In this episode of our travels across Finnish Lapland, we are going to discover the beautiful Lainio Snow Village. To my big shame, I have never been to this wonderful place before. When Lapland Safaris invited us for a visit, we gladly accepted the invitation. Although we were not planning to see the auroras, this particular night turned out to be particularly great in that department!
The Snow Village is situated in Northern Lapland, between two ski centres of Ylläs and Levi. The village does offer accommodation in the snow rooms, decorated snow suites, and log cabins, however, our place of residence for this trip was Lapland Hotel Saaga at the Southern side of Ylläs Ski Resort, Ylläsjärvi.
Having been hunting for auroras for many years now, I have almost developed a “sixth sense” who informs me when the big auroras are coming.
Sitting at the hotel room and checking the aurora data from my favourite forecast sources, I already felt the auroras coming! It was just over 5PM when I packed my camera gear and went outside the hotel to check the sky, and sure thing, there they were! Some nice looking aurora swirls dancing in the sky! I set my cameras on a tripod and started shooting. A French woman, walking towards the hotel, saw me with a camera, and with her lovely French accent, asked me a casual question : “What is the best time auroras?” (Obviously, she did even consider there might be any at this time of the evening)… To which I had only one short reply: “Now!”
Soon people started pouring from the hotel to see this amazing view. Granted, the hotel area is wa-ay to bright to make decent photos of the auroras, so we started our drive towards the Snow Village. Although the village is less than 20 km away from Ylläsjärvi, we had to make multiple stops to make some striking aurora photos. When the Northern Lights seemed to have calmed down, we have finally reached the village. They auroras still slightly visible above the main building.
It takes about 20 million kilos of snow, 350.000 kilos of crystal clear ice, and hundreds of hours of work by skillful ice sculptors to build this amazing structure. The design of the village varies from year to year. There are about 30 exquisitely decorated snow rooms and suites, an ice restaurant with the ice bar, ice chapel, as well as the myriads of beautifully decorated corridors. There’s even a cinema room!
The temperature inside stays at a “comfy” –2…–5°C, even though it might be –20°C outside, because snow is an excellent insulating material. The guests are given proper winter sleeping bags, but certainly, it requires sleeping in warm woolen clothes and long-johns The 24h reception of the hotel is heated though, and features the changing rooms and bathrooms.
There are several modestly decorated basic rooms, but also several exquisite and beautifully ornamented snow suites as well.
The rooms can fit up to 5 people.
This is a room for 3 people, for example. I don’t know the official names for the suites, but I think this one is inspired by the Scandinavian god Thor
I called this one a “Molecular man” room
Snow Village is a popular place for weddings and honeymoons, and there are several suites that are themed accordingly
Look at this beauty!
However, this room has made the biggest impression on me. Polar bears! The quality of the sculptures and the attention to detail is amazing.
The good thing about Lainio Snow Village is that you do not have to sleep at the hotel in order to see it. You can come for an excursion (15€ adult / 8€ child), or a have a dinner at the ice restaurant.
To dine in the ice restaurant, however, you need to reserve a table, something that we have neglected to do. Not to worry! We were seated at the second restaurant at the property, a heated and cozy log restaurant, where the breakfast for the hotel guests is also served. We understood that the menu is similar in both restaurants, so we did not miss anything flavour wise. The food was delicious! This is the Arctic Char dish:
And this is the Lappish traditional dish, sauteed reindeer with lingonberry jam and pickles. Juicy and delicious as well!
Next to the snow restaurant there is the ice bar. The amount of work and details is astonishing!
A closeup of the counter. Finlandia it is! 😉
Last, but not least, is the ice chapel, a place where gatherings and ceremonies are held.
While we were having dinner and exploring the snowy labyrinths, the auroras were preparing for a comeback.
At some point, the were so powerful, it was hard to believe it was happening for real!
The image is taken right next to the village as well.
The famous “corona” moment – aurora borealis directly above your head look like they are dispersing in every direction. An unforgettable site!
If you want to see how these auroras looked in action, check the following video I made in the village:
Our evening was more than successful! Granted, such powerful auroras do not appear every night, however, at this Northern latitude the possibilities for such an event are high. If you are visiting Levi or Ylläs next winter, make sure come here for a visit!
Facts about The Snow Village:
- Built for the 16th time in Winter 2016-2017
- Open daily for visits 10am-10pm
- 20 km from Ylläs, 40 km from Levi
- 30 snow rooms and suites, restaurant, ice bar, chapel