Many kids dream to meet Santa Claus at least once in a lifetime. Guess what, I finally realized this dream when I was already 27 years old! It still felt amazing, and this enchanting experience really left me feeling younger at heart and soul.
Santa Claus Village is located in Rovaniemi, the capital city of Lapland, Finland’s northernmost province. To get to the village from the city, the simplest way is to take the famous Bus No. 8. You can hop on the bus from 3 stops: Railway Station, City Center, and Airport. The ticket fare is 3.90 Euros for one way, but if you buy return ticket right away, it only costs 7.20 Euros. The bus typically leaves every 1 hour, and you can see the schedule here.
I initially planned to take the bus at 10.10AM from Railway Station stop after checking out from my guesthouse at 10AM. However, I miscalculated the time needed to walk to the bus stop as there was a lot of snow in the streets and it was a bit confusing for me to see the direction, even though GoogleMaps guided me. So I ended up arriving late and had to wait for the next bus at 11.15AM. It wasn’t really a problem, but it was just… really cold to wait outdoor for more than half an hour. The temperature was -5°C that day, and my phone froze off again after a while (like, seriously), LOL! I still managed to take a selfie before getting to the bus, though:
Ah, you can also choose whether you want to hop off at Santa Claus Village or Santa Park. Santa Park in an amusement park with several attractions such as Sleigh Ride, Elf Show, and Gingerbread Kitchen. Since I didn’t have enough time to visit this park, I went straight away to Santa Claus Village and spent my afternoon there.
Thank God I could turn my phone on after getting into the warm bus, so I could start taking pictures again of all the picturesque things here! The journey took about 30 minutes. Arriving at Santa Claus Village, the first building I entered was the Santa Claus Gift House.
It was also the building where they have the Information booth, and of course the white line painted on the floor showing earth latitude and longitude coordinates where Napapiiri Arctic Circle cuts right through! This makes it one of the most popular spots in Santa Claus Village to take photos. Since I travelled alone and I didn’t have tripod or something, I just took photos of this couple:
I bought a fridge magnet in one of the souvenir shops there, and as instructed by the shop keeper, I proceeded to Santa Claus Office which was across this Santa Claus Gift House. Santa Claus Office is where you can meet Santa Claus! So the main difference between the Santa Claus you have here and all the santa guys you can meet in Christmas events all around the world is just that this one is official, as Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi is also officially registered as the hometown of this legendary old folk.
Okay, so according to Santa Claus Village’s official tourism website, Santa’s real hometown is actually Korvatunturi, which is also in Lapland. However, to keep the privacy of this secret location, Santa’s elves decided to have another place where people can still meet and greet Santa… and so Rovaniemi was chosen.
I feel silly writing the paragraph above but hey, like I already said in this blog post title, I’m playing kid for a day! So don’t judge me. Kids love this kind of story, man. Haha!
Inside Santa Claus Office, again, there are souvenir shops. You have to ignore them first and look for a big door where it says you can meet Santa inside and it’s only a few minutes away before you’ll be able to see him in person. You may note that it is free to enter this room and to meet Santa. No payment and no reservation needed. However, you will need to queue with a bunch of kids (and their parents, of course) who are definitely as excited as you are (okay, maybe more) to meet Santa!
The staff at Santa’s office entrance will greet you first and ask you where you come from. The girl who was talking to me was quite surprised to know that I am from Indonesia. I guess there are not so many Indonesians visiting Santa then, ha! She said I came from a far away place. Oh well, that’s true, speaking about hometown, my hometown is already located on the south part of the world. So yeah, Northern Europe is pretty far apart.
And so finally… I met Santa Claus!!! Oh my God, that felt so cute, hahaha… I totally felt like my inner child came out through as I approached Santa, shook his hand, and started conversing with him. He was as surprised as the girl to learn that I am from Indonesia. He asked me for how long I would be staying in Europe… and so I told him I was having a Euro Trip for 77 Days, that I have visited 18 countries in total, and that Rovaniemi was actually my last resort before flying back to Asia the very next day. Santa was so happy that I took the time to visit him before ending my trip. Well, I was as glad as he was, to be honest!
The meet and greet was so short, though, I believe it was just 1 minute in total, including the photo session. Some photographer took 2 photos of me and Santa, and there was also a videographer who recorded my conversation with him. I said goodbye to Santa and left his office, proceeded to another queue to get my photos and video.
Now you have to know that even though it’s 100% free to meet Santa, it is not free if you want to take your photos and video home. Of course, you can always leave without the photos and the video if you don’t want to make any purchase here, but for me, I told myself, “Why not?” It was also because it was my 76th day of the whole trip, so I decided to just spend my remaining budget and go for it!
I had 3 options: 30 Euros to have 1 photo printed in big size, 35 Euros to have 5 photos (from 1 same shot) printed in postcard size, or 40 Euros to have both of the 2 shots taken and the video in digital format. I chose the last one cause I wanted to have the video! And anyway, it’s nicer to have the digital files of the photo cause I want to upload them here and on my social media accounts.
So I took the receipt and went to the cashier to pay. The cashier gave me the payment receipt and also a paper with some instruction written on it. It’s the instruction on how to download the files from Santa Claus Office official website with my personal code that has been generated from my payment. My files are restored and available to download for the next one year.
Leaving Santa Claus Office, I wandered around the area and took more photos:
Too bad I could only stay for about 2 hours in Santa Claus Village, cause I had to catch bus no. 8 again at 2.05PM to go back to the Railway Station, as I had a train booked for 3.20PM to go back to Helsinki.
If you’re interested to visit Santa Claus Village, I would recommend you to spare a day as there are actually a lot of things you can do there. Here is the map of Santa Claus Village from its official website:
Some of the activities you can do are: sending postcards to your friends and family from Santa Claus Main Post Office, visiting Arctic Circle Husky Park to see adorable Finnish huskies, and not to forget – having fun at Santa Park, too.
As you can see from the image above, there is a “Summer” button on the right bottom, where in the website you can click it to see the Summer Map. Well there you go! You can also go there during summer, or in any other season, cause Santa Claus Village is open all year long! I believe in the summer you’ll even get the chance to see Santa in short pants. Another great thing about going far north during summer is that you’ll be able to see the fascinating midnight sun. Oh dear, I really want to see it as well someday!
In my next post, I’ll be telling you about my experience chasing Aurora Borealis, and I’ll also be reviewing my guesthouse (Guesthouse Borealis) in Rovaniemi and VR InterCity train that I took to go back and forth between Helsinki and Rovaniemi during my trip. If you’re interested to follow my adventures, don’t forget to subscribe my blog and feel free to leave any comments here! Kiitos*!
*Kiitos = Thank you (in Finnish)