Rebecca went on the Santa’s Magic package with Santa’s Lapland with her husband and 2 children, Fergus, 6, and Rafferty, 3, in the Christmas holidays 2018.
How much does it cost in 2019?
For 2019, the price for a family of two adults and two children aged 2-5 starts at £3,216 staying at Santa’s Hotel Tunturi, Saariselka.
Obviously, that’s a lot of money but as experiences go, it’s right up there as a pretty magical family experience for us.
The trip more than lived up to what was set out in the brochure and exceeded my expectations in many ways. For example, there were special touches such as a reindeer waiting to meet us at the airport and a band of cheeky elves waiting to wave to us as our coach arrived in Saariselka.
So, even though it’s expensive I think it’s still good value.
Our package included flights, transfers in Finland; 2 nights’ in a family room at Santa’s Hotel Tunturi; half board including a gala dinner on the second night, plus lunch on the ‘Search for Santa day’.
Plenty of activities were included in our trip , from a snowmobile sled ride and private family meeting with Santa, to husky-sledding, a reindeer ride; igloo experience show and ice activities.
We were also impressed to find thermal clothing is also included!
Any extras you have to pay for?
The extras we paid for when we were there were 2 lunches, wine at the gala dinner, drinks in the Ice Bar and souvenirs. There was a nice souvenir shop in the hotel, which had lots of things like cute husky teddies and hats.
In terms of excursions, there are some optional extras you can add onto your trip, such as:
- Northern Lights Adventure: A 2-hour long evening excursion by snow-mobile looking for the Aurora Borealis, adults £101, children 4-11 years £79
- Rudolph’s Reindeer Run: A 1-1.5 hour trip, you visit a reindeer farm then take a reindeer ride through the forest: Adults £106, children (2-11) £82
- Husky Heaven: A 2-hour trip that includes a trip to a husky farm and an extended husky ride: adults £114, children £88
- Family Snowmobile adventure: A 1-1.5 hour trip, where you can explore the snowy landscape by snowmobile. Adults £79, children (3-11) £66
- Lapland downhill skiing: A 3-hour session on the slopes. Adults £62, children (7-16) £52, under 7s £29
What were the highlights?
There were so many highlights of the trip, many of which happened on our ‘Search for Santa Day’. This was our second day when we got taken to an Arctic Circle Centre to take part in loads of snow-based activities.
- Being whizzed through the woods on a husky-sled ride was a standout moment!
- Sipping Baileys hot chocolate in the Ice Bar, which had tables made of ice and ice sculpture
- The main event, which was our private family meeting with Santa!
- We also loved zipping through the snowy forest at night on our Northern Light Adventure by snowmobile
What happens during your private family meeting with Santa?
We were met by ‘Lapland rangers’ who guided us to our snowmobile-pulled sleigh, then we set off through the woods and over a frozen lake in search of Santa.
Eventually we started to spot large boxes of wrapped up presents scattered around giving us a hint we were close by.
We finally found Santa’s log cabin, greeted by some playful elves who took us inside to meet Santa. I thought Santa was a rather convincing, he had a great costume too!
He greeted the children by name, and then produced the letters they had written to him, which they were amazed by!
Santa spoke to them about what was on their list (Lego, like this kit from Amazon, was high up!), and asked his elves to check to see if they had any of the things on the list in his workshop.
Then they both got a present – a lovely stuffed teddy.
How long do you spend with Santa?
The meeting with Santa himself was about 10 minutes, but the entire experience including the snowmobile rides took more like 45 minutes.
Can you take photos with Santa?
Yes. There was an elf on hand to take family photos of us, which were taken on our own camera – it was nice that this wasn’t something you had to buy.
What other activities are included in the package?
- Husky-sledding: This was absolutely fantastic. First of all we gathered around for a lesson about how to control the huskies, then it was time for us to get on board the wooden sled. I was sat in the back, with both children in front of me, while my husband Paddy stood at the back and was in charge of the dogs.
From the moment the huskies set off it was exhilarating; watching the 6 dogs take off at such speed was wonderful and both children thought their power and speed was incredible.
We went into the woods, following a trail, before eventually heading back to the finish. Afterwards we could stroke the dogs, who were all very gentle and seemed to love the attention. In hindsight, I wish we had booked to take part in the longer husky experience, I think it would have been amazing.
- Igloo Fantasia: This takes place inside an absolutely enormous igloo. Once inside, the children sit on benches towards the front, with adults behind and enjoy a show put on by two elves. I thought it was really good; it was aimed at children – and some of the grown ups were asked to get involved too which all the children seemed to find highly amusing!
