Journey to Santa Park in Finland

The aspiration to visit Lapland had been long-held, and eventually, an opportunity emerged through a tour operator offering a visit to Santa Claus’s residence, prompting us to seize the chance. The entire journey was framed as a venture into a fairytale world, enveloped in enchantment and a touch of mystery, coupled with the nostalgic allure of the New Year festivities from childhood.

Cathedral

Our trip commenced by bus, including a stopover in Oulu, where snowfall persisted. The city streets, laden with a thick blanket of snow, contrasted starkly with St. Petersburg’s damp and chilly atmosphere, evoking wonder and appreciation for the falling snow.

Downtown

Oulu appeared serene and tranquil, with scarce vehicular activity, making our evening stroll immensely delightful. Notable spots included the Cathedral, Downtown, City Hall building, as well as shopping hubs like Prisma, City Market, and Ryoka, where we replenished our supplies. Remarkably, the Finns effortlessly maneuvered on bicycles despite the snowy terrain.

City Hall building

Setting off the following morning towards Rovaniemi, a 221-kilometer journey, we were immersed in the sight of lavish forests along the way. While most forests in Finland are privately owned, they graciously welcome visitors. The well-maintained appearance, adorned with festive houses displaying Christmas trees and twinkling garlands, bestowed a fairy-like ambiance upon the snow-clad forests.

Eventually, we arrived at Santa Park, nestled within rock formations. Entering through a nearly 200-meter-long passage, the tunnel resonated with sounds and echoes, leading to a central square within the cave. Here, one encountered mischievous elves and embarked on an enchanting exploration of Yolupukki’s world, the Christmas grandfather, reminiscent of the charitable Nicholas the Wonderworker.

The tunnel into the park is filled with sounds and howls.

Activities within Santa Park were abundant. Visitors were invited to cross the Arctic Circle underground, experiencing the North wind and snow, followed by a visit to the Ice Princess’s realm. Santa’s mail service facilitated sending postcards, while the Magic Train journey transported guests through diverse seasons, culminating in the gnome’s toy workshop.

Polar circle

The Angry Birds playground catered mainly to younger children, offering electronic games and playful frolic. Engaging shows by the elves, a School of Calligraphy for wish-writing, a School of Elves for certificates, an Elven Workshop to craft Santas, and a cozy cafe with a gingerbread bakery ensured a fulfilling experience.

The highlight remained meeting Santa in his office, where photographs and interactions were cherished, despite the nominal fee. Additionally, opportunities to pose as an elf for an emailed photo were available.

A few kilometers away lay the Santa Claus Village, promising winter activities and the main post office, a tale to be detailed in the subsequent narrative.

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