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Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland, Finland’s northernmost province, and the official hometown of Santa Claus. The city was almost completely destroyed after World War II but has since made a strong comeback.
Santa is said to have opened his office in Rovaniemi in 1985. The city was officially declared his home town in 2010. Nowadays, Rovaniemi is a winter wonderland that exudes holiday cheer all year long.
This is a city that takes its ties to Santa seriously. It’s home to Santa Claus Village, a compound that straddles the line which marks the beginning of the Arctic Circle. Here, you can meet Santa Claus, give him your wishlist and send home postcards stamped with a rare Arctic Circle postmark.
Each year, the Santa Claus Village post office receives millions of letters from nearly every country in the world.
Visitors can stay in the village, renting quant cabins that come equipped with their own private saunas. For a more luxurious experience, check into the Village’s Glass Resort or the neighboring Arctic Treehouse hotel, both of which offer expansive views of aurora borealis from inside comfortably heated rooms.
The Glass Resort is a collection of high-end igloos with an outdoor jacuzzi just steps away from Santa’s office. The Arctic Treehouse is a more industrial style luxury property, but its floor-to-ceiling windows also offer travelers the chance to see the Northern Lights without having to brave cold and snow—and the city is one of the best places in the world to catch the dazzling display. In Rovaniemi, this natural phenomenon is visible on about 150 nights from mid-August through mid April.
When you’re done gawking at the Northern Lights and ready to leave your igloo, treehouse, or cabin, head to SantaPark, an indoor Christmas theme park that’s filled with plenty of activities to spike your holiday merriment. The park offers visitors the chance to commune with elves and perhaps even study to become one at Elf School. Visitors also can check out the toy factory where Santa’s elves work, decorate cookies with Mrs. Gingerbread, explore an Ice Gallery, and of course visit Santa Claus.
Several companies offer opportunities to meet reindeer and huskies, and even ride a sleigh pulled by reindeer just like Santa himself.