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The unique location of Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle attracts around 500,000 visitors annually from all over the world. Its main attraction is Santa Claus Village where you can officially cross the Arctic Circle and meet Santa Claus on any day of the year. Although the outlook of the area is a very modern one, the history of the region stretches back some 8000 years. For thousands of years Rovaniemi was just a stop-over place for hunters, fishermen and tradesmen who exported mainly furs from north to south. It was permanently settled in the 11th to 12th centuries and at the turn of the century began to grow into the administrative, cultural and commercial centre of the Province of Lapland. The modern outlook of the town is due to WW2 when, in 1944, it was almost totally destroyed by the retreating German army. Only a few buildings remained and it was reconstructed to the town plan of famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Some of the most prominent buildings in Raovaniemi, the Lappia House, the library and the Town Hall were all designed by him. In the past few decades Rovaniemi has grown into a busy and active town with a population of around 35,000. Tourism has always played a large part in the development of the area and is still the fastest growing industry. In the early days events like the Rovaniemi Fair brought people from all over Finland and northern Scandinavia and it is still held 3 times a year. Songs have been written and films made about the Fair as well as numerous legends about lumberjacks and goldminers. Nowadays, some of the main events attracting visitors to Rovaniemi are the Arctic Rally, Reindeer City Race, Ounsavaara Winter Games, Jutajaiset Folk Festival, Roots' River Blues Festival and various festivities at Christmas time. This is one of the best areas to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis - nature's own fireworks display which can be seen in the Arctic and Antarctic regions on clear, dark nights. The Finnish name for the lights (revontulet) comes from a Sami, or Lapp, legend whereby the tail of a fox running along snow-covered fells strikes the snow drifts, sending a trail of sparks into the sky. Revontulet literally means "foxfire".


In southern and central Finland the snow settles at the beginning of December and melts in open places in mid or late April, and in the forests (65% of the total land area) at the beginning of May. In northern Finland the snow settles about 5 weeks earlier and melts about 3 weeks later than in the south. Ounasvaara Ski Centre ( has 4 ski lifts providing uplift capacity of 3,700 skiers per hour. All the runs have been cut through thickly forested slopes and there is a good variety of slopes for all abilities from beginners to the more advanced skiers. Tottorakka is the most advanced ski area with its own FIS slope used regularly by the world's slalom elite. Children have their own Staalo slope and a rope-tow. Slopes are groomed every day and floodlit for night skiing.


The ski slopes at Ounasvaara have easy, nursery slopes suitable for children as well as their own rope tow. Rovaniemi itself is ideal for families with Santa Claus the main year-round attraction. Santa Claus Village is on the Arctic Circle 8km north of Rovaniemi. It has several souvenir shops specialising in Lappish handicrafts, as well as good places to dine or simply enjoy a coffee. The main Santa Claus Post Office is in the middle of the village and there are also a number of activities organisers and an information centre, "Etiäinen" run by the Forest and Park Service. Santapark ( is 2km from Rovaniemi Airport and Santa's Workshop. Santapark is a Christmas theme park for all the children of the world, whatever their age. Racetracks and games, a Christmas carousel, multimedia theatre, puppet show, climbing adventures, sledge ride, exhibitions, , cafeteria and shop. The Christmas theme park is brimming over with things to see and do. In the centre of the cave is a Christmas carousel, welcome visitors all-year-round. A multivision theatre tells the story of Christmas, and sledges go racing through the changing seasons and the changeable landscapes of Lapland. A miniature train or snow scooters take visitors from the Santa Claus Village to Santapark. Santa's Reindeer Park is the place where Santa's reindeer graze and is a must for anyone who has made it all the way up to the Arctic Circle. The Santa train stops at the Reindeer Park as it plies the route between SantaPark and Santa Claus Village. Information on every aspect of reindeer herding both past and present, the sort of life these animals lead in the harsh northern climate, and the culture and occupations of Lapland is available at the farm in the park. The Reindeer Park is open at the same time as SantaPark, and at other times for groups by prior arrangement.

Eating Out

For dining out in Finland you can choose from small, intimate eating spots to restaurants at top-flight conference centres and congress venues. Menus generally reflect the season. In summer new potatoes, fresh vegetables, salmon, especially when slightly salted, whitefish, and Baltic herring are available. Crayfish are in season from about 20th July until September. Mushrooms and game come later in the autumn. Cloudberries, blueberries and lingonberries are often served for dessert. In winter fine fish, such as turbot, whitefish and other members of the salmon family, hauled from under the thick ice covering the sea and lakes, are popular. Lappi à la carte consists of gourmet menus created out of the unique ingredients available in Lapland and of traditional Lapp dishes served in the restaurants. Inexpensive lunches are served at places called ''kahvila' and 'baari' (the Finnish word 'baari' does not usually mean a bar licensed to sell alcohol'. Restaurants serve beer and other liquor from 9.00pm, though not all restaurants are licensed to serve alcohol. Rovaniemi has the world's most northerly MacDonalds. Reindeer is a favourite traditional dish and the Sky Hotel with its panoramic restaurant is one of the best places to enjoy sautèed reindeer.


The ski area is close to the city of Rovaniemi so there's a good variety of nightspots. Whether you prefer a non-smoking cafe bar, restaurant or somewhere to dance the night away you are sure to find somewhere to suit.


Ounasvaara Ski Centre has a halfpipe and a variety of table-tops and jumps.

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