Lapland, you stole our hearts: How to Lapland with kids
Updated: Jan 31
Our guest writer, Charmaine, spent the most wonderful week on a dream, post-Xmas holiday with her family and has shared the 'how do Lapland with kids' lowdown with London for Kidz. Here's what she has to say:
Kickstarting the adventure
We booked a seven-night "Ski Week" package holiday with Inghams, through Dream of Lapland (DoL). Both Hugh and Brian at DoL were absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend to all. They listened, they answered all my (many) questions promptly and they recommended a holiday which, quite frankly, blew us away.
Plotting and planning
I won't lie, planning this trip was an epic 18 months in the plotting stages as I really wanted to make it as magical as possible, and... a secret! Having visited Lapland UK twice before (2019 and 2021) which we really loved as a family, my children kept asking if we could visit the "real" Lapland. Not even knowing where Lapland was, I started my secret scheme for a once in a lifetime trip to where the magic was at. I am a big planner so as soon as I decided to make it happen I joined all the relevant Facebook groups (Lapland Holiday Chat/Lapland Chat, Advice & Info, Lapland Budget DIY Trips, Lapland Buy and Sell and Swap) and started trawling the good ol' internet.
First thing to note, and it probably won't come as a shock, is that Lapland is NOT cheap. It will put a family sized hole in your wallet! Having researched the possibility of a DIY holiday (to save on costs) vs. a package holiday, I soon realised, costs aside, that I just wanted all of the security and none of the hassle, so decided on package holiday for the win. My next debate was whether to spend the budget on doing the traditional pre-Christmas 3 night/4 day break (which would have meant pulling the kids out of school and packing all the adventure into a shorter holiday), or plumping for a longer, seven night, post-Christmas holiday where we could spread the activities out but still get to meet Santa (and save a couple of thousand pounds). Post-Xmas it was.
The Grand Reveal
I managed to keep the entire trip a secret from my partner and kids all the way through until Boxing Day! At the big reveal I handed our two children (Daughter aged 10 and Son aged 6) with their personalised letters from Santa (purchased from Kitty Thistle on eBay) and boarding passes inviting them to Lapland. Their Santa sacks were filled with their ski and winter wear for our trip, personalised Lapland Hoodies and backpacks and the excitement on their faces was almost as magical as the trip. The first thing they wanted to know? Was Daddy coming too? And at this point he didn't actually know that he WAS coming, but I had a bag of gifts and an invite for him too. Surprise Mission Accomplished. I would say the excitement and shock levels were just about even!
The big adventure gets underway
There's no getting away from it, the journey was long: we left London Gatwick at 7am and we arrived in Finland around 12 noon local time, but from there is was a three hour transfer to our wintry destination, Saariselka. That three hour transfer though, through a dazzling, snowy wonderland, was utterly breathtaking. For us Lapland was a case of love at first sight!
Once we arrived at Saariselka, we had a quick stop at the top of the resort to collect our snow suits, boots and gloves before heading to our accommodation. Full marks for a super smooth and slick operation: we were all kitted out within minutes and ready to settle in and tackle the snow.
Accommodation and Resort
Home for the week was The Holiday Club Hotel, Saariselka on a half board basis, which was just perfect for us. The hotel had a lovely family fun pool, which was a big hit with the kids. Food wise, breakfast was delicious and plentiful with both cooked and continental options, and dinner was a great way to try some local Finnish dishes. There was also the all-essential options for the kids (nuggets, mini hotdogs, chips, pasta). We plumped for a family room for four which was equipped with all the things we needed for a happy, easy stay.
Saariselka itself was truly beautiful. With only four hours of daylight a day we were spoilt every day with a riot of colours in the sun-kissed skies. With sunrise at just after 10am and sunset just after 2pm the days were short and the nights were long, and it just added to the magic of being in such a special pocket of the world.
When we weren't busy full on adventuring we all loved playing in the snow, sledging and taking a dip in the pool. We also made balloon baubles and filled these with food coloring which became lovely frozen baubles that the kids played with. There was always something to keep us busy with and the resort boasted a few restaurants, a couple of pubs and a gift shop, as well as a supermarket, a bowling alley and an outdoor ice-skating rink. There was also a ski bus which ran from the resort to the ski slopes: an essential leg saver after a full day on the slopes!
