COULD Deputy Editor Gayle Schoales, partner Nick and eight-year-old son Jude track down the Big Man in magical Lapland?
Here’s a to-do-list of what you need to do when holidaying in Lapland, from husky safaris to meeting Santa Claus, your children will be amazed.
When your child starts asking suspicious questions (“Mum, how come you can buy Nintendos in Argos if Santa’s elves make them?”), you know it’s time to bring out the big guns – a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Lapland in search of Father Christmas.
We opted for Canterbury Travel’s three-day Magical Interlude tour, and from the second we arrive in Rovaniemi airport, we’re fizzing with Christmas spirit.
The 90-minute transfer flies by as our wonderful tour guides Mikey, Rachel and Billy teach us the words and actions to the insanely catchy Elf Song (which we’ll sing at least 72 more times over the coming days).
Following a pit-stop for snowsuits and boots, we arrive in the ski village of Luosto, deep in a snow-capped national park, 90 minutes north of the Arctic Circle.
We’re staying in a gorgeous two-bed log cabin, an easy 10-minute walk from the resort at the Luostotunturi Hotel. With a sledge to transport little ones, a heated cabinet for drying clothes, log burner and sauna, it’s the perfect base.
For dinner, we upgrade to the Vaisko Restaurant, built in the circular Lappish style with a domed wooden roof, and with MasterChef-level food. Don’t miss the roasted fillet of reindeer with fingerling potato, smoked celeriac purée and lingonberry sauce (sorry, Rudolph!).
The next morning, after a tasty buffet breakfast in the lovely Luostotunturi Hotel, we begin our search. First, our coach takes us to a nearby reindeer farm for a magical sleigh ride through the snowy fells – definitely one for the bucket list.
Next, it’s off to Santa’s very own post office. Sadly, we’ve just missed the Big Man, but we do find his elves – Tricky Dicky, Snowy Bowy, Speedy Sam, Wendy Wood and Noisy Nod – who, over the next two days, give us a series of clues to help find him.
A husky safari is next on the agenda. Sipping hot berry juice beside a crackling fire inside a Lappish tipi, we learn all about the breed and pet some pups before taking the reins ourselves.
As we whizz through the forest, the sun setting after just four hours of daylight, I have to pinch myself – this is an experience we’ll never forget. With our adrenalin still pumping, we also have a go driving Ski-Doos around a frozen lake.
We start the next day with tobogganing and mini Ski-Doos for the kids – plus a few more clues from the elves about Santa’s whereabouts – then it’s a hearty lunch of meatballs and mash.
Bound to secrecy by the elves, I can’t reveal exactly how we find the Big Man that afternoon.
Suffice to say it involves a snowmobile-driven sleigh through an enchanted forest, candles flickering among ancient pine trees, Mrs Claus and a magical door… Jude’s face as he claps eyes on Father Christmas – and realises he’s holding the very letter Jude had written to him a few weeks earlier – is priceless.
After a lovely little chat and a present (which, much to Jude’s delight, turns out to be something from his list!), we swing by the elves’ house for stories and gingerbread biscuits, then head back to the resort for our farewell party.
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