Following a friend's recommendation, we got in touch with Jane at FWS to arrange our family Christmas holiday. She was extremely helpful throughout the planning. We were provided with a detailed list of side trips available from snow mobiling through to ice fishing. As my daughter and son in law were travelling separately to us, she arranged for their ski passes and snow shoe hire direct with them. We hired our artic gear through her and as the temperature went down to -30 degrees C, this was a necessity which we collected from the local office.
The cabin was well equipped with everything you could possibly need; lovely and warm with its own 'in house sauna'. Any minor problems we had were dealt with by Jane remotely and very quickly.
Taxis were there to collect us from our flights and take us back at the end of the week.
Nothing was too much trouble for her and I'd thoroughly recommend using FWS if you intend to visit Finnish lapland.
We had such an amazing trip filled with family fun and winter magic, I would 110% recommend you book this cabin through Jane at Fun With Santa. She was so kind, helpful and professional. We were originally going to book everything direct ourselves, so had already booked the flights when we contacted Jane about booking her cabin. She gave us loads of advice on things to do and see, and booked all our excursions for us to save the hassle of us contacting companies in Finland ourselves. She charged no fee for doing this and the companies Jane used all had competitive rates and the experiences we had with them were priceless.
The cabin was lovely and cozy and we really enjoyed staying there. Our children even cried on our last night because they didn't want to leave. There was
a giant pile of ploughed snow just outside which the kids spent hours
sledging down every day. We built a big snowman by the front door - Mr
Frosty. It's hard work because the snow is like icing sugar and doesn't stick well but it's worth it. Guests that have stayed since we left have taken photos of Mr Frosty and sent to Jane for us so our children can see he's still there, which has been such a lovely gesture by Jane and her guests.
We arrived midday on a Monday, our first day, into Rovaniemi airport (a two and half hour drive from the cabin as flights were limited when we booked). We hired a car and despite my worries, my husband found it very easy to drive on the roads out there. Jane warned us to look out for reindeer and moose on the roads and luckily we didn't come across any! From the airport we drove down to Ranua Zoo (about 40 mins away). It really is well worth the trip if you get a chance. As well as all the other animals we wouldn't usually get to see ( including beavers, lynx, snow foxes, wolves, wolverines, moose and golden eagles), they had a polar bear and a cub. He was so cute we were all mesmerised watching him play. The enclosures were enormous and the animals appeared very well looked after. The polar bear was rolling around in the snow whilst her cub played and explored nearby. A sight few get to see first hand.
We stopped off at santa's official post office after on our way up to the cabin to break up the driving. We went there 12 years ago when on our honeymoon and it's changed so much and in my opinion is hugely built up and commercialised now. My husband and I didn't think too much of it, but the boys enjoyed it and spent some holiday money on husky and reindeer soft toys in the souvenir shops there.
We got to the cabin about 10.30pm. Jane's instructions on how and where to collect the keys from outside of the office's working hours were easy to follow and we had no trouble getting to the cabin. There was a folder in the cabin explaining how to work everything (dishwasher, sauna, heating etc) and we found everything very straightforward and easy to use. The children slept in the beds on the mezzanine and loved having their own little space in the cabin - it just added to the magic for them.
We spent Tuesday just playing in the snow and took the boys out to the lake
on the kick sled. That was hard work! But lots of fun. We went to the
supermarket too and I bought far too many snacks, sweets and chocolate
feeling nostalgic about the time I lived in Sweden as a child. I came home with a
suitcase full of junk food! The boys enjoyed being pulled to the supermarket in sleds then helping to pull the sleds back to the cabin laden with our supplies.
On Wednesday we had a husky sleigh ride. It was just as much fun as I
remember from our previous visit and the children loved it. The people running the safari were very friendly and informative. They invite you into a hut after to warm up over a hot drink whilst they answer your questions about the dogs and the racing they do. We also got to have cuddles with a puppy who was adorable.
After that day we went for our Santa visit. I cannot thank Jane enough for recommending that excursion. You get picked up from your cabin and taken into the woods in the middle of nowhere. Once there we got onto a sled pulled by a snowmobile and taken on a short ride down to a frozen river where we got in a sled pulled by a reindeer. We went along the river, the snow glistening all around us and the only noise coming from the reindeer's bell. It was simply magical. Santa was wonderful with the kids, so authentic and really funny. Thanks to Jane, he also had the letters with him that the children had sent to him. We spent 20 mins chatting to him in his little cabin before making our journey back up to a bigger cabin where we had soup and hot drinks. The children made little santas and decorated cookies with the elves, who were so much fun and really lovely. There were other activities to do with the elves before going back to the cabin. We played on kick sleds, normal sleds, the children had a go on a mini snowmobile and we even had a go with some snow shoes. That was much more exhausting than I thought it would be but heaps of fun. The elves were so kind and friendly I think the kids would have stayed with them all week if they could have.