Aurora Hut and hunt for the Northern Lights
One of the many highlights of the holiday was a beautiful walk from the resort up to the Aurora Hut in hope that we would see the Northern Lights. The trail took us through the snow covered forest which was just stunning: there are no words to describe it. The children loved being pulled along on their sledges and once we reached the top we re-fueled by toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate. Sadly there was too much pesky cloud cover to see the Northern Lights that evening, but it was impossible to be too disappointed given how wonderful a time we had and how truly stunning the trip was. Luckily for us though the stars were literally shining down on us as on the last night of our trip the Northern Lights did put in an appearance and we got a glimpse anyway.
A visit with Santa Claus
I booked our Santa visit privately through Northern Lights Village, as I had read fantastic reviews, and those reviews were spot on. What a wonderful, amazing experience this was, and the perfect way for the children to thank Santa for their Xmas prezzies in person. Pick up was from our hotel and the kids were presented with a scroll inviting them to come on a magical search for Santa, which they loved. We were greeted by Santa's adorable Elves on arrival who took us to their Elf Hut to bake gingerbread cookies and to write letters to Santa. Funny moment alert: One of the Elves told us that Santa happened to be a big West Ham football fan like my partner! We couldn't believe we would meet another fan in the middle of the Finnish wilderness, and such a special fan at that! Yep, you read it here first, folks. Santa is a West Ham supporter.
The excursion was not just about Santa either: we went on a fabulous short reindeer sleigh ride through the snowy landscape to the Elves hideaway were we got to play games, build a snowman, drink hot chocolate and roast marshmallows on the open fire. The perfect winter adventure. The search for Santa then continued with a snowmobile ride out further into the wilderness to Santa's secret cabin. The children were so excited, and when Santa magically appeared he even had us grownups convinced he really was the real Father Christmas (and the fact he sang the West Ham song We're Forever Blowing Bubbles was an extra magical touch). The whole experience was so personal and one that we will all treasure forever. We all got presents - grownups too - and Santa knew so much about the children that I don't think they will ever not believe that he wasn't anything other than the genuine, real St. Nick. Three hours of pure joy.
Other Activities and excursions
We had added the Lapland 3 for 2 activity package to our booking which included a 10km Snowmobile Safari, a 5km Reindeer Safari and farm visit, plus a 10km Husky Safari. These activities were spaced out across the holiday so we never felt rushed or tired. Faves were the snowmobiling for my partner, the reindeers for my daughter, and the huskies for us all. I don't think I am ever not going to be nagged for our own husky going forwards! It also turns out my partner is a bit of a whizz when it comes to being in charge of a husky sleigh! I had a go too and I won't lie: I was terrified! But then the exhilaration took over and it quickly became another wonderful holiday highlight.
Skiing and sledging
Saariselka is famous for its 2km toboggan run which is not for the faint hearted but definitely a 'must try'. Mr. 6 was too young so he stayed with Daddy to play on the smaller slopes while Miss. 10 and myself head up on the ski lift. It was fast, and yes, I crashed, but we had such fun. So much so that she then made Daddy take over to try again and again while I head back to the less scary slopes for a spot of sledging and tubing with our son.
The final surprise of the holiday was a day of skiing on our last day. Daddy was already a bit of an expert on the slopes so he went off to test his skills while Miss. 10 spent the morning at ski school and the afternoon on the slopes. Mr. 6 kept busy using the smaller slopes via a rope tow and perfecting his plough technique. In the end though it did get a bit too nippy - minus 20! - so after a final sledge as a family down the slopes we head back to the hotel to warm up with a swim, sauna and steam.
Our trip in a nutshell
Lapland, you completely and utterly stole our hearts! We had the most magical week away at this beautiful winter wonderland and if anyone is wondering whether the expense and journey are worth it then, in a nutshell, that's a big, fat YES. My advice would be to do your research and, if the budget allows, get a specialist tour operator like Inghams involved. I might try a DIY trip in the future (we're officially Lapland hooked), but I am so pleased all the stress of logistics and planning were taken care of for us for our first trip. It is 100% the most phenomenal experience and one that will stay with us always. My advice? Do it! It's a once in a lifetime experience that will leave you with zero regrets and a million memories.
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY: Charmaine Etienne, London for Kidz
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