Winter Wonderland in Lapland

Has the recent cold snap that’s swept across the UK given you a taste for real snow? Are you thinking of packing your thermals and heading up north, deep into the Arctic Circle to Lapland? This blog will explore the magic of the ultimate family winter wonderland holiday and what it is like spending a night in a hotel made entirely from ice.

Facts:
Lapland is not a country but an area larger than the UK which covers the northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. When you think of Lapland your mind conjures up images of snow clad forests, cosy log cabins, reindeer and the infamous Santa Claus! One of the region’s main attractions is the permanent crisp white snow between the months of October to April, with the coldest months being January and February where temperatures can drop to as low as -35˚. Lapland is so far north that for the last two weeks of the year, the sun hardly rises compared to the summer when the hours of daylight increases to the point when it doesn’t get dark- this is known as the midnight sun.

Sleeping on ice:
Situated 200km above the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland, the Icehotel is built each year in November from frozen blocks of ice borrowed from the Torne River which runs behind the structure in the small town of Jukkasjärvi. Approximately 3000 tonnes of clear ice is stored on site in a giant freezer ready to build the next years Icehotel.

Inside the structure there are around 80 rooms containing different ice sculptures and designs for those daring enough to spend a night there. Even the beds are made of ice covered with reindeer hides, but don’t worry you are given a thermal sleeping bag for the night! The Icehotel is also home to the famous original Absolut Icebar, where you can sip your drink out of an ice glass made from ice straight from the Torne River. (The concept of the Absolut Icebar has spread around the world, with bars as far afield as Tokyo!)

The temperature inside is kept at a cool -8˚ so there’s no chance of the structure melting until mid April when the climate starts to get warmer and the ice gradually melts back into the river.See the Icehotel being built on this live webcam.

Activities:
Lapland is the place to go for fun snow filled activities including cross country skiing, snowmobiling, reindeer sledging and mushing your own team of husky dogs. If you do decide to brave the cold, remember to wear plenty of warm layers – you’ll need some waterproof gloves and at least 2 pairs of thick socks under your boots. If outdoor activities are not for you, why not relax with a mug of warm lingonberry juice in one of the many spas and saunas Scandanavia is famous for! As with all activities you participate in abroad, make sure you and your family have the right travel insurance cover in place before you go!

Clothing:
Please do not underestimate the cold weather in Lapland. Make sure you pack thick winter woollens, scarves, ski gloves, thermal underwear, hats and extra pairs of socks in your suitcase. A number of thin layers are preferable to one large layer of clothing as they will prevent your body heat from escaping too quickly. You will also need to wear warm, sturdy footwear like skiwear or moonboots- you’ll be surprised at how cold your feet get standing around in the snow! Other useful items to protect yourself and your family against the cold Arctic weather are non water based lip salve and hot pads which insert into your gloves and boots. Please take care in protecting young children and infants who are particularly vulnerable to the cold.

Northern Lights:
In the right weather conditions it is possible to catch a glimpse of the natural phenomena that is the Aurora Borealis most commonly known as the Northern Lights. These fluttering bright lights can be observed in the sky over the northernmost parts of the world. The best viewing areas in Sweden are above the Arctic Circle between the months of September and March. As the phenomenon is caused by energy from the Sun carried towards Earth on the solar winds, its appearance cannot be guaranteed!*

*Source- Swedish Tourist board

Don’t forget your travel insurance!
It’s easy to forget in all the excitement of booking your winter wonderland holiday, the importance of taking out travel insurance – even if you have the European Health insurance Card (EHIC).

You can purchase great value travel insurance direct at 24/7 travel insurance by visiting their website at: http://www.247travelinsurance.co.uk/. For a week’s family holiday in Europe, it will cost you only £14.00* – a small price to pay so you can enjoy your Lapland holiday all the more!

*Premium £14.00 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on a family comprising of 2 adults aged under 55 and 2 children under 18 taking out a “Standard” family Single-trip 24/7 travel insurance policy for 7 days in Europe excluding personal possessions cover and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (January 2009) and are subject to change.