Thursday morning my husband went snowmobiling for a couple of hours (this was very easy to book last minute on location) but the boys just wanted to play in the snow so I spent the morning sledging down various ploughed snow heaps and hills with them. After that we drove out to the snow village, which was well worth the drive (approx 30mins). We were completely blown away by the sculptures. They had a Game of Thrones theme and there were some incredible carvings. The boys spent half an hour playing on an ice slide and we bumped into the elves from their santa visit which made their day.
It was warmer than last time we went. It was between -15 & -25 on our last
trip. This time it stayed between -2 & -5 apart from Thursday when it
dropped to -20 so we were glad of all the layers we took and none of us felt
cold during our stay, which was good because I'd been worried about the kids
getting cold. If anything they kept overheating and sweating from all the sledging they
We were hoping to see the aurora but like our last visit it was too cloudy.
Thursday was clear all day but ended up cloudy half an hour before the
aurora would have been visible, so we'll just have to go again!
The village was much more built up than 12 years ago, which Jane had told us but we still loved it and it didn't feel busy. The cabin is in a lovely position
away from the main strip so it still had that magical eerie silence and
Massive thanks to Jane for all her help and for an amazing holiday. We were
itching to go back before we'd even left Finland. We all miss the snow
terribly. It's a good job Christmas was just around the corner when we got home so we had that to look forward to or we'd probably all still be feeling really sad to
be back in rainy old England. It really was a spectacular holiday and I
doubt very much we will be leaving it 12years this time before we go again!
We organised a one week holiday to Lapland for the kids to meet the "real Father Christmas" but thanks to Jane's help in organising the trip it became so much more. The highlight was of course the trip to see Santa which was made all the better by arriving by reindeer pulled sled. Other activities were also however very memorable including a huskie sled ride, snow mobile trip and of course the skiing. Our kids had never seen real snow before, let alone been skiing. The slopes from 10-17 December were amazingly quiet and ideal to learn on.
Jane's cabin was extremely cosy and one of the closer to the shops meaning it was possible to walk downhill when needed to buy food (taxi back due to the cold) and to the bus stop. And of course the kids just loved playing in the snow at the back of the cabin.
A truly memorable holiday - couldn't recommend it enough!
We booked a week in Akasolompolo through Jane. Without any hesitation this was the best week we have ever had! We are from QLD Australia so everything about it was very different to home. We enjoyed all the activities we booked, cross country ski lessons, ski-doos, husky rides and visit to Santa. We also booked the sauna and ice swim in the lake - such a great experience.
We were so lucky to see a magic display of Northern Lights one night as we walked home from dinner, colours just bursting in the sky.
Everything was perfectly arranged by Jane, transfers, tours etc. The cabins are wonderful and the Northern Lights cabin suited our family of 2 adults and 4 kids for the week perfectly.
Don't think twice, if you are considering going book it. Pack your thermals, warm socks and good gloves - also recommend little hand warmers (little hotties). The thermal overalls and jackets we hired were fantastic.
Jane was a superstar. She is so helpful in the booking and the cabin was just amazing. It really did live up to all of our expectations. Reindeer chilling in the forest, fresh blueberries, it was just stunning and views of the mountains were breathtaking. Definitely somewhere to go back to again and again.
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Highly recommend Fun with Santa for your Lapland adventure, Travelled with three children (21, 14, 4) so a mixed group of ages and interests. We flew via Helsinki with BA/Finnair to take advantage of the Christmas Markets in Senate Square. Wouldn't have done it any other way to be honest, stayed at the Hilton at Helsinki Airport and had a great time, connected to Kittilia following morning,
Beware if taking a domestic flight in Finland you can't stock up booze in duty free - rookie mistake! Buy it at Heathrow! (more of this later!)
Our arrival at Kittilia was jaw-dropping, landed in semi-darkness at 1.30pm in a light snowstorm, Wall to wall fir trees and snow from airport to cabin. (about 30 mins drive). How the cars - and coaches - can tank along at 70km per hour on those snow covered roads, when I can barely reverse of the driveway at home when the dashboard says 'below zero' I will never know.
We were all mesmerised by the location, it was like landing on another planet, never mind the north pole. The cabin was so warm in comparison to outside and very well stocked with everything we could need. The supermarket is a healthy 1km away but even with a 4-year old being pulled along behind on a toboggan, its a refreshing, exhilarating stroll and we felt lucky to be staying in the private cabins and not the various hotels along the short route, which were hectic places surrounded by coach loads of coming and going.
Our excursions were fantastic, we were there for four days in total, with a day's travelling either side. It's dark pretty much all of the time, except for sunrise/sunset which sort of merge between 11am - 1pm and then its dark again. A local guide told me the sun never rises above the horizon from Dec through to March, but in summer its light for 24 hours a day. Its the most phenomenal place.
Do the huskies tour, do the Santa visit with reindeer ride through the forest, do the snowmobiles (but if taking a child aged under 8 be aware they cannot sit on the snowmobile but have to travel in the 'side car' behind. Our 4 year old was fine with this but not all kids might be. Also we decided against the four-hour group snowmobile excursion for this reason and instead rented snowmobiles/sidecar ourselves one free morning, just for an hour. This was perfect for us as the snowmobile routes were well marked, it meant we could motor along at our own pace with the various age ranges and the four-year old only had an hour of belting along in a freezing side car.
Top takeaways (as this review could go on)
Firstly, book through Jane, she's so helpful and knowledgeable and if there's one place in the world you probably want a bit of help, the first time, - if only because it's pitch black most of the time - this is it.
1. Visit the snow village for a tour, but don't stay there if you like an indoor toilet (its a wigwam outside). The room is literally a bed of ice with a reindeer skin, you cant get into your 'room' before 10pm and you have to go for a wee outside.
2. Take hand warmers (like golfers use) - they're cheap and a lifesaver.
3. Wear two pairs of gloves, a thermal liner pair and a pair of ski mittens on top. No joke. Even 'quickly' taking a few pictures with the mittens off nearly resulted in frost bite, that's with the liner pair on.
4. It was -24c the day we landed. Its really really cold and you need to read several blogs on 'what to wear in the arctic circle' before you go. And buy everything it says, we wore it all.
5. Take - or hire- thermal boots because your feet are in contact with snow ALL the time and they get colder more quickly than anywhere else. No other shoes will do the job. Not even Timberlands which are not thermal.
6. Buy cheap booze at Heathrow, The Finnish supermarket sells a few 'local' beers. The offy next door sells international booze but at crazy prices, and it's hardly ever open. And it's a 2km round trip in -24c :)
7. Stay at jane's cabin or one of her neighbours cabins, because they offer a great vantage point for the Northern Lights away from the village in a quite woodland location. We saw the Northern Lights on the last night, right outside the cabin, and it was magical.
8. If you stay at Jane's - eat at Poro the first night, it's a very short stroll (five minutes along the road, or two minutes through the wood). After the first night you can decide whether to venture to the village pizza places or eat at Poro again (and again). Food was very good. People say it's expensive but I think it depends on your usual dining experience. Its not the cheapest restaurant in town but it's not michelin starred, It's decent food at decent food prices. Note however that restaurants are not allowed to sell 'takeaway' booze, so a snowy walk from cabin to Poro through the woods one evening to pick up a bottle of wine was a futile trip.
9. Take DVDS and books and magazines!! The Fins may speak English but they dont watch English TV (or even American TV). There were no books or magazines of any description in our cabin (even in Finnish, which I would readily have learned after five quiet evenings) and the local supermarket does not sell any form of English-speaking entertainment.
10. This is one the best holidays you'll ever have.
Very happy to answer any questions, I had a million questions before I went and having now travelled there with a four-year old, 14 year old and 21 year old, as well as hubby, I feel I could answer a few things if not everything!
Where do I start...... I guess with Jane, who arranged everything for us, from the cabin to the transfers to Santa to the husky rides. Nothing was too much trouble, and it felt like a real personal service. So thank you Jane….it was outstanding!
The cabin is fantastic, it is situated right on the edge of the woods, if you're into cross-country skiing you can literally step outside your door in the on the tracks. For us with two small children we played outside at the back of the cabin around the front of the cabin where we made a toboggan run.
It was an excellent location very peaceful, you felt like you're in the wilderness and yet, only a short walk to an excellent restaurant Poro and other amenities.
The cabin was lovely and cosy, and we used the sauna a couple of nights too. It was great for family of four but you could easily sleep 5, as the bedroom upstairs has the sofa bed too. I have to say this isn't a typical rental, you're sharing someone's home from home, it's really well kept, and very welcoming.
It's very difficult to put into words how magical this place is, it's like stepping right into Narnia, and I have to say it wasn't easy to leave.
I can recommend the husky rides, and Santa, who came to our cabin was fantastic! We made the decision to go in January so the children could say thank you to Santa, we did this so that we could miss the December crowds. As we are a family who like to escape to the quieter and more peaceful locations.
The ski slopes are not so far away we took a short bus ride and all had our first ski lesson, the instructors were brilliant.
We are also fortunate enough to see the northern lights on our trip.
All in all an excellent holiday, I have to say I think we will be back.