This year I finally bit the bullet and booked a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Lapland! Having wanted to travel there for years whilst my daughter was still young we decided this was the year to go. Here’s a little more information about our amazing day.
It was an early start for our trip to Lapland, our flight left London Gatwick at 7.15am and as with any flight you had to be at the airport approximately 2 hours before. The flight lasted for around 2 hours and 45 minutes, during this time we were served breakfast and soft/hot drinks. Unfortunately there was no entertainment on board, however our tour guides came onto the microphone around an hour and a half into the flight and they gave out goodie bags to the children (crayons, wordsearch, colouring sheets and carol song sheet). Children on the plane were invited up to sing over the microphone to boost the festive atmosphere on the plane. The tour guides also explained how the day would pan out and how we would leave the aeroplane once we had landed.
When we arrived in Pajala with its snow covered runway we were advised that we would depart the plane 8 rows at a time and that the temperature was -21! Don’t worry, it didn’t feel as cold as it sounds… We were the only flight arriving and departing Pajala all day, so the airport as you can imagine, is pretty compact. We were taken to the airport terminal from the plane by bus, the airport consists of passport control, a waiting area with enough seats for about 50 people and a kiosk where you can buy homemade cakes and drinks on departure. The check in area was also minimal with one desk and one bag checker. After passing through Passport Control we were on our way to enjoy the rest of our day. Outside the airport we were met by Santa Village coaches waiting and some traditional clothed Sami’s. On the coach we were advised on what colour group we would be in for the activities, what to expect from the day and then taken to Santa’s village.
On arrival to the village we were shown into the changing area and given all in one thermal suits (for all ages and sizes) and snow boots were also available too. We were given a large sack and numbered hook, this is where you leave your belongings for the day.
The thermal suits provided were great, we never felt cold, however I would recommend wearing thermals under your suit and you must bring your own hat, gloves and scarf. Also it’s a good idea to take a spare pair of socks and maybe a spare pair of bottoms for children. At each of the activities there is shelter and a lovely wood fire.
Once you have your team colour for the day you are told by your Sami leader the order of events for the day. We had the following events. First was a Snowmobile ride which was 2 laps, you can either drive yourself (if over 18) or be driven. Next was a Husky Dog Experience where you were pulled along buy 10 huskies (this lasts approximately 5-10 minutes) followed by lunch, a Reindeer sleigh ride through the woodland and the our private meeting with Santa. You walk along a lit track to a halfway point where you can get a hot drink, you are then escorted to his house and have your meeting with the Big Man (you can take as long as you like with him). Children are given a token gift, when finished you are taken back by a snowmobile sleigh. When you are waiting or just want some free time there is tobogganing, snowballing and snowman-making. Or if you’d like to warm up a little, inside there is an activities corner to make cards and decorations.
My favourite part of the day was the husky dog experience, you can stroke the dogs and find out more about them from Husky driver and the ride was exhilarating – just make sure you hold on tight! My daughter Lucia didn’t have a favourite activity during the day and thought the whole day was magical!
You do get three meals during the day at Lapland, during the flight you’ll have breakfast (beans, sausage, omelette and hash browns with a hot drink). For lunch you’ll enjoy something similar to homemade thick vegetable soup followed by Swedish meatballs in gravy and mashed potato with a drink, this was in Santa’s Village. During the day, hot berry juice was also available from the Sami’s home. On return flight you are given an evening meal of chicken, sautéed potatoes, green beans and carrots and a drink.
If you want to buy a souvenir, there is a small shop with mugs, key rings, magnets, soft toys and a lot of traditional items. They except British Pounds as payment or you can use your card (when they can get signal on the card machine!) At the airport is a small kiosk with homemade cakes and sweets and hot or soft drinks – but here they will only accept cash no cards.
We were worried as it was a day trip we might feel rushed, but you get plenty of time to do all of the activities and around six hours in the village itself. It is dark in Lapland, when we landed at around 11am it was sunrise, the sun had set by around 2pm. However, everywhere is well lit with c andles and white fairy lights.
There is also a professional photographer who will take pictures of your meeting with Father Christmas, he was great and not intrusive and you do not have to buy them if you do not want to. You can take your own photos and videos during the day, just bear in mind some devices do not like to work in such cold conditions…
We arrived back in the UK after a fabulous day exhausted but full of Christmas cheer. We also got to see the spectacular Northern Lights from the plane before we took off, which can’t be guaranteed for every trip unfortunately but was certainly an added bonus!
To book your place on our 2016 Lapland Santa Experience Day Trip click here