IN SEARCH OF SANTA
With frostbite nipping at their toes, one family discovers Santa’s secrets on a magical visit to Finnish Lapland.
Christmas in Australia is a summery scene of seafood, sun, surf and sand, and yet so many postcard images continue to depict the wintry northern European traditions of sleigh rides and log fires. I experienced the latter as a wide-eyed child and although I’ve spent many more Christmases in Australia, for me, nothing compares to a white Christmas with all the trimmings (including a toboggan run). It was something I’d wanted to share with my own children before they lost their lust for magic, but how could I guarantee snow on Christmas Day? It’s not as easy as it seems. There was only one place I could think of that could deliver my wish: Finnish Lapland, on the Arctic Circle. I then went one better and aimed our compass at the official hometown of Santa Claus himself.
Planned like a reindeer’s head and flanked by Finland’s longest river, the Kemijoki ( where it merges with the Ounasjoki River), Rovaniemi, more than lives up to its description of an “urban oasis amidst the Arctic wilderness where culture, wild activities and fairytales come together”. Seriously, besides a selfie with Santa, who could resist a chance to dine in an igloo?