The northernmost regions of Finland and Sweden – more often recognised as Lapland – are an arctic playground where the resident reindeers outnumber the people. Family memories are made here – visiting Santa Claus at his official home in Rovaniemi, staying in a hotel room made entirely of ice in Sweden’s ICEHOTEL, sleeping under the northern lights in an igloo topped with a glass roof for uninterrupted skyward views, mushing through the snow on a traditional dog sled or dashing through the glittering landscape on an adrenaline-packed snowmobile safari… The choice of exhilarating winter activities is extensive.
With a winter that lasts around 200 days, the northern lights can be seen painting ribbons of colour across the sky from late August until mid-April. Wrap up warm and hunt for them on an evening reindeer sled safari, head out through the woods on snowshoes to watch them from around a campfire or simply lie back in a glass-topped igloo, treehouse or log cabin and watch the starry night sky from the comfort of your own bed.
Rovaniemi, sitting directly on the Arctic Circle and crowned the capital of Lapland, has all the amenities of a city close to hand and an array of excursions available to get the full winter experience, making it an ideal choice for families. Those looking for a more remote experience or a wilderness escape should head further north; the barely-inhabited regions surrounding Ivalo and Kittlia in Finland, and Kiruna in Sweden, offer escapism and total immersion in beautiful natural surroundings, with plenty of potential for adventure too, of course.