You can visit his twinkly grotto 365 days a year at the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, just five miles south of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland — and a 3.5-hour direct flight from the UK. The resort runs an Elf Academy, welcoming ‘little helpers’ and offering reindeer-driven sleigh rides. It’s also home to Santa Park, which features an ice-sculpture gallery and elfin workshops making gingerbread. If you want to venture out of town, there’s husky sledding and aurora-chasing.
Finnish Lapland has other bases for December Santa breaks. Among them are Suomo, in the Ruka Valley, the ski resorts of Levi and Ylläs, and Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, a Sami heartland in the region’s north west. It’s also possible to visit Santa in Arctic Sweden; most package trips go to Kiruna and tend to be a bit pricier than those in Finland.
It’s easy to arrange an independent trip to Rovaniemi, but if you’re heading elsewhere it’s often cheaper and simpler to book a package. Check exactly what’s included, as some activities are optional. Most operators include cold-weather gear, so you can pack light. You might also need specific winter travel insurance to cover activities such as snowmobiling and dog sledding.
Typically, a three-night, all-inclusive package in December with flights, transfers, accommodation, meals, a private session with Santa and daily snow activities will cost around £1,500 per person. Travel companies usually only offer a 10% discount for child places. If booked separately, flights can cost as much as £300 one way in December.
Plan up to a year in advance, as popular trips and Christmas dates get booked up in a flash. You’ll snag better deals on flights by booking early, too. Most trips only run in December, when the flakes fall and Northern Lights shimmer. Allow three or four nights and think of Santa as the springboard to an active trip in the Arctic.
The extreme cold — daytime temperatures can dip as low as -25C in December — can be tiring for tots. And most activities, such as dog sledding and reindeer sleigh rides, for instance, are off limits to under-threes. Other activities, like snowmobiling, may be unsuitable for under-eights, so check the small print.
1. Levi, Finland
Levi’s high fells and snow-frosted forests are your base for this three-night escapade with Inghams. You’ll get to meet Santa, visit the elf hideaway and make gingerbread. There’s a choice of accommodation — upgrade for a cosy log cabin or lodge — while activities such as dog sledding, reindeer sleigh rides and snowmobiling are extras. Prices from £693 per person, including flights and self-catering accommodation.
2. Överkalix, Sweden
This three-night trip with an easy transfer from Luleå Airport includes a
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For fans of Christmas festivities, London has some of the best activities and events in the world. The iconic landmarks and streets are lit up with dazzling displays, there’s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, traditional Christmas markets offering unique gifts and seasonal treats and ice skating at beautiful venues like historic Somerset House. Here are a few suggestions if you’re visiting London this month.
I hold up a glass of rosé the colour of the setting sun. It’s summer in a glass, with fresh strawberries on the nose and ripe fruit in every fizzy sip. Vines roll into the distance, bees hum drowsily, the hills look parched. As I sit on the terrace at White Castle Vineyard in Monmouthshire on a scorching June day, it feels like I could be in the South of France. It seems to me the least Welsh of settings.
Hotelplan UK – the parent company of Explore Worldwide, Inghams, Esprit, Inntravel and Santa’s Lapland - has released its first Planet and People report, to follow on from its Climate and Biodiversity papers published early in 2023. The report, Protecting our Futures, tracks Hotelplan UK’s progress towards sustainability goals and incorporates elements of the group’s People strategy for the first time. It highlights where the group has surpassed targets – increasing investments in the planet and charity donations by more than 16% to £1.25 million, for instance - as well as addressing areas such as carbon reduction where efforts need further acceleration to meet Glasgow Declaration targets.
This spa town in the Derbyshire hills – the joint highest market town in England (a title shared with Alston in Cumbria) – has beautiful Georgian and Victorian architecture and is surrounded by the Peak District on three sides.
Served at everything from weddings to funerals, and found in bakeries and supermarkets across Sweden, layered Smörgåstårta ‘cakes’ are a celebration of the savoury. They come in all shapes and sizes and can combine pretty much anything the appetite desires – as long as you include some spreadable elements. Fish pâté, horse radish, crème fraîche and cream cheese are favourites, which are layered with everything from avocado and smoked fish, to cooked prawns and ham — with such classic Scandi garnishes as radish, dill and cucumber as fresh decorative flourishes. Grab your mandolin and get creative.
Edinburgh is like a scene from a storybook, its spiky turrets, soaring towers, grand squares and cobbled streets every inch the sort of places dragons and princesses would inhabit — not to mention, of course, one particularly famous boy wizard. The city was J K Rowling’s home while she wrote most of the Harry Potter books, and it’s not hard to see the spark of inspiration for her world of magic. Kids’ imaginations have been known to run away with them as they wander the higgledy-piggledy medieval streets of the Old Town up to Edinburgh Castle or march through regal Holyrood Park to the extinct volcano hilltop of Arthur’s Seat, which towers above elegant Georgian streets in the east of the city centre.
Guests can experience merry moments as EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth jingles back to Walt Disney World® Resort till Dec. 30, 2023. This celebration of global holidays comes to life with immersive experiences throughout World Showcase and beyond, as guests savor international cuisine, enjoy live entertainment and engage in family-friendly activities, while enjoying the beauty of holiday traditions from around the world.
By far the favourite European ski destination, France consistently welcomes around a third of British skiers who are drawn by the convenience of a winter sports break in our near-neighbour country. Along with offering good no-fly travel options, skiers have a huge choice of wide-open slopes, lifts zigzagging across dramatic mountains and modern accommodation.
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