Rovaniemi, experiences under the full moon

Probably because of my design background, the Nordic designs I worked on gave me a wonderful impression of Scandinavia. Finland, Norway, Denmark have always been on the top of my travel list. The amazing fairy tale natural scenery is a big part of this attraction. After seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland, shuttling between the Fjords in Flåm, I decided Finland would be the perfect destination for me and my partner (Phyllis) to spend our Christmas. We chose Rovaniemi after getting some advice from my colleagues who had been to Lapland before, and we joined a tour with Lapland Safaris. We also planned to visit Sweden and Estonia, but the home of Santa Claus was the focus of our Christmas stay.

We arrived in Rovaniemi after a nine hour train journey from Helsinki where our B&B host was waiting to greet us at the train station. He used to be a tour guide with Lapland Safaris, so he drove us around and gave us an expert and warm introduction of the city. There are few landmarks around the city like museums, shopping malls and sports stadiums, but the biggest, most eyes catching sight here was the Lumberjack’s Candle Bridge which sat on the frozen river. I found a stunning view at the waterside, just outside of the Lapland Safaris office.

Jätkänkynttilä, the Lumberjacks Candle Bridge in Rovaniemi

Jätkänkynttilä, the Lumberjacks Candle Bridge in Rovaniemi – Ice covered and frostily beautiful

Unforgettable Christmas Experience

On Christmas Eve, we were on the way to find the Northern Lights after having a traditional Finnish meal with our host’s family. Because of my experience in Tromsø, I was a little worried about our equipment for this cold night in the Arctic Circle. Phyllis had never been anywhere so far north, so I was especially worried she would struggle with the cold. Our concerns were completely unfounded in the end.

When we arrived at the Lapland Safaris office, the staff brought us into the cloakroom. Equipment including socks, boots, scarves and waterproof overalls were ready for everyone – an impressive display of organisation and preparation.

We drove for about 50 minutes to get to the destination, and during the journey, our guide showed us a video explaining the Aurora Borealis and what causes the remarkable lights above the earth. The weather was not ideal that night, and we were told it was not too cold, but it might be too cloudy. While waiting for the sky to clear, our guide brought us into a tent with warm camp fire. He shared more about Lapland and some of his own travel experiences. It was interesting because there were people from several different countries, sitting together and learning some Finnish words and Finnish culture.

Although the Aurora Borealis did not show up in the end, the night was not disappointing at all. We were given some Finnish sausages for barbecuing and traditional berry juice to keep ourselves warm. It was also a good chance to meet new friends and exchange travel experiences.

At the end of the trip, we visited a local family nearby. Phyllis was so excited to see all the traditional decoration and garments in their Finnish cabin. The family was very friendly and told us a lot about the Finnish culture and the way they live.

traditional Lappish decorations

Traditional Lappish Christmas fun

Full moon night snowmobiling adventure

There was one other incredibly exciting activity in our trip I’d like to share – Snowmobiling. We were going with Lapland Safaris again, because they had just launched a new Moonlight safari trip on snowmobiles – it sounded so exciting and dramatic. We were kitted out with every piece of warm clothing imaginable, plus helmets and gloves for safety. Our instructors could clearly tell we couldn’t wait to get on the snowmobiles and gave a quick but clear introduction on controlling the vehicles.

After learning how to use the vehicle, we all jumped onto the vivid red snowmobiles. Listening to the sound of engine, lighting up the dark forest with the bright headlights, I was so excited to start.

Snowmobiling in Rovaniemi

Snowmobiling was one of highlights of the trip in Rovaniemi

We lined up in a row, driving the snowmobiles one after another to make sure we could pass the hand signals from the leader to the end of the line. It was really important to see hand signals from the driver in front of us to ensure a safe trip. We started the adventure at 5:30pm, in the pitch black. We could only see about 80 metres ahead in the lights, so it was really exhilarating. We used the hand signals to know when to stop or slow down. The best part was when we turned into a straight road which divided the forest in two. With a huge bright full moon right in front of us, it was like a dramatic movie scene. The whole journey was about 45minutes in total. Ginger biscuits and a hot drink were prepared at the end to help us warm up again. It was a wonderful night for me and Phyllis to experience in the dark but thrilling night of Rovaniemi.

There are lots of other activities to do and sights to see in Rovaniemi like visiting the famous Santa Claus Village, husky safaris and snowshoeing in the beautiful landscapes. I would definitely recommend Lapland Safaris for visitors going to Finland.

Their website is really user-friendly, and visitors can simply put the date of travelling, then a schedule will be shown with many different tour options.

Planning and booking in advance are very important especially when travelling to a popular destination like this. I hope everyone will enjoy visiting Rovaniemi as much as I did.

About the author of this post: Originally from Hong Kong, Chun Lok Lai (‘Rock’) now creates visually stimulating designs for The Luxury Travel Guide in the United Kingdom. As a long-time admirer of Scandinavia, Rock was finally able to visit Norway, Iceland and Denmark. Attracted by the beautiful world of bright sunshine, crisp winter weather and pure nature, his work with the magazine has encouraged him to travel the world, and this was an adventure he will remember for a long time.

Author: Lapland Safaris

This is the blog of Lapland Safaris, which is a company specialized in all sort of activities in Finnish Lapland both in winter and in summertime. In winter we enjoy snowmobiling, husky and reindeer-sledge rides, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing among other things. During the summer we cruise on river boats, visit the reindeer and husky farms, and hike in the forests. Do you have questions? Ask us anything in the comments of this post. We will be happy to help you!

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3 Comments

  1. Hey ! I noticed you were lokoing for a couch in helsinki on couchsurfing.org. I was gonna invite you but I was extremely busy at that time so I didnt. However I did bookmark your blog I’ve been following your journey in Scandinavia . I hope you had a great time in finland take care

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  2. Hi
    im very delighted reading your blog. Just i would need your advise and opinion. im planning going to Finland and ofcoz not to miss visit Rovaniemi and the activities.
    You travel from Helsinki airport to there by train of 9hrs. im not sure whether by plane or train?
    For your experience how many days sufficient to stay in Rovaniemi?
    Will i be able to see Santa Claus before 25th Dec? or he will always there during Dec?
    Thanks &* Regards.

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    • Hi Sue,

      Travelling by train is for some people an experience itself. Personally I’d travel by plane as in that time of the year it will be dark most of the time, so you won’t enjoy the views from the train.

      To fully enjoy Rovaniemi you’d need 3-4 nights.

      Welcome to Lapland!

      Julián
      Lapland Safaris Team

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