News from the snow
Established in 1964, Levi is Finland's fastest growing ski area with the only two gondola lifts in the country. The 530m/1740ft Levitunturi ('tunturi' is Finnish for fell - a kind of mountain) is situated 170km/106miles north of the Arctic Circle in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Around midsummer the sun does not set and you can experience the nightless night, while in midwinter the sun does not rise for 2 months and there is a period of "kaamos" or polar night. Popular as a family resort, Levi is situated in the district of Kittilä which has a bigger surface area than Belgium and populated by around 6,000 people and 30,000 reindeer. Kittilä, a 15 minute drive from Levi, is a traditional Lapp village which has managed to combine modern with historic. Its worth visiting the museums here to learn more about the indigenous Sami culture. Geographically, Kittilä is in the centre of the fells district of Western Lapland and has 3 other major skiing centres nearby - Ylläs, Pallas and Olos. The capital of Rovaniemi 170km/106 miles, the nearest large town is famous for being Santa Claus's official home with Santa Claus Land a year round visitor destination. Autumn is known as the "Ruska", or rainbow season and as early as October the summits of Levitunturi are clad with snow blown in from the Atlantic, this is when the blue twilight of the polar night closes in, the midday dark of winter when daylight hours shorten. January is the coldest month with an average daytime temperature of -15C in the north but the climate is very dry so it usually feels warmer than it actually is. Even during mild winters Finland usually has a plentiful supply of snow because of east wind currents from Russia. The Finns are a very adaptable people and even in a winter rich with snow everything works as it should. The transport system functions in all weather conditions. The roads are always cleared and gritted, even in the middle of the night if need be. Railways operate to schedule, as does their national airline, Finnair, which serves one of the densest domestic networks in the world. The skiing season is a long one in Northern Finland beginning in October and lasting until at least mid-May while East and Central Finland's first snow usually arrives in December. High season commences in early February and during March and April the long days allow 16 hours of skiing under brilliant sun - night skiing is possible at this time without any artificial light. Snow conditions and hours of sunshine make it most favourable to ski in South Finland in February, Central Finland in March and North Finland in April. However, even in the pre-season when the days are shortest it is still possible to ski for at least five hours by daylight. Cross-country skiing originated in Finland and is one of the country's favourite sports. Levi has 230km of cross-country trails, 28km of which are illuminated. Lengths of trails vary and on the longer ones you can make your own meals on an open fire or stay overnight in log cabins or wilderness huts. By far the fastest means of transportation in the fells is the snowmobile and Levi has over 886km of Finland's best snowmobile tracks including a track to the top of Levi fell. Between 6 and 8m wide, tracks include warning/information signs and resting huts. There are approximately 1,000 snowmobiles in the area, 300 of which are available for rental and 700 privately owned. Kittilä has 3 snowmobile shops and repair garages. Many people visit for another reason - the hills of northern Lapland attract professional gold prospectors and this area is well known as gold country. Precious and semi-precious stones can also be found in the mountain streams.
One of the lagest ski area in Finland, complete with two gondola lifts, with all hotels and slopes linked by a free bus service. The resort has a sports centre and a spa with jacuzzi, pool saunas and steam room. 28km of the cross-country trails are illuminated. Lifts operate from 10am to 8pm and include the only gondola in Finland. There are 886km of snowmobiling trails in the area. Visits are arranged to Santa Land in Rovaniemi and there are trips to see the Northern Lights.
With 230km of cross-country tracks, 28km of which are illuminated for night skiing, Levi has one of the best network of cross-country trails in the country. The majority of trails are for intermediates but there are beginner trails and more challenging tracks for more experienced skiers. In 2004 the resort hosted the first ever Ladies World Cup event in Finland, followed by the Men's World Cup in Winter 2006-7.
The ski school have over 80 instructors, most of whom speak English and lessons are available in alpine, cross-country, snowboarding and telemarking.
Pistes are well maintained and snow cannons ensure that snow is always in plentiful supply. Due to the low temperatures, powder snow tends to stay light and last much longer than resorts further south. Levi fulfills international FIS and World Cup standards.
Children under seven years old with a helmet can ski free with parents and there are 10 ticket-free rope handle and Poma drag lifts specially designed for kids.
The Kid's Land childrens' skiing centre provides a safe on-snow environment for children up to six years while non-skiing children can register at the Tenavatokka crèche which is on the left hand side of the slope. The Hotel Levitunturi has a special childrens play house with a choice of slides, ball pools and two bouncy castles.
In addition there's a special daily programme every day in Kid's land. You may also borrow sledges, bobsleighs and junior snowboards for children to use. There is also warm juice available besides a warm campfire in the Lapp Kota. There's a familiy ski rental centre at Lift 8.
Dining and dancing go very much hand in hand in Finland, tango seems to be especially popular. The Hotel Levintunturi's restaurant also has the biggest dance floor in Lapland and tends to get quite lively late in the evening. For an unforgettable dining experience the Tuikku restaurant on the peak of Levitunturi has panoramic views and is the best way to see the Northern Lights.
Be it fine dining or a homey family restaurant, the menus always include seasonal delicacies as well as traditional courses. Original Laplander specialities are definately worth a taste: try reindeer, game, fish and berries in different forms.
The Hotel Hullu Poro (Crazy Reindeer) combines authentic Lapland atmosphere with excellent Lapp cuisine and plenty of fun. The Hullu Poro bar is a popular meeting place after skiing and there are the restaurants - the Kammi, a traditional Lapp restaurant complete with reindeer skins where all the food is prepared on an open fire. For Lapland delicacies try the rustic wood-furnished a la carte restaurant at the Crazy Reindeer. Meals are made from fresh Lapp ingredients and dishes include birch bud salmon soup, reindeer steak and cloudberry parfait.
For an evening of dance, the Hotel Levitunturi has the biggest dance floor in Lapland which has live music nightly year round. If you would like to spend an unforgettable evening under the Northern Lights then visit the Tuikku restaurant on the peak of Levitunturi. The Hotel Levitunturi hase their own nightclubs where you can dance until the early hours.
The Joiku karaoke bar and Seita night clubs are open weekends and there's live music from two bandas nightly through the peak March - April season.
The Hotel Kittilä have traditional Finnish dance music two to three nights a week and traditional ladies' choice dances on a Tuesday.
The resort has a terrain park and two half pipes, one of which is a 500m natural one with steep walls and good drops, its located below run 13. The snowpark contains jumps, rails, boxes and many more hits. It ever has its own website at www.snowpark.fi
The best powder faces are usually off Lifts 5 and 7 and powder tends to stay light longer here because of the low temperatures. Steepest slopes are the north-facing ones between Lifts 5 and 6.