#AD This Lapland feature is a collaborative post. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
Why should you visit Lapland as a family holiday destination?
Lots of families with children tend to visit Lapland at Christmas time to see Santa in his Winter Wonderland. In my pre-parent days, I went backpacking around the region and want to return with the children. Not discounting the seasonal excitement, Finnish Lapland is one of the best regions in the world to see the Northern Lights. A family holiday anywhere with snow and ice is exciting but this natural phenomenon offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience to share. Check out my tips for less stress when travelling with kids!
When should you travel to see the Northern lights?
Do your research. The Northern Lights are a winter occurrence visible between the months of September and March in Lapland. Also keep in mind that as this is peak tourist season, prices are high. Travelling with children you will also have to consider school absence/holiday procedures. The lights appear around 9 PM and stay still 3 AM. A show might last from only a couple of minutes to several hours. The further north you go into the wilderness, the better your chances of seeing the Aurora but keep in mind the sub-zero temperatures. If you don’t want to venture out into the cold with children, there are even Aurora observatories to keep sensitive young gazers cosy.
Lunar cycles, cloud cover, light pollution and solar activity also play a part in visibility. Weather is unpredictable so do consider that a longer trip will increase your chances to see the Aurora.
Here are 5 travellers’ tips for visiting Lapland with children.
As well as the usual kid related baggage, like favourite teddies and tablets – take a rucksack, hot water bottle, waterproof phone case, head torches, moisturizer and lip balm as the cold dries out your skin. Thermal clothing is a must as is multiple changes of outfit. Locals in Arctic regions recommend wearing 100% pure wool (merino) next to your body in extreme cold. Lots of hand warmers and a balaclava or two will not go amiss. Wear mittens, not gloves. Charge travel banks for phones are useful as they drop battery quickly in the low temperatures.
#Be clever in the cold.
Keep in mind that with most of the activities you will be out in the snow. So – layer up! Practically with all the extra items of clothing remember to allow extra time to get dressed. Encourage the children to walk around to keep the circulation flowing and take flasks of hot chocolate with you. Ask your hotel, or tour guide to provide you with overalls, and snow boots. Check if where you are staying has a drying cupboard. Eat well and plan in rests between excursions!
#Think about where to stay.
Do you want to stay at a popular resort, or secluded cabin? With children, access to facilities and easy transport is helpful. North there is the Aurora Village in Ivalo or the town of Levi for a popular Aurora-spotting destination. If you fancy a city break, why not try Rovaniemi. Do you want to stay at a hotel or go self-catering? Food and especially drink can be quite expensive. The choice can be overwhelming so if you’re looking to see the Aurora Borealis in 2020 consider a package deal where an expert can advise on a trip suit all tastes.
#Consider the age of your children?
Because of the nature of the excursions I think an Aurora holiday would be best suited to older kids.Most tour companies don’t recommend the trip for children under four due to the temperatures. The age of your children may also play a role in the length of your stay (as well as budget!) – trips could be three nights or a fortnight. A flight from London to Rovaniemi takes approximately 5 hours including a changeover in Helsinki.
#Plan (and potentially book) your itinerary.
There are so many excursions and guided tours with knowledgeable local guides, parents should explore what is available prior to arrival. I am torn between advising that you ensure everything is booked prior (especially in peak season) and not to book to much till you get there to see how the children manage in the low temperatures, as they may be content with short taster sessions.
What are other things to do in Lapland?
A Northern Lights break has universal appeal. Staying up late to go on a magical adventure in the Arctic darkness can make the trip of a lifetime. Realistically and from experience, there is no guarantee of seeing the Aurora even in season so make the most of travelling to Lapland, getting all that you can from the destination. Some of the daytime adventures include reindeer sledding, sledging, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and Husky driving. On the edge of the Arctic Circle sits Santa’s Village, there are ice-safaris to the Arctic Animal Wildlife Park and countless other activities. You and the children will not be bored on this adventure holiday!