Get your skates on for a Lapland escape
One of Europe’s last true wildernesses and still home to the indigenous Sami nomads famous for their reindeer herds, Lapland is two different places depending on when you visit. A land of lakes and enchanting birch forest between May and September, it is the place to savour endless summer days, packing them with outdoor pursuits such as hiking wild mountain trails, floating down river on a raft made of logs, fishing on pristine lakes, foraging for the fabled cloudberry or simply taking in the colours of late August as the days shorten and rumour of winter grows.
When winter has taken its long residence, the silence among snow-laden trees can be absolute and the beauty of the landscapes and the winter light has an ethereal fairytale quality only added to at night by the cosmic storms of the Northern Lights.
This is the time to snowshoe into the forest stillness, test your legs and lungs on Nordic ski treks or mush the huskies pulling your sled along wild forest trails, sleeping in an ice hotel or a glass-domed Aurora viewing cabin. It is also a magical festive destination ideal for couples wanting to escape the usual yuletide at home and unforgettable for kids who can feed reindeer, get towed by snowmobiles and meet Father Christmas.
Both Swedish and Finnish Lapland are pretty well served with flights, MEETING SANTA Want to take your children to see Santa Claus in Lapland this winter? See our expert tips at telegraph.co.uk/ tt-xmaslapland rail and road connections but allow time for changing planes and airport transfers. Getting in and out of this remote region easily takes a day each way from the UK, so three or four nights spent here are a minimum for most, perhaps combined with a Nordic city break. heritage coastal town. Abisko National Park and the ski lift up to the Aurora Sky Station should be highlights, weather permitting. Great Rail Adventures (01904 521 936; greatrail.comom) offers eight days from £2,695, including flights, activities, rail travel and accommodation, most meals. Departures January to March 2018. Responsible Travel (01273 823 700; responsibletravel.com) offers five days from £1,410 including flights, activities, accommodation, meals. Departures between September and November 2017. hearty, tasty buffet local fodder and evenings in front of roaring fires. Exodus Travels (0203 131 2008; exodus. co.uk) has eight days from £1,399 including flights, accommodation, all listed activities and all meals. Departures between December 2017 and April 2018.
Northern Lights over Lapland, above; go reindeer sledding, right; Oulanka National Park, bottom right