The townhall was designed by Aalvar Aalto. It is part of a compleks of three buildings. In the meeting room of the members there is a very interresting piece of art against the wall. A lot of coats to remind the members what coat they were wearing when they were elected to the council
Lumberjack Candle Bridge
The Lumberjack Candle (Jätkänkynttilä) Bridge, built in 1989, has become a symbol of Rovaniemi. It gets its name from the two high pylons in its centre, which are formed like lumberjacks' candles (wooden logs cut in half). They are lit up when it gets dark... which never happened during our stay because it was early July and the time of the "Midnight Sun."
The bridge goes over the Kemi River and connects "downtown" Rovaniemi to the Ounasvaara outdoor recreation area. It can be crossed on foot, and there are hiking trails along the Kemi River on either side of the bridge. The importance of lumberjacks is further highlighted by the massive bronze lumberjack statue on the west side of the Lumberjack Candle Bridge.
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The Arktikum museum is a one-stop cultural centre for all things Arctic. The many detailed exhibitions take a long time to explore, so much so that it can be daunting for children and people with short attention spans. Nevertheless, it is the perfect antidote for a Santa Claus/Christmas overload!
Aside from the exhibits, the Arktikum's highlight is definitely its long glass corridor with its views on the river behind the building. There is also a cafe where you can stop and eat, and a gift shop where you can trust the souvenirs to be of a certain quality.
The Arktikum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in summer and winter, but is closed on Monday during spring and fall.
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Santa Claus Village
Rovaniemi and its surroundings have much more to offer than the Santa Claus story, but if you must visit one Santa-related attraction in the area, make it Santa Claus Village. Even though it is extremely commercial, it made me feel less noxious (and cost me less) than the nearby Santa Park.
Despite the record-setting heat at the time of our visit (32 degrees in Rovaniemi, who would have thought?), we quickly got into the holiday spirit. First, we got to meet the REAL Santa Claus. How do we know? He simply had an aura about him. The man wore a recognizable long beard, but instead of being fat as he is often pictured in North America, he simply cast an imposing figure. I still remember his huge hands. His clothes were closer to a traditional Sami outfit than the red-and-white we are used to in North America. He also seemed more wise than jolly, and spoke a few words of French upon seeing our little one's Montreal Canadiens hockey team t-shirt. Well done, Santa! Now, the picture taken of us with Santa Claus was expensive, but we didn't have to buy it and, if we hadn't, our encounter with him would have cost us nothing.
Then, at the Santa Claus post office, we wrote Christmas cards to some of our friends and relatives 5½ months in advance. The post office offers a special service where you can mail cards at any time of the year and have them delivered just in time for Christmas. Needless to say, the cards were a nice surprise for people back home the following December.
Finally, we visited the Christmas Exhibition, which explains some of the Christmas traditions from around the world. I went there because my girlfriend really wanted me to, but it wound up being more interesting than I had expected. On the premises, you will also find the "Roosevelt Cottage," which was built for Eleanor Roosevelt whose visit in 1950 is considered to have spearheaded the tourism industry in this part of Finland.
For my part, I especially enjoyed the gimmicky attractions such as the Arctic Circle line traced on the ground outside, as well as getting my passport stamped with the Arctic circle seal inside. I can't speak much for the shops, since I don't like shopping. Perhaps not visiting them is what kept my enthusiasm strong amid this admittedly cheesy attraction?
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Meet Mr. Claus!!!
You might know this feeling: even before you actually visit a place, you are looking for the right VT category in your head and might even start writing your tip..... Well, at least that was what I did about going to Santa Claus Village and meeting Santa in person! I was going to put it down as a Tourist Trap tip and write about how kitschy all this is and how they try to rip you off and stuff....
But hey, wait!!! I have been there and here is my tip. (And have you noticed? It is a THING TO DO tip!!!) This is such a cute piece of magic that both my husband and I enjoyed tremendously! And I do hope, you will, too!
Go to Santa Claus Village and then proceed to Santa Claus Office (not Post office as in my picture). Elves will greet you and tell you that Santa is there. Then you step through this door and start walking down a dark corridor. Not dark, lights, ice, glowing coal, music, a pendulum, a sleigh, pressies and then...... another door! Heartbeats! And there he is: Santa Claus in person! An impressive, kind and handsome man! Inviting you to sit down next to him! He speaks many languages (since he gets around, as he told my friend....). We talked a bit and then a "Photo Elf" took a picture of us with Santa Claus and as we left the room, another elf showed the picture to us and asked us if we wanted to purchase it! You do not have to, but in my case it was the initial reason, why I took hubby there! And boy, do we cherish this photo!!!
Magic at its best - if you like to discover the child in yourself!
Crossing the Arctic Circle
Now this tip might belong here just as much as in the Tourist Trap section, but since money is not necessarily involved, I put it up as a thing to do!
You find the Arctic Circle line is drawn right across Santa Claus village and you have all the chances you need to have your picture taken by friends or helpful strangers!
If you walk into the Arctic Circle Office (which lies north of the Arctic Circle) you can purchase a certificate at a relatively reasonable cost, stating that you have crossed the Arctic Circle on this very day!
And here is the section that might make this tip a "tourist trap" tip: due to the ecliptic the Arctic Circle has moved 160 m north already - but hey, let's not spoil the fun!!!
We had planned to visit the Arktikum, but unfortunately we were there on a Monday, so it was closed. From their website this museum looks sooooooooo interesting and since there is not too much sightseeing to do in Rovaniemi, this is a fabulous option. You can learn all about the Arctic, about flora and fauna, climate change, northern lights and much more!
Tickets were quite pricey (12 €/adult, 8 € student/pensioner/unemployed, 27 € family ticket), but I guess it is well worth it!
The official Napapiiri crossing
Make sure you go to the official Arctic Circle ("Napapiiri") crossing while you're in Rovaniemi, Finland. All you need to do is to take a look at it to realise how far you are away from home..
The official line is just behind Santa's Official Village.
Arctic Circle Husky Park
Discover huskies and experience a husky dog team ride. Trips of varying lengths from 600 metres to an approximately 35 km daytrip. In the summer the park has a husky circus. Open during the winter and summer seasons.
Arctic Centre - Arktikum
Arktikum has 3 functions: it's a research center of arctic nature and culture, it's a museum of Lapland and also a museum of arctic nature/culture. For some people the word "museum" sounds dull. Well, Arktikum isn't.
The building itself is something to see! It's a sort of a glass tube, and it's really cool!! All the exhibition areas are underground, but there's a lot of natural light in the hall.
The museum has exhibition of Lapland and arctic areas, and there are many interesting objects, interactive places, things to inspect yourself, buttons to push (nice for kids :P) and other stuff. There's a multimedia theather where they show short movies about reindeer, northern lights and many other things (depends on the season). Arktikum is a very interesting place, and all the exhibitions are in Finnish, English, French, German and if I remember right, also maybe two other languages...
Outside Arktikum there's a garden of arctic plants, which is very interesting in it's bare beauty. Inside the building there's a restaurant (expencive, though) and a souvenir shop. The museum is not a huge museum, so it takes something like between 2 and 5 hours to get familiar with it. I think that's good: you don't get bored and you have enough time to see everything you want to! Arktikum is beautiful to watch from the outside, interesting from the inside.
Meeting Santa Claus in Person
Though this sounds cheesy as hell, try to visit Santa Claus if you