves makes the weirdest sounds ever. I guess they are trying to sound cute, I’m just not sure if it is working.
As an example of in Santa Claus Village attractions, here is my experience from sledding a reindeer. Here in this giant gift shop, I find a place where I can do some sledding with reindeer. There were three options for sledding. Either 400m, 1km or 3 km, each had a different price of course. And you could also pay extra for what they called “reindeer driving license”. All that sounds very fancy until you try it.
At the gate, I asked the woman if I can try to control the deer by myself. She said I can try, but I should tell it to the guy who will be walking with us. I did, however, he said that they don’t have any reindeer here for beginners, so I should just sit and enjoy the view. Well, the view was just reindeer but, but fair enough, kinda cute.
Another thing that kind of bothered me was the fact, that we are going for the whole kilometer and not once we tried to go any faster than just by walk. I just left, feeling like I had no proper experience from this. Besides here the animals are treated very touristy, so they would stay tacked the whole day. I’m no expert of reindeer, but I know that it would be an issue with horses.
Another thing that I decided to try was my visit to the petting zoo. I love these kinds of attractions. But this one had like 5 animals, some of them weren’t used for touching. And because that particular corner of Santa Claus Village was also to try cross skying. That is something I actually cannot do because of my knees. So the guy tried to make me awkwardly hug the trees instead. I have nothing against hugging trees when it kinda make sense or when I want to. This way it is just weird. And definitely wasn’t worth even those 10 euros that they wanted.
Summary of my trip
I guess I’m glad that I went, but friendly warning that it will be like this would be nice. I don’t think that Santa Claus Village is necessarily bad. But if you are a traveler who is looking for non-touristy places, it is not for you. However, if you have kids and want to go for a winter wonderland holiday, Santa Claus Village will be a place to be. Kids will try everything and for that, it is relatively cheap. Or at least cheaper than a normal tour that would consist maybe just snowmobile or just some other activity.
In fact, one thing that I liked about this place is that the gift shops were very original here. In case you are collecting anything.
But for me Santa Claus Village was a one-time experience, I’m glad that I had it. But I’m not going to do it again.
Santa Claus Village and where to find it
This Christmas village is in Lapland, so north part of Finland. It is very close to Rovaniemi, which is considered the capital of Lapland. How to get there? Easy. Since Lapland is about 800 km north of Helsinki, you can take a train there (there is a possibility of an overnight train) or you can fly there with Finnair or Norweigian. When it comes to the village itself, there is a lot of shuttle buses that go directly there or there are a lot of busses from Rovaniemi.
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