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Family travel: Meeting Santa Claus

Is it too late to book a Finnish Father Christmas experience? We mull over where to go and the best time to do it

Family travel: Meeting Santa Claus

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Father Christmas lives in a lot of places. Best known is Rovaniemi in Finland, which has its own SantaPark. It’s a tad commercial, so consider the ski resort Levi or Ranua. You could even combine a stay at the SnowCastle of Kemi, which is close to Rovaniemi.

Look for a specialist tour operator. They can arrange a private meeting with Father Christmas as well as treats such as sleigh rides and husky sledding. I took the kids, then aged five and seven, to Ranua, where we met Santa in a remote hut in the forest. Operators include Inghams, Nordic Experience, Canterbury Travel and Transun.

At what age should I take the kids? Any age. Ideally while they still believe in Christmas and Santa.

It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. The closer to Christmas, the higher the price — upwards of £2,200 for a family of four, for two to three nights. Activities Abroad has three nights at Harriniva Wilderness Hotel (15-18 December), which includes a private meeting with Santa, from £1,455 for an adult and £1,125 for a child aged 4-12 years, flights included.

Is it too late? Probably, in terms of availability, but why not book ahead for 2018? There are domestic versions such as Lapland UK, in the Whitmoor Forest, Ascot, from £75 per person.

Skate at Somerset House, London

Skate at Somerset House, London

Five to try: Ice skating in the UK

Somerset House, London
This year, ice skating will be accompanied by Fortnum’s food, drink and shopping as well as a 40ft tree. Until 14 January.

Royal Pavilion, Brighton
The former royal palace has penguin skate aids for learners and a safe area for younger skaters. Until 14 January.

Manchester Ice Rink
The London Road Fire Station is transformed into a winter wonderland in the run-up to Christmas for the Winter Gathering festival.

St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
Glide around the Melville Monument on this circular ice rink. There are skating aids available — and a bar. Until 6 January.

Eden Project, Cornwall
Tie in your visit to the botanical biomes with a skating session. There are parent and toddler ice-play session as well as some for kids aged six to 12 and above. Until 18 February.

Published in the December 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)