Santa Claus is coming to town and he’s a very busy man in Finland! Catering to the many Santa needs in this region there are a fair few choices of places to meet the jolly red man. Here are my opinions on a few on offer from what I have experienced.
Santa Park is located within a short, but expensive, taxi ride from our accommodation the Ounasavaaran Puritit, or the city centre. It’s an underground world of magic which involves all the aspects of Santa’s operations.
From the cave and lights entrance to elf school, an ice kingdom and Santa’s post office. There is something for all age groups here and the layout is perfect for spreading people between activities. I loved the gingerbread decorating room, calligraphy area where we could sign our elf school graduation certificates and the elf toy making workshop.
It was 31 euros to get in which was a little steep but we did spend 3-4 hours there and had a really great time. There were only a few extra things to pay for inside but most activities were included. Great fun for ages 2 onwards, we had a 2 year old who loved it. I am 26 however and feel I enjoyed it more, wearing my “Santa Believes in me” elf hat with pride.
The Santa Village is an outdoor Santa theme park essentially. There are a whole bunch of areas within the village with activities and things to do. My friends husband and I were not interested in going here initially as we felt we’d had our Santa experience with the Santa Park. She persuaded us it much different and we had time to kill in any case. He and I actually enjoyed it much more than she did. She had spent a lot of time researching everything and so felt the description didn’t live up to what she saw whilst we were pleasantly surprised.
Activities included a Santa Museum, tobogganing area, giant ice slide, crystal store and restaurant, restaurants and cafes, many gift shops, reindeer sled rides and reindeer interactions. Of course there was the Santa experience which was extremely well done with an elaborate entrance and very anticipating and exciting way to enter Santa’s presence. He was a kind and sweet Santa and we got a video and photos of our experience (purchased of course.)
The highlight was visiting Santa’s official post office and seeing elves hard at work reading all the letters. We also sent letters off with the official post office stamp from the Arctic circle. And then of course you get to see the official Arctic circle of the North line!
We had a wonderful evening there and could have spent more time had it not been -30 by the time we left outside. Only disappointment, no reindeer to just visit and see, you had to do a sled ride for 17 euros and these had stopped by 5pm when we reached.
This is an elf and Santa fantasy land experience. I cannot speak too much about it as I did not attend however my friend did. She read rave reviews and felt this would be the ultimate Santa experience. Unfortunately, again, reading and researching proved to be a bit disappointing. I also think the fact that we had 2 great Santa experiences the two days prior affected her opinion. The bus driver was rude on the way there, the tour felt a bit rushed and again…. No reindeer! She said the elves were great and it was beautiful. But for 160 euros…. She wasn’t sure she’d do it again. I think if you make this your only experience, it would be great. Also it’s more targeted at 6-10 year olds who would find it amazing!! A 2 year old was a bit young to take it and a 26 year old mother probably a bit old to get so wrapped up in the magic.
Personally, I was very happy with the order in which we did the two locations, Santa Park and Santa Village and I feel they catered well to the magic of Christmas and the Santa experience. I could not justify 160 euros for another Santa experience when I had already done the other two so for me, I would do this over again.
So, wherever you decide is best to go, Rovaniemi certainly brings back the believer in me and the magic of the Christmas spirit to all who visit. Ho, ho, ho- Merry Christmas to you all!