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AdobeStock 229522011 NV Santa in the snow

Christmas in Lapland: Your Complete Guide

Last Updated: 17/10/2023
Posted in: Blogs, Lapland, Sweden, Finland, Guides

If you’re looking for the ultimate Christmas break in an Arctic wonderland, consider visiting Lapland.

Here, you could be out decorating a Christmas tree and be lucky enough to meet Santa and his reindeer. Or, head into an enchanting snowy landscape on a husky sled ride, then spend the night in a glass-roofed igloo.

In whichever way you want to experience Christmas in Lapland, you can find your ideal winter escape.

Keep reading to learn the top places to visit, activities to try, how long to stay and what to wear. You’ll discover everything you need to know to plan your most memorable Christmas yet.

Red cottage set in the snowy countryside in Lapland

Where to go to experience Christmas in Lapland

You can choose from a few main towns in Lapland for the best yuletide celebration. But you’ll certainly be in for a treat if you visit Rovaniemi, in Finland, or Kiruna, in Sweden.

On a Rovaniemi trip, you’ll savour the endless festive cheer because it’s the official home of Santa Claus. Meet the “man in red” and venture out on a reindeer safari ride.

You can take your pick of activities to connect with the frozen landscape. Imagine heading out on a snowmobile ride and then ending the day gazing up at the northern lights.

Alternatively, book a trip to Kiruna, the northernmost city in Sweden. Explore Kiruna’s iconic ICEHOTEL and enjoy a wide range of snow-based excursions.

Both hubs provide a memorable Lapland Christmas experience. The blend of nature’s wonders and the joyful spirit here will have you packing all your winter clothing, ready for your trip. 

The Northern lights dancing above the ICEHOTEL in Sweden
The Northern Lights above the infamous ICEHOTEL in Swedish Lapland

Where to stay in Lapland for Christmas

You can choose from a variety of accommodation types in Lapland such as hotels, cabins, igloos and ice hotels.

In Sweden, you could stay at Camp Ripan to experience the Arctic wilderness from the comfort of a private cabin. Take advantage of the on-site spa, where all of the facilities have a view of the starry night sky.

For an unusual stay, spend a night in one of the iconic Nordic ice and snow hotels. Here, you will sleep in a room entirely sculpted from ice – walls, ceilings and even the bed.

As you enter, you’ll be mesmerised by the intricately carved sculptures and the glow from the thick ice walls. Snuggle up in your expedition-style sleeping bag and breathe in the fresh Arctic air as you drift off to sleep.

Or stay in a glass igloo in Finland, where you’ll sleep under a domed glass roof that allows you to stargaze. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to watch the northern lights dance above you as you lie in bed.

You’ll remain warm and comfortable inside your glass igloo thanks to the insulated walls and heated glass roof.

Inside one of the icy rooms at the Arctic SnowHotel ©Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos
Arctic SnowHotel in Finnish Lapland ©Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos

Top activities to enjoy on a Lapland trip

You won’t be short on Christmassy things to do when visiting Lapland in winter. With fluffy snow and vast Arctic scenery, there are plenty of exciting activities to try.

1. Visit Santa Claus Village

Transport yourself to a place where dreams come true and search for Santa in his hometown in Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland. Take a day trip to Santa’s Lapland to meet the man himself and tour the workshops where all the magic happens.

The charming village offers a full Santa experience to make your childhood fantasies come to life. You can post your wish list from Santa Claus’ main postbox, take a reindeer sleigh ride and browse the many tempting shops.

Santa Claus and a group of his Elves in the snow ©
Santa Claus and little elves ©

2. Venture out on a husky safari

Imagine gliding through pristine powder-laden landscapes, guided by a team of eager huskies. You’ll hear the sound of paws on the soft snow as you’re whisked through the dreamlike scenery.

Husky sledding allows you to head into the surreal surroundings, all while admiring the agility of these powerful animals. You’ll certainly feel a bond with your furry companions by the end of your ride.

An expert guide will teach you how to “mush” and let you take the reins if you want to drive your pack. The huskies’ enthusiasm is infectious and they’ll be keen to take you on a journey of a lifetime.

Bird's eye view of husky sledding through the snow in Kiruna, Sweden
Husky sledding through the snow in Kiruna ©Camp Ripan

3. Explore winter wonderland on a reindeer sleigh ride

Cruise through the frozen wilderness with a reindeer leading the way. Picture yourself cosied up on a wooden sleigh, covered in thick blankets, watching the snow-dusted trees pass by.

The gentle giants will slowly bring you through the glittering white forests and you’ll feel a sense of calm and peace. You’ll also learn how the local Sámi people rely on these creatures for their livelihood.

A visitor petting a friendly reindeer in the snow ©Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos
Meeting the friendly reindeer in Rovaniemi ©Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos

4. Head out on a snowmobile

If you’re seeking a little more speed and excitement, you can take a ride on a snowmobile. With endless trails across the Arctic countryside, a snowmobile ride will leave you exhilarated and in awe of nature’s beauty.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, you can safely chase thrills on a snowmobile with an expert guide.

Snowmobile gliding through a pristine white forest in Finnish Lapland ©VisitFinland
Snowmobile ride in Finnish Lapland ©VisitFinland

5. Catch a glimpse of the northern lights

In Lapland, you have the opportunity to see the mesmerising northern lights. Picture yourself surrounded by snow-kissed trees, gazing up at the night sky as the vibrant colours dance above you. Or imagine lying in bed with the glass-domed roof of your igloo offering a panoramic view of the display.

Of course, because the aurora borealis is a natural phenomenon, sightings cannot be guaranteed. But with the long winter nights and low light pollution, Lapland is one of the best places to catch sight of them.

The Northern Lights glowing above a white forest in Finnish Lapland

How long to spend in Lapland

When planning your trip, the length of your stay depends on the experience you want to have. If you’re visiting Lapland for Christmas, 4 or 5-days would allow you to fully immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere.

On the other hand, even a 3-day long weekend would give you a taste of Lapland’s winter magic. You’ll still have plenty of time to meet Father Christmas, go husky sledding and explore the glistening countryside.

You can certainly visit over Christmas Day itself for an unforgettable celebration. Fortunately, you can celebrate Christmas anytime during winter in Lapland. All of the activities are running between December and March and snow is pretty much a guarantee.

What's the weather like at this time of year

During the peak winter travel season from December to March, you’ll feel temperatures in Lapland of between -16°C (3°F) to 3°C (37°F). But it’s not uncommon for temperatures to reach as low as -30°C (-22 °F).

Although chilly, the Arctic air is dry and crisp, meaning you might not feel as cold as the weather forecast says it is.

Aside from the weather, the daylight hours are also the shortest at this time of year. However, these long nights mean you have a much better chance of seeing the northern lights.

What to wear in Lapland at Christmas

When preparing for your Lapland trip, it’s important to bring the right clothing so you can be comfortable regardless of the temperature. The weather can be changeable, so make sure you bring enough layers to choose the best outfit for each day. 

Keep reading for a general clothing packing list for Lapland:

  • Insulated and waterproof boots
  • Warm waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Warm fleece
  • Thermal base layers – long sleeve top and leggings
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Woollen socks
  • Small waterproof backpack

You can always buy a few extra items upon arrival, but of course, it’s always best to come prepared. Conveniently, thermal outerwear is usually provided for outdoor activities like snowmobiling.

Husky sledding during a purple sunset in Swedish Lapland ©Camp Ripan
Husky sledding in Swedish Lapland ©Camp Ripan

Experience Lapland at Christmas with Nordic Visitor

Why not indulge your festive dreams and create memories that will last a lifetime?

Visiting Lapland is a magical way to spend winter and experience a serene, snow-draped wonderland. Whether you are looking for a romantic escape or a family trip with the kids, there’s something to suit you.

Our travel experts make planning your ideal tour easy. Your dedicated travel expert will take care of it all, so you can relax and enjoy. You’ll also receive 24/7 support during your time in Lapland, meaning you can always contact us with any questions.

Get in touch and our experts will start planning your getaway. Soon you’ll be experiencing the magic of a Lapland Christmas holiday yourself.

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Post by: Emma Jackson

Hailing from Scotland, Emma has always pursued her love of adventure. With her trusty self-converted van, she roams Europe taking the roads less travelled to experience the natural beauty of each destination. When she’s not abroad, she fills her weekends going bouldering, cycling and hiking.

Find Emma on LinkedIn.

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Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.