There's only going to be a few more years where a trip to see Santa in his Lapland home is going to be magical for Cate, so we decided this year to try out one of the day trip excursions on offer as a special birthday trip. We went for the Thomson one, which flew From Glasgow Airport out to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, in Finland, to visit Santapark. Once you've paid your (admittedly large) booking fee, everything is provided, from meals on the plane to access to all the things within the park, including snow suits for the outdoor portion.
It was an early start, waking up at about 5. However waking Cate up and telling her where we were going got her up and alert quick enough. The flight was at 7.30, taking 3 hours to get to Lapland, and the Thomson staff on the plane were great. Breakfast came round, the kids had plenty of colouring and quiz books to do, and a sing-song was started when we were getting close to our destination. As the whole plane was dedicated to this trip, the flight crew joined in the fun and the time passed quickly.
Arrival was fairly efficient: off the plane, through passport control, onto the bus and santapark was just 10 minutes away. It was just -6 when we were there, much warmer than it sometimes is, but we had a decent snow covering and it was snowing when we arrived.
Santapark itself is a large cavern, dug out of a mountain. You enter and walk down a long passage to get to the cavern, where we were given passports and maps, and our jackets were taken off us. The cavern has an eating area in the centre, with passages around it featuring the other indoor attractions. However we knew daylight was short, so we headed straight across to the outdoor activity exit.
We were given snow suits, hats, scarves and gloves for venturing outside. Following a path through the forest we found the outdoor activity area. Here we had a shot on a reindeer driven sleigh, a husky driven sled, a little hill for sledging down, and a teepee to sit in. There were skidoos as well but we didn't bother trying them. The reindeer and husky rides are fairly short circuits, but we enjoyed the experience. By the time we'd done all this it was getting pretty dark, so we were glad to have gone outside first.
Back inside and in our normal togs, we tried the various indoor activities. While Claire was waiting in the queue for Santa, Cate and I went to the elf school, where we were taught (in English and Finnish) by a couple of elves how to peek through windows, creep quietly and say the magic words that make Christmas special. Fully qualified, we went back to Santa's chalet to visit him. The standard present from Santa seems to be a Thomson the dog toy, but watch out for the photo opportunity. Santa sat us all down for a photograph, which was off offer outside for about £25. Thankfully I'd already taken a picture myself.
After visiting Santa we had a ride on the elf train. This is a Disney style ride on little carts through an elf workshop, with lots of animatronic elves working away making Christmas presents for the kids. It was pretty well done, but we were hungry now, so went to have our lunch. The assistant elf ticked off our passports and we were free to partake of the distinctly Ikea-style meals (meatballs or chicken nuggets were the main choices) though we did have to pay extra for a fizzy drink.
The eating area has a kids play area above it, round the edge, which is Angry Birds themed and which Cate really enjoyed. But onwards! Next was the elf workshop, where Cate made a little decoration, followed by Mrs Clause's bakery, where we were given a free ginger biscuit to ice, sprinkle and eat.
One of the highlights was next: the ice gallery. Before going in we we given some nice fur coats to keep us warm. The gallery has a collection of ice sculptures, including an ice throne and an ice bed which we were free to try out. It also has an ice bar where you can have a drink served in an ice glass.
One thing we'd seen on the way down and marked for later was the snow globe. This looks like a giant version of the glass globes you shake and watch the little white snow flakes fall through the water. Well this one was big enough to go inside, where the 'snow' was blown about and the kids could play with it. We were finding bits of plastic snow lying about on the plane seat and at home for the next day.
Last event of the day was a show, where some dancers acted out a play about elves delivering presents at Christmas and one going missing for a while. Some of the dancers appeared as jack in the boxes and other toys, but I was a bit confused as to where the pole dancer fitted in. Anyway, after this and a quick trip to the shops, it was coats on and back outside to wait for the bus back to the airport.
The airport was chockablock on the way back. Several plane loads of people had obviously just been kicked out of santapark and were now waiting for their planes' boarding times. The one little shop was a bit overwhelmed. Anyway, once on the plane it was just a 3 hour flight (with dinner) to get a hundred very tired children back to Glasgow and home to bed.
The next day it did all seem a bit like a dream, but we have the photos to prove it really did happen.
Overall it was a great trip, but next birthday we're going to the crazy golf.
Dave's Home Page