Santa Claus Village

Although quite far out of Helsinki many people choose to take an excursion out of the city to visit Santa's Village which is a popular daytrip encouraged by daily flights and trains to Rovaniemi where it is located. It's Christmas every day of the year in the rather commercialised (but quaint) 'Santa's secret hideaway' in Lapland, northern Finland, where the redoubtable Mr Claus spends his time preparing gifts for the world's children, and meeting and greeting an estimated 500,000 delighted visitors a year. Co-incidentally the valley inside the Arctic Circle where Santa's Village is set is shaped like an ear, so, it is said, Santa can listen to all the children of the world. At the village all sorts of activities are on offer at Santa's office, the reindeer park and the Santa Park theme park, and of course you can use Santa's personal post office to mail a letter or card home with the coveted postmark. The highlight of any visit, though, is of course meeting the great man himself, and whispering your wishes into his friendly ear. There are beautiful Christmas decorations on sale here as well and plenty of opportunities for present shopping. Santa's Village and Santa Park are located just a mile from the international airport of Rovaniemi (capital of Lapland), and is also accessible by bus or train from Helsinki.

E-mail: aija@arcticcircle-information.fi

Website: www.santaclausvillage.info

Telephone: Village: (0)16 356 2096; SantaPark: (0)16 333 0000

Opening times: Village Open daily: 1 June to 31 August 9am to 6pm; 1 December to 9 January 9am to 7pm; 1 September to 30 November, and 10 January to 31 May 10am to 5pm. SantaPark: open 24 November till 13 January 10am to 6pm. Public holidays have reduced hours - check the website for details.

Admission: SantaPark: €20 (adults), €15 (children)