Luxury Lapland: How to meet Santa in style
From husky sleigh rides and tobogganing to searching for Father Christmas on a snowmobile
This Christmas, families from across the globe will head north on a quest to find Santa Claus. No, not at the North Pole, but in Finland's Lapland region.
Ever since 1927, when a radio host proclaimed to have discovered Father Christmas's hometown in the Finnish mountains, Lapland has been the de facto home of the world's most elusive gift-giver, with Christmas villages and amusement parks set up each year to celebrate the festive season.
But with cross-country skiing, pine trees and huskies, the opportunities for adventure go well beyond Christmas markets and grottos.
Here are the five best package holidays to Lapland and what activities are available if you head north this winter.
'Magical Interlude' Trip from Santa Claus Trips
This three-day excursion from the aptly named Santa Claus Trips offers a large array of inclusive activities, including everything from a husky sleigh ride to tobogganing to a "private meeting" with the big man himself.
Based in the remote village of Luosto in Pyha-Luosto National Park, the trip includes full-board accommodation, flights and connections, making it a very convenient way to hunt for Santa.
Four-Day Trip from Santa's Lapland
More than 100 miles north of Pyha-Luosto is the beautiful tourist town of Saariselka, where Santa's Lapland tour company has concocted an indulgent four-day break in the frozen north.
After the kids have helped out the elves and searched for Santa on a snowmobile, guests can take advantage of Saariselka's famed spas and saunas to unwind after a day in the snow.
Santa Short Break from Magic of Lapland
Luxury tour company Magic of Lapland crafted something quite special with its range of Santa Short Breaks. The village of Yllas, near the border with Sweden, offers guests a truly wild corner of Lapland, far from the more touristy centre of the region.
Staying true to the Finnish tradition, the tour offers Arctic log cabins for sleeping, but with a secret weapon: vibrantly glamorous interiors. With two floors and a plethora of added amenities, including a private sauna and a personal chef, guests will no doubt relish every minute in their lodgings before heading to their optional helicopter sightseeing tour.
Harriniva Santa Break from Best Served
High up in the Arctic Circle, riverside jacuzzis and a private husky farm await the intrepid travellers lucky enough to take up this offer from Best Served.
Coming with all the amenities a well-heeled Arctic explorer could wish for, the activities on the Harriniva Santa Break are wonderfully off the beaten track. Offering such rustic pastimes as Finnish cookie baking, ice-fishing, lasso lessons and a hunt for the Northern Lights, this is Finland at its most charmingly bucolic.
Extra Special Christmas Holiday from Aito
Father Christmas, reindeer and sledding keep this four-day trip firmly rooted in the festive tradition, but the experts from skiLapland have been drafted in to ensure that guests see plenty of cross-country skiing action during their stay.
This trip isn't for the fainthearted, but having the wonderful Ruka Cottage to come home to every night is more than worth it.