Into the Arctic Circle: New Year in Lapland

Kayleigh Tanner with two huskies in Finnish LaplandIf you’ve read this blog for any length of time at all, you’ll know how I feel about Scandinavia. It’s my favourite part of the world for so many reasons, and I won’t bore you by going into it yet again. But I’d never been into the Arctic Circle until this New Year. Yes, it was just as magical as you might expect. And yes, I want to do this once-in-a-lifetime trip all over again. So, let’s talk about what I got up to in Lapland…

Where in the world is Kayleigh Tanner?Kayleigh Tanner in Pallas, Finland

I stayed in the snappily named Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, which really is in the middle of nowhere. But that’s exactly why I chose this spot – I didn’t fancy being in the more touristy resorts of Levi or Rovaniemi. And I made absolutely the right choice. This is a true winter wonderland – glittery pine trees arching under the weight of the fresh snow, and the tiny twinkly lights of the distant ski slopes. Properly gorgeous.

Huskies in LaplandTiny baby husky puppies

There’s nothing that make me go mental like tiny fluffy animals, so going to meet 150 huskies blew my little mind. The Finnish guide told us all about a typical day in the life of a Lappish husky, and WE GOT TO CUDDLE A HUSKY PUP. DON’T EVEN. DON’T EVEN. Then it was into a sled for an amazing ride through the Arctic forest. Now, this was a seriously bumpy ride, but utterly, utterly magical. It’s hard to believe places like this exist in the world, but I remember having a rush of adoration for the world and being able to go places as we jostled through the trees. If you ever go, you have to do this.

Jenson Button, watch your backSnowy woodland in Pallas in Finnish Lapland

Yes, that’s right – I rode a snowmobile! I didn’t actually expect to really enjoy the snowmobiling, but it turned out to be the highlight of the whole trip. They’re pretty easy to ride in all honesty – just an accelerator and a brake, and turning just means throwing your bodyweight to one side or the other. I’m generally a fast person in every aspect of life (I truly believe pavements should have fast and slow lanes), so I was in my element roaring through the Finnish woodland wilderness in the pitch black. At one point, the guides stopped us in the middle of a clearing in the trees, and we listened to the pure silence. Unfortunately we had a lot of cloud coverage the whole time we were in Finland (and a lot of fresh snow), but I like to think the Northern Lights were above us somewhere.

Olos ski resort in Finnish Lapland(Not) hitting the slopes

As I’ve said before, I’m not really built for walking around on slippery surfaces, but being so close to the ski resort Olos, I thought I should probably strap on some skis and give it a whirl. However, I didn’t trust myself on the slopes, so I was the one awkward one in my group who did cross-country skiing instead. Here’s a secret: it’s HARD! It’s really hard. I think if I’d done it for more than an hour, my thighs would still be burning now over a month on. I didn’t get much further than shuffling around awkwardly at the bottom of the slopes (well out of the way of the competent skiers, don’t worry health and safety fanatics), but there was something quite exciting about sliding for a few metres before jamming my poles in the snow to slam to a halt. And how the hell do you turn round in skis anyway? It was fun though and I’d love to try it again.

The snow gearKayleigh Tanner in a snowsuit in Lapland

We actually had it pretty easy while we were there – the coldest it got was about -10, but the weeks either side of our visit saw the mercury fall to around -28 (ouch). As a result, I was often a little bit too warm in my snowsuit (thank god it looked so gorgeous right?). Because I’m a hardnut, I pretty much just wore two layers under my snowsuit every day, along with a ridiculous hat (I hate hats), heavy duty gloves, thick thermal woollen socks and rubber snow boots (no slipping over for Kayleigh, the world’s clumsiest idiot). A word of warning: start suiting up at least 15 minutes before you need to be anywhere. You’ll be zipping and unzipping various limbs in and out of the bloody thing for quite some time on your first attempt. And a second word of warning: when you go inside, be sure to unzip the top half and wear it around your waist or you’ll roast. Those things are HOT. In both senses of the word.

Christmas light against a snowy background in LaplandWhere is the hygge?

I really don’t think I need to say this, but to clarify: the hygge is real in Lapland. All of it, all of it is so cosy and cute and beautiful. I know this is controversial, but one of the things I love about winter is the prevalent darkness, and with just a few hours of ‘grey light’ a day (the sun never broke the horizon while I was there), we were in darkness from around 2.30pm-10.30am every day. It makes everything feel especially snug, and makes you appreciate getting indoors. This is the perfect example of outdoor hygge – it’s not just about settling down for the night surrounded by candles and swaddled in a blanket. It just goes to show that you can go outside and still feel cosy, content and immersed in magic, and I am absolutely positive that I’ll be back.

Have you ever been to Lapland? Would you like to go? Let me know in the comments!

 

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Wilhelmina Margalis says:

    I have been to Lapland but in the summer… Now I really want to go in the winter!! Sounds so perfect…. I too love Scandinavia and Winter!

    1. Ah I bet it was gorgeous! I hope you manage to visit in winter 🙂

  2. I didn’t know much of anything about Lapland before I read this — now I want to go! Actually, I want to create a Hygge European Tour. So far, I would want to include England; Finland (now including Lapland); Iceland (Reykjavik); Norway; Denmark … I need expert advice!! If I were to pick ONE stop in each of these nations, what should it be? And what am I missing? This could be my Trip of a Lifetime! So you’ve really got me thinking, Kayleigh! Thanks, and keep ’em coming!

    Oh, and did I tell you, I received my own sparkly-covered copy of “Scandinavian Christmas” a couple of weeks ago, thanks to you. WOW! Who knew herring could put me in such a festive state of mind?? Honestly, the book is every bit as gorgeous and cozy and inspiring as you said. The Christmas Library Project continues!

    1. A hygge European tour sounds amazing – count me in! I’m actually off to Reykjavik tomorrow for the third time – I think I’d recommend there as first stop!

      Also I’m so happy you’re enjoying Scandinavian Christmas – isn’t it gorgeous?! I’ll make sure I mention any other hyggeligt books I find!

  3. ramblingtart says:

    I have never been there, but the history fascinates me and I’ve read a great deal. Love your pics and descriptions. 🙂

    1. Thank you! If you ever get the chance I highly recommend it – so gorgeous 🙂

  4. Sartenada says:

    Wonderful post. You visited Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. How nice! We have been hiking on its fells in summer. It is wonderful to hike among roaming reindeers!

    One example of hiking:

    North of Arctic Circle 9.

    Happy and safe travels.

    1. The reindeer are so cool! I was so excited when I saw them wandering around at the side of the road. The hiking looks amazing! Thank you 🙂

  5. Mrs Suvi says:

    Great that you had so much fun in Lapland! Good for you for trying cross country skiing 🙂 I’m a Finn but never learned to do it properly but I do love it – I’m sure I look quite funny because even 70 year old grannies overtake me easily. Welcome back to Finland soon!

    1. Haha, I was terrible! I’d really love to try it again properly though – maybe with a lesson next time! I’m sure I’ll be back very soon – your country is beautiful 🙂

  6. In an amazing coincidence of hygge, a few hours after I read this post, I popped in a rented DVD and watched the film, “Christmas Movie (Joulutarina),” the visually stunning story filmed in none other than Lapland! What are the odds??? Whoa, so gorgeous! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0772176/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_24

    1. Wow! I’m definitely going to be checking this out, thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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