- Reindeer Sleigh ride: Reindeers are synonymous with Christmas, so getting a ride on a sleigh pulled by a reindeer was brilliant. Each sleigh could fit 2 people, so I snuggled down with Rafferty, while my husband took Fergus. The reindeers seemed very gentle but they had remarkably large antlers! We went on a guided walk through the woods, I think it was about 10-15 minutes – if the reindeer element is important to you, you can take an extended trip. Also, while we were waiting we met 2 reindeers, one was called Rudolf, which the children found very exciting! The children were told his nose only glows red on Christmas eve. There’s also a Reindeer Barn where you can meet them too.
- Other snow activities: There are loads of other things to enjoy at Arctic Circle Centre. Fergus’ favourite was going ice-fishing, where you sit on a frozen lake and try your luck trying to catch a fish through a hole drilled in the ice. He also loved driving a mini-skidoo – which is like a miniature snowmobile. We all loved the kick-sledding and ice hockey. There were ‘warming tents’ called Kotas, where you can sit by an open fire and drink hot berry juice. I particularly liked the Ice Bar, which was a large Kota – a wigwam style tent – and inside it were tables made from ice and there were ice-sculptures inside. I had a rather delicious Baileys hot chocolate.
What’s the Northern Lights Adventure like?
Brilliant! We met in the early evening at our hotel and went to get kitted out with balaclavas and helmets then set off to find our snowmobiles.
Fergus, Rafferty and I went in a sleigh being pulled by a snowmobile, while my husband Paddy went on his own snowmobile. We went zooming through the forest in search of the Northern lights.
After about 15 minutes we arrived at a camp fire, which we sat around and sipped on hot berry juice and snacked on gingerbread biscuits, while our guide told us a folk story about the Northern Lights.
We got back into our sleigh and continued following trails deep into the forest, away from any light pollution to increase our chances of seeing the sky light up with colour.
Sadly, we didn’t see the Northern Lights but we weren’t too disappointed, going on the snowmobiles was great fun and we know that nature doesn’t work on demand!
I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights so I was so keen to do this excursion.
What do you need to pack?
You do get given a thermal suit, mittens, woolly socks and boots when you arrive but Santa’s Lapland gives lots of information on what clothes you should pack to make sure you’re warm enough when you’re there.
We packed thermal vests, thermal longsleeved tops and leggings and socks, spare gloves and glove liners, balaclavas for the children and LOTS of layers.
Also, we took a portable mobile phone charger as we had been warned that phone batteries discharge very quickly in the Arctic.
Is the experience pushchair-friendly?
I saw a couple of people with pushchairs in Saariselka although I didn’t see anyone with one on the ‘Search for Santa’ day at the Arctic Circle Centre; I think it would be pretty tricky to get around with one as you are walking on snowy paths!
Rafferty doesn’t really use a pushchair anymore but when his little legs got tired we just used a toboggan to ferry him around, a lot of other people were doing this too.
How well does Lapland cater for disabled visitors?
Selected hotels offer wheelchair accessible rooms. I’m not sure how easy it would be to get around on the Search for Santa day in a wheelchair as there were lots of snowy paths to negotiate. The best thing would be to speak to Santa’s Lapland directly.
Are there any options to make the experience more enjoyable and accessible for children with additional needs?
There are many sensory experiences on the trip which could make the experience more enjoyable for children with SEN or visual impairment. They may enjoy singing on the coaches; the coloured lights in the ice bar kota at the Arctic Circle Centre. The huskies are quite noisy to begin with but then they’re silent when they’re running and very calm afterwards so children can pat the dogs once they are back – the dogs seemed very happy about this too!
How cold does it get?
I think the most important thing is to not underestimate just how cold it is. The temperature can fluctuate a lot, and the Arctic Circle Centre it can be 10 degrees colder than Saariselka town, so pack carefully and take loads of layers!
What kind of thermal clothing is provided?
We were each provided with an all-in-one thermal suit, woolly socks, mittens and boots. And boy did we need them! It’s so cold you actually wear your coat – and lots of layers – under the thermal suit, which seemed to be an excellent quality.
The mittens were very thick, they were leather with a woolly inner layer, again you can wear a pair of inner gloves underneath to give you some more warmth. The woolly socks and boots were brilliant – they kept my feet toasty warm.
As I said earlier, it’s all about layers so we packed loads for each of us – including multiple thermal tops each! As well as the obvious, hats scarves – balaclavas are a good idea too as your face can get quite cold.
MFM tip: One thing we realised when we were there was just how long it took to put all our cold weather gear on all of us and we found we were rushing to get ready in the morning. In hindsight, we should have factored in more time to get ready.
What are the food and drink facilities like throughout the trip?
The food at the hotel was hearty fare and there was enough choice to keep everyone in our family fed and happy. We had lunch in the hotel bar when we arrived and were happy with our pizzas that we ate, other things on the menu included burgers, fish, pasta etc.
We were staying on a half board basis, but thanks to a late lunch and very tired children we missed dinner on the first night.
However, on the second night we really enjoyed our ‘gala dinner’ – meant everyone was wearing Christmas jumpers, listening to Christmas music, and eating Christmas dinners!
I had lovely salmon to start, followed by baked ham, roast potatoes, vegetables and a red cabbage casserole. It was a buffet so I served the children some Christmas dinner, although they did also enjoy the sausage, chicken nuggets and chips on offer too.
For dessert, there were cakes, biscuits and cheese on offer – including a rather delicious blue cheese from Finland.
I thought there was a good mix of dishes that will satisfy picky eaters, like sausages and chips, but also more adventurous things you could try. In the bar I had a Salmon-Rye burger – a fried salmon fillet, topped with smoked salmon and with rye bread as the bun – it was very tasty.
Breakfast had a wide selection on offer: cereals, lots of different types of bread you could toast, jams and spreads, cheeses and cold meats, scrambled eggs, beans and even meatballs on one morning.
There were vegetarian options too and I also saw some gluten-free options as well.
It was all good quality and there was no shortage of tables and staff were attentive too, so a big thumbs up from us.
What was the journey from the UK like?
It was brilliant from start to end. When we arrived at Birmingham airport there were staff dressed as elves to meet us. They handed us a huge photo frame, which we held up in front of us as the staff took our picture. The children were given large elf teddies to hold for the photo too and it really helped with the Christmas spirit!
We flew with Jet2.com and the flight was great. You can’t pre-book seats but they allocate families so they are sat together.
When we arrived in Lapland there was a reindeer there to greet us, then we had Christmas carols on the coach – and as we approached the town we were staying in – Saariselka – there were elves on the street waving at us.
What’s the accommodation like?
We stayed at Santa’s Hotel Tunturi – a cosy, welcoming hotel with helpful staff. Guests stay in different blocks in the grounds, ours was a few minutes’ walk from the reception building.
You can book the hotel directly, but I think doing this kind of trip on a ‘DIY’ basis would be pretty difficult compared to going on a package like we did where everything is laid on.
Are the hotel facilities family friendly?
Yes, it was definitely family friendly, there was a games room with air hockey and table football which kept my children happy, plus there’s a cosy lounge where children can sit on squishy bean bags and watch cartoons.
You can hire toboggans from reception (although we found there were loads available on the toboggan run you could just borrow for free), there’s a reception lounge area and a cosy lounge bar, which were both nice places to sit, especially one of the tables which was next to an open fire.
There was free WiFi is available in rooms, plus there’s a souvenir shop and a bureau de change.
If you’re staying at the hotel you can access the leisure centre at the nearby Holiday Club hotel, which is about 5 minutes’ walk away, which has a swimming pool, a children’s pool, water slides and chutes.
Parents can use the hotel microwave to warm bottles, and you can store milk in the hotel reception’s fridge if needed (there’s also a kettle and a fridge in your room).
There were some lovely touches too, at the gala dinner, all the children were called to join in a sing song which was fun and there was a disco afterwards too.
Is there a babysitting service?
There isn’t a baby-sitting service at the hotel. However, we were way too shattered after all our fun doing activities I can’t imagine wanting to go out in the evening once the children were asleep!
What are the rooms like at Santa’s Hotel Tunturi?
There’s a wide range of room types available – we were in a Type A Family Room, which sleeps 2-4 people. It had a double bed plus a fold-out sofa bed for the 2 children.
The room also had a TV (although I couldn’t find any children’s channels) a comfy chair, a fridge, a table, and a wardrobe.
The room wasn’t massive but there was enough room for all our things. And the beds were definitely comfortable enough, I slept like a log! There was a hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities.
If your budget can stretch to it, the next category up is a Type B Family Suite. This sleeps 3-4 and has a separate bedroom and lounge – great for those who are keen to get the kids to bed then have some alone time.
And if you really want to splash out, you can book a room in the luxurious Gielas wing, where all the rooms have balconies.
What’s the bathroom like at Santa’s Hotel Tunturi?
The bathroom was quite basic; there was a shower, sink and loo plus a long heated towel rail which was good for drying off wet hats and gloves.
There were also lots of hooks where we could hang up our thermal suits.
Soap and shower gel was provided but there weren’t child-friendly loo seats in our room.
What is the hotel near to?
In the town of Saariselka there’s a brilliant toboggan run you can enjoy, plus it’s home to some fantastic cross-country skiing trails. There’s a range of shops and restaurants in the town too.
How can I book the Santa’s Magic package trip?
This was a truly magical holiday for us, particularly as we went just before Christmas. Meeting Santa was wonderful, and along with all the other snowy activities it added up to being a trip of a lifetime for us all, in particular the husky-sledding. And being able to take a Northern Lights excursion by snowmobile was the icing on the cake.