THE boss asked: “Fancy a trip to Lapland.” With a five-yearold daughter and a lifetime of dreaming about Santa, I was packed before he’d finished asking his question.
Our First Choice plane from Gatwick was decked out for Christmas, so by the time we landed at Kittila Airport after a 31⁄ hour flight my daughter Amber and I were bursting with excitement.
“Look at the snow, Mummy,” she said gazing at the white wonderland.
Luggage collected, we were met by our guide Melody – an elf – who whisked us off to the elves’ warehouse to pick up our snowsuits.
Then it was outside for a quick snowball fight before a 40-minute minibus ride to Snow Village in the middle of a frosty forest.
Yllas is on the north side of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland.
It was only 2pm but it was almost dark. On average there are only three hours of sunlight a day in December.
On arrival we headed straight out for something to eat, a delicious plate of meatballs and mash washed down with a mug of hot chocolate in a log cabin.
Refuelled and ready to go, we headed out to explore.
Our first stop was Yllas’s ice hotel with its frosted rooms and stunning glacial sculptures. You can even snooze in the sub-zero setting by snuggling up in a sleeping bag placed on reindeer hides.
But there was no time for us to rest with Amber so keen to meet Santa.
The ever-obliging Melody ushered us aboard her snowmobile – it’s how all elves travel, apparently – and sped us through the forest to the man himself.
Only elves know where Santa’s secret house is and as we drew up outside his cabin I thought we’d gone through the wardrobe into Narnia.
A special elf greeted us with a lamp to show us the way to Santa’s door. Amber was hopping about with excitement and – I admit it! – so was I.
When it was eventually our turn to go inside, Amber instantly fell silent.
She was so overcome with emotion she could barely tell Santa her name.
Butwhen he asked her if she’d been a good girl, she replied, “Yes!!” in a nice, loud voice.
Later, with a present in hand, we said goodbye before heading back through the forest at speed. Back at the village, we could hear the huskies calling and set off for another fun-filled ride.
We climbed into the sleigh pulled by five dogs and set off at speed through the forest.
One of the highlights was spotting a real reindeer. All the racing around left us freezing after a while so we headed to Mrs Claus’s cabin to thaw out.
Here you can warm up and make Christmas decorations. And post that all-important letter to Santa.
Time passed in a blur of excitement and, before we knew it, it was time to head to our hotel, the Snow Princess.
Built in a traditional Lappish style, it boasts a cosy, festive feel.
After tucking into the gala dinner, we just had enough strength to go to our lovely, warm room, where Amber