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Christ­mas Day fi­nally ar­rives and the tem­per­a­ture has plum­meted to - 28° C catch­ing even the lo­cals off-guard. The snow is pow­dery and deep and we do our best to keep warm at the Snow­fun Park, to­bog­gan­ing, cross-coun­try ski­ing and snow­mo­bil­ing in be­tween sips of hot berry juice, soup and sausages fried over a camp­fire. Even­tu­ally some of us have to re­treat to the heated bus.

For four days, the North­ern Lights that reg­u­larly dance above th­ese Arc­tic skies elude us. On our fi­nal day we get to ex­pe­ri­ence the next best light show in the Ark­tikum Mu­seum and Science Cen­tre’s North­ern Lights the­atre. Ev­ery­thing you want to know about the lo­cal cul­ture, na­ture, cli­mate and peo­ple of the Arc­tic and La­p­land is on show here.

While our itin­er­ary also in­cludes a visit to Santa Claus Vil­lage, home to Santa’s own post of­fice, restau­rants and a range of shops, we de­tour to Santa Park.

If you’ve ever wanted to know the se­crets of Santa’s helpers this is the place to come.

Deep in­side a heated cav­ern, Santa Park boasts a work­shop, magic train, ice gallery (with frozen throne), an ice bar and an Angry Birds activity park. Win­ter (or sum­mer) Santa him­self often pops by his of­fice to meet fans.

But the ul­ti­mate last-minute sou­venir has to be a grad­u­a­tion cer­tifi­cate from Elf School.

At Elf School, eager stu­dents can gain a crash course in elf es­pi­onage. Sport­ing those now fa­mil­iar pixie fea­tures, our Elf pro­fes­sors took turns demon­strat­ing how they sneak a peek in your win­dows through­out the year, to check on who is be­ing naughty or nice. Be­fore we could say ‘presents’ they’d been and gone.

So they show us again, this time in S-L-O-W M-O-T-I-O-N.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” the be­mused au­di­ence chuck­les with ap­pro­pri­ate Christ­mas spirit.

Lessons in­clude the art of creep­ing qui­etly and all the in­sider tips to get your name per­ma­nently in Santa’s good books. I just hope my girls lis­tened.

Well, we’ll soon see, won’t we?

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