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Santa’s Lapland Review: Day 2 – Search for Santa Day

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Search for Santa Day

Yesterday we shared our experience of arriving in Saariselka, Lapland, with Santa’s Lapland on a 3 Day Santa’s Magic Tour. The second day is a full day of snowy festive activity! As the coach took a turn off road and wound up a pine tree lined path the light changed, the dawn was slowly breaking, there was magic ahead…

Husky Sleigh Ride

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I will never forget the call of huskies ready to ride echoing across the snowy wilderness. Pink and orange hues flooding over the horizon. It’s a sound that seems to resonate deep within, at a subconscious level, the psychologist Jung talks of a collective subconscious, which we all share, and this is the closest I have come to experiencing what that might feel like, if that doesn’t sound too strange. It’s like the sound has always been with you, yet you are hearing it for the first time.

This was unanimously our favourite experience. As the kids sang and leapt about like penguins with the staff, the adults had a driving lesson. I was so excited to discover we actually got to drive the sled ourselves, I felt giddy with the responsibility, but of course, the dogs are the ones who are really in charge.

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The huskies are amazing, of the wild yet highly trained. One minute they are pausing to sniff a tree, just as our dog Max does, the next they are in perfect five formation, following their leader, the most experienced husky. The kids thought them managing to poo and run was brilliant and delighted in telling everyone all about that.

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I loved taking the helm, holding the bar and standing a foot on each runner, leaning left and right into bends, pushing with my foot to make the ascent easier and controlling the brake to ensure the sled stays behind the dogs on the way down. The 2k course allowed Mr A and I to swap over so we both got to experience both giddy highs – driving and snuggling up with the kids who loved watching as shouting encouragement to the dogs. What a way to travel.

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Afterwards we had chance to meet them, pet them and, in my case stare into their amazing eyes. Those eyes. They are incredible. From the back huskies are much smaller than you imagine, like domestic dogs, but when they turn round they instantly become wild again. Over 20% have eyes of different colours and 20% have blue eyes. Unlike what we have been fed by Hollywood, huskies are a mix of different dogs and are bred to work not to have a certain appearance, which is really apparent in the mixed colourings and shapes of our team. They are working animals and there are strict rules about their working day and routines. They are chained up because they love to run so much and if they were allowed to run free, they would run and would harm wildlife.

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Snowy fun and snacks

The Search for Santa day is organised around one site, you can move around the activities at your leisure, apart from the huskies, which you are given a timed slot for. It didn’t take us long to find the wigwam with free pancakes and warm juice or the free tea and gingerbread room. It’s unusual on a family day out not to have to think about money at all, and not to be faced with gift shops and merchandise. Bliss! Instead the kids got stuck into trying tandem skis, snowmobiles and sledging.

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Lunch

This was served in a hygge filled Scandi log lodge. Eating in a beautiful setting makes such a difference to me. Wiping up every last bit of sauce with freshly baked baguette, Mr A declared it the best Spag Bol he has ever eaten. I had a veggie option which was tasty and nutritious with beans and veg. It’s exactly the kind of food you need when it’s cold. We were recharged and ready to meet Santa!

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Snowmobile Santa Search

We became quite giddy waiting for this, there was a little queue as each family gets their own sleigh and Santa experience. But the staff had us singing by the campfire, and there was ice hockey and ice fishing for the kids to try.

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Our snowmobile-led sledge arrived and we sped off through the trees to meet the man himself. I won’t spoil the surprise, I’ll just share that even though my kids no longer quite believe (10yo) and are on a mission to disprove Santa (8yo) he made them smile and giggle a lot, and they really loved that he was reading from the letters they had posted to him. Their presents were perfect too!

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Reindeer Sleigh Ride

The light was fading fast as we gathered round the fire to wait for the reindeers. We snuggled and shared smiles and I love yous. My 10yo must have told me several times a day she loved me in Lapland, and my 8yo joined in and admitted ‘I kinda love you’, which is a very big deal for him.

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This was the perfect reflective end to the day, slow and mindful plodding through the snow, sleighs drifting through the woods, a strange Narnia like procession. A long chain of sleighs and reindeer forms, each creature stands slightly to the side of the sleigh in front so you can stare deep into their big black eyes and admire their incredible antlers. There’s a softness there, and a connection that you wouldn’t expect, a cross between a wild deer and a domesticated horse.

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Reindeer Show and Elf Igloo

Credit to the performers, these shows had my kids really giggling, but while I enjoyed the elves at the airport I felt the two short shows came across as a bit cheesy in the beautiful woodland snow setting. As an ex drama teacher I’m going to stick my neck out and say I think there’s opportunity for something less pantominesque, but I appreciate we all have different tastes. I think it could be spellbinding and magical rather than slapstick. However, the kids were very happy, it was amazing to set foot in a giant igloo and we learnt a lot of educational facts about Lapland and reindeer.

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Ice Bar

This was a fun distraction while we waited for the next show in the neighbouring igloo. Spot the fire exit gag in the pink pic!

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The Verdict

'I DO!' ... The woman behind the camera. Looking back on an absolutely epic day here with Santa's Lapland. I have a zillion gorgeous photos of happy kids, and one of me as always. Huskies, reindeer, snowmobiles, sledging, hot juice, gingerbread, pancakes, campfires, snuggles and so much love. Every time I looked round there were twinkles in my family's eyes. On the coach back to the hotel we had Michael Buble on the stereo crooning Christmas songs, 8yo asleep next to me with his present from Santa, and 10yo cuddled up with Mr A. I haven't felt festive this year and I haven't known why, but here, today, at last...I DO! Sometimes you just need to get away. This time last year I was in Bologna, it really is the best time of the year to travel, it gives you a chance to escape and get some headspace, plus coming home for Christmas is magic, especially with a head full of adventures at Santa's Lapland #santaslapland @espritholidays

I won’t lie, wrestling your whole family into long johns, snow suits, multiple socks, snow boots, mittens, hats and neck warmers ready for a Search for Santa Day is a challenge at first. We also spent considerable time debating layers before we left. Even though the forecast was 0 degrees at the resort, it’s often much colder at the artic circle where the activities take place. You definitely need long johns and long sleeved thermals followed by another long layered top and bottoms, followed by your thermal suit. All the sweating in the hallway was worth it though, as we didn’t feel the cold all day, or feel hot and sweaty, or like Michelin men again. In fact, I loved every minute of feeling totally snug in the snow.

It was an absolutely epic day with Santa’s Lapland. I have a zillion gorgeous photos of happy kids, and a couple of me as always. Huskies, reindeer, snowmobiles, sledging, hot juice, gingerbread, pancakes, campfires, snuggles and so much love. Every time I looked round there were happy twinkles in my family’s eyes. On the coach back to the hotel, fairy lights twinkled and Michael Buble on the stereo crooned Christmas songs. I watched our 8yo asleep next to me, and our 10yo cuddled up with Mr A. I hadn’t felt festive in the run up to Christmas and I hadn’t known why, but here was all that magic we’d dreamt of, and so much more besides.

We all felt so close, happy and content on our trip, it was a wonderful family bonding experience. We do a lot of family travel, and we promise you, it isn’t always this easy or as magical. We were unanimous in naming this our top adventure of 2016.

While it must be lovely to take kids at the peak of their Santa appreciating days, it really didn’t matter in the end what my kids feel about Father Christmas, the festive feeling Lapland delivers is the sum of many magical parts, not just the meeting with Santa. It’s a restorative experience for those ‘inbetweeners’ clinging on to believing, and perfect therapy for those filling the void of feeling a bit old for Santa.

Already we felt we’d had the best day ever as a family, but we still had 24hrs to go…

Gala Dinner

What’s a gala dinner?’ asked my 10yo.
‘I’m not sure’ I confessed. ‘Maybe it’s a way of making our last night sound less sad?’

It turns out a gala dinner is like all your Christmas dinners coming at once. In a secret upstairs room at the hotel, full of festive lights and twinkling snowflakes, a gigantic buffet awaited us. We pulled our crackers, donned our party hats and tucked in. I enjoyed veggie cutlets, carrot casserole and roasted veggies while the others tucked into meats and veg, and pizza, chicken nuggets and chips from the kids’ buffet.

Then cheese, pud, and dreams of other worldly landscapes, and moomins. I swear I dreamt of moomins. I blame the cheese.

I’ll be back on Monday with a snowy day at the resort, and footage of us attempting the longest toboggan run in Finland.

Here is the Search for Santa day in video, dive in, hope you enjoy!

 

Ready to find out more?

We travelled to Lapland as guests of Santa’s Lapland on a three day Santa’s Magic Tour which includes flights, transfers, accommodation, thermal clothing, a Search for Santa Day including a Husky Sleigh ride, Reindeer Sleigh Ride, private meeting with Santa by Snowmobile to his cabin, lots of snow fun activities including ice fishing, tobogganing and skiddos, breakfast, and for those who book half board, dinner and a Gala Christmas dinner. Four day tours are also available and there are optional extra excursions like Northern Lights tours. Find out more about Santa’s Lapland and book for 2017. Free child places are available, but are limited, find out more here.

Read my post about the journey and accommodation.

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We were unanimous in naming our Search for Santa Day with Santa's Lapland our top adventure of 2016

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25 Comments

  • Reply susanna

    Sounds like an amazing trip! I’ve always wanted to visit and it’s good to know that there is a company that will organise everything for you! I shall check it out xx

    06/01/2017 at 7:55 am
    • Reply Penny Alexander

      It was incredible and so stress free to have it all organised for you, especially at such a busy time of year! Do look into it!

      06/01/2017 at 5:31 pm
  • Reply Ness

    How amazing! The blue eyes of the huskies are beautiful and unusual. I love that they still have their wild traits but yet are highly trained and organised as well. A trip that will live in your family’s memories forever.

    06/01/2017 at 11:14 am
    • Reply Penny Alexander

      They are amazing Ness, wish I could have spent more time with them! Def one we will never forget.

      06/01/2017 at 5:31 pm
  • Reply Emma

    Oh Penny, it looks magical and I’m so surprised at how reasonable the prices are! It’s definitely something i’m going to look into over the next few years. xx

    06/01/2017 at 11:23 am
    • Reply Penny Alexander

      Your lot would love this Emma 🙂

      06/01/2017 at 5:32 pm
  • Reply HelpfulMum

    It just looks so spectacular. I have been drawn to Finland since I was about 6 and I even learned to count to 10 in Finnish (although I never got any further). I am determined after reading your post and seeing your gorgeous Instagram pictures that this is the year that we get to Lapland. It looks so utterly magical.

    06/01/2017 at 1:12 pm
    • Reply Penny Alexander

      That’s brilliant! I wished I had had more time to learn some Finnish. Oh I hope you go, a dream come true! Thanks re the instagrams too means a lot, it was a joy to photograph 🙂

      06/01/2017 at 5:33 pm
  • Reply Rosie Corriette

    Looks and sounds like you had an amazing time, I love how you said it was a great family bonding trip – plus the gala dinner sounds brilliant! I’d love to take Boo next year.

    06/01/2017 at 4:43 pm
    • Reply Penny Alexander

      It was awesome, what a year! Loved catching up on you and Boo’s adventure too. She would love this 🙂

      06/01/2017 at 5:34 pm
  • Reply Cass

    This just sounds like such a magical trip and I wish I’d done it with my two when they were younger. I wonder if they would still find it as magical now as I think I’d like to go after seeing this.

    06/01/2017 at 5:27 pm
    • Reply Penny Alexander

      I think Lapland has loads to offer for older ones too, check out my tobogganing on Finland’s longest slope on Monday!

      06/01/2017 at 5:35 pm
  • Reply Erica Price

    The husky ride alone looks amazing – that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

    06/01/2017 at 5:27 pm
    • Reply Penny Alexander

      Yep, I would have gone home happy after that alone Erica!

      06/01/2017 at 5:36 pm
  • Reply HPMcQ

    oh man i relaly do need to save my pennies for this!

    06/01/2017 at 7:10 pm
  • Reply Nell (the Pigeon Pair and Me)

    Perhaps those Moomins are also in our collecive subconscious, Penny! What a gorgeous post about an incredible experience. The eyes of those huskies….I had no idea so many were different colours. Really interesting. x

    07/01/2017 at 3:52 pm
  • Reply Kara

    You have whet my appetite even more, I would love to take my tribe. I have had a travel agent call back with a competitive quote and have picked up some hours at my local pre-school to pay for it. Fingers crossed I pull it off

    08/01/2017 at 3:59 pm
  • Reply Cathy (MummyTravels)

    I would absolutely love to do this with my daughter – I went to Lapland about five years ago and the husky ride was one of my highlights. The sheer joy you felt when they started running, and the absolute silence after their barking to be able to set off: amazing.

    08/01/2017 at 5:34 pm
  • Reply Mini Travellers

    What an utterly incredible experience Penny, the fun and the warmth shines out of all your photos, I just adore the huskies. So amazing.

    08/01/2017 at 10:30 pm
  • Reply Sonia

    Looks like you had an amazing time, it just makes me so excited for out visit to Lapland this year for my 40th! I can’t wait!

    09/01/2017 at 9:54 am
  • Reply JuggleMum, Nadine Hill

    What an amazing trip – I can see how this would definitely make it feel like Christmas as like you – I didn’t get that festive vibe this year on the run up at all! Those huskies were amazing – I loved how close they were with the kids in your photo and their eyes! Wow.

    09/01/2017 at 9:55 am
  • Reply Jen Walshaw

    I love that this trip is much more than just Father Christmas. It really looks like such an amazing trip and one that I really want to take with my family.

    10/01/2017 at 1:47 pm
    • Reply Penny Alexander

      Definitely! I actually think it could be marketed totally differently and pull in a wider age range.

      10/01/2017 at 3:18 pm
  • Reply Debbie

    We are going to Lapland in December 2017. What clothes do you wear for gala dinner? Just wondered if people dressed up!

    11/01/2017 at 7:21 pm
  • Reply oana79

    What an amazing, once in a lifetime adventure! I love the fact that it appeals to older children, compared to many other similar Santa experiences that are designed for younger children.

    18/01/2017 at 7:52 pm
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