Christmas is just round the corner. And if you are planning to send your wish list to Santa, it is not really too late - 96930, Rovaniemi, Finland is the address you need. Rovaniemi situated by the Arctic Circle is the capital of Finnish Lapland. And that is not all. Rovaniemi is the ‘official’ hometown of Santa Claus.
The Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi draws more than 300,000 annual visitors from across the world every year. According to the legend, Santa's 'original' home lies in the mysterious Korvatunturi (“Ear Fell”) in Finnish Lapland. However, as he wanted some privacy, he decided to establish an office in Rovaniemi, and since 2010, the city became the 'official hometown' of Santa Claus. It is from here that he packs his reindeer's and sets off with gifts for kids across the world.
Rovaniemi dates back to the stone age period. The economy was agrarian - fishing and hunting made up the life of the local people. During the World War 2, Rovaniemi was destroyed and its buildings razed. However, over years, the natural beauty of the place made it one of the most popular tourism hotspots in Finland.
What to see
There is snow, lots of it. There are reindeers, huskies, snowmobiles, ice fishing, skiing and the official Santa Claus Village built on top of the Arctic Circle marker. And this is the place where you can meet Santa Claus when he is not busy delivering gifts on Christmas eve.
A month before Christmas, Santa Claus declares the season open at the Village. On December 23, he departs on his mission - to hand out gifts to children around the globe. And it is a festive time at the Santa Claus Village. The elves put on a festive show of song and dance. If you cannot plan a trip, don't be dejected, you can watch the event live on Facebook.
Stop by at the Santa Claus Main Post office - and it is a real post office operated by Finland's national postal service. Every letter sent from here has a unique Arctic circle postmark.
Drop in at one of the reindeer farms, take a class in an elf school, meet Santa Claus in his secret cabin, go on a Santa Safari – the options are endless at Rovaniemi. It’s also a good spot to watch the Northern Lights from August until April.
How to reach
Helsinki is the nearest major airport. Charter flights are normal during Christmas. Rovaniemi can be reached by train, coach or car from anywhere in Finland.