For anyone considering a magical trip to Lapland this Christmas, this wonderful guest post from Debbie will really get you excited!
Ever since I was a little girl I have loved everything to do with Christmas. Getting older has not quelled the excitement in me with the run up to the big day and so it’s no surprise that both of my boys are also a little bit Christmas obsessed. This family’s over enthusiasm meant it was only natural that I was desperate to take them to Lapland as soon as they were old enough.
Last January, after spending days scouring brochures we finally took the plunge and booked with Inghams for 4 nights in Yllas, Finland. After finally booking, we just had to keep it from the boys and come up with an inventive way to surprise them with the news that they were going to visit Santa. This is where Emily from International Elf Service came into action and gave us the most wonderful way to surprise them. The boys had both enjoyed Elfie’s letters at Christmas and talked about how excited they were about hearing from Elfie again. Emily came up with a very special letter from Elfie, one which invited my two very lucky boys to Lapland. The night before we were due to travel, the letter was sat waiting for them in front of the fireplace and I had two over excited boys on my hands when they realised where we were going.
Bright and early the next morning we arrived at the airport and took our Jet2 flight to Finland. As we approached our destination, we watched as the landscape turned to white. With the air hostesses and passengers on the plane singing Christmas songs the atmosphere was fantastic. We landed on a snowy runway and as we disembarked the children were all throwing snowballs before we even got into the terminal.
From the second you get to Lapland everything just seems so magical. The sun barely came up and then it was gone again. It was really weird it being dark all the time. The scenery is just amazing with snow as far as the eye can see. Even though it was starting to get dark by the time we arrived we couldn’t resist going straight out to make snow angels, indulge in some sledging and dive into the deep snow (a little warning: while it may look like fun to dive into a 6ft high snow drift, trying to get out is not as easy as you might think!).
As part of our holiday package, on our first day we had a pre-planned excursion to visit the man himself at his workshop. As we arrived, the excitement of the boys was barely contained. We pulled up to a village decked with fairy lights, it was stunning. We were given a time to see Santa and while we were waiting we went off to explore. We had photos taken with a reindeer, went sledging and took a snowmobile ride out to a cabin in the woods where we fire roasted sausages and marshmallows to eat.
Our visit with Santa was amazing. Seb was so excited to finally get to meet the real Santa and Cole was caught up in his brother’s excitement. The boys both rhymed off their Christmas wish lists, swimming goggles for Seb and a Lego train for Cole. Santa did look a bit perplexed about the swimming goggles. After saying our goodbyes the boys decided they wanted to bake gingerbread cookies with the elves, which were delicious.
On our second day we had booked two extra excursions, one of which was the one I was most looking forward to – a half day visit to ride reindeer and husky sleds. We arrived at the husky farm and followed candle lit paths to find the husky huts. We were shown to a husky sled and I got to cuddle in with the boys under a blanket all nice and warm while Daddy did the hard work of riding the sled and steering. The husky ride was short but for two young boys it was probably long enough (anything where you’re going fast makes your face freeze which isn’t so bad for an adult but can be hard to cope with for a small child).
After petting the husky puppies and sipping some hot juice to warm us up we moved to the reindeer farm. Here we got to ride in twos in a sled pulled by a reindeer. I snuggled under a blanket with my biggest boy while he sang jingle bells the whole way round the forest. The atmosphere was magical, surrounded in the forest by reindeer, with children dropping into the deep snow and making snow angels.
Our second excursion of the day was to the Ice Hotel. This was a sight to behold. The rooms with themes carved in to the ice are exquisite and were being finished off ready for guests as we were visiting. While it was beautiful I wasn’t envious that we weren’t staying there, it was freezing and I like my warmth!
Our final full day we booked a snowmobile excursion. We rode on a snowmobile and the children being too young were pulled in a sled behind one of the organisers all snuggled under a blanket. It took a bit of getting used to riding on the snowmobile. We were going so fast through the forest and I have to admit it was a bit scary (especially when we accidentally came off road!). This was the first day it actually snowed and the snow was coming thick and fast as we were whizzing through the trees to the top of the mountain. We made a stop at the top to thaw out in front of a camp fire in a cabin while snacking on ginger biscuits and warm juice.
The ride back down the mountain was faster than the way up. If you ever do this excursion make sure you pack balaclavas and neck gaiters, it is freezing at the top and gets colder the faster you go.
The gala dinner on our last evening was held in the hotel and all the families that we’d been meeting up with during the week were there, so the boys got to play with their friends one last time. We had a traditional Christmas dinner while singing Christmas songs. The Tour Operator staff spent time doing games with the children and entertaining them. After dinner an extra special guest was announced and Santa arrived to surprise the children. Each family got to meet Santa again and each child was given a gift to remember Lapland by.
The next morning we were picked up for our trip back to the airport. Seb cried before the bus arrived, he’d had the most amazing time and didn’t want to leave. I have to admit I almost wanted to join him in the tears. The whole trip was so full of Christmas magic, I’ve wanted to do this for years and it not only lived up to all of my expectations but exceeded them. I know it’s meant to be for kids, but as an adult you almost come away believing yourself.
- My Tips:
Don’t rush to go. If you’re only going to do it once make sure your children are old enough to enjoy it and remember it. In hindsight we probably should have waited another year, Cole was only 3 and I think a year older he would have got a lot more out of it.
- Take lots of warm clothes, thermals are essential! The suits they give you are excellent but you need some good warm clothes to go under them. Decent gloves and hats are also needed.
- Buy sledges (or hopefully find someone has left some behind at your cabin!). Small children find it exhausting walking in the snow, pulling them around is much easier.
- Do all the excursions you can. They’re too good to miss!
- If you’re taking GoPros or cameras take extra batteries. The cold drains the batteries so we found that sometimes the batteries were dying after only 10-20 minutes of use.
*It cost just less than £3000 for 4 of us with the reindeer/husky excursion and half board.
Debbie Straughton is a Christmas obsessed mum to Sebastian, aged 6 and Cole aged 4, and lives in Manchester.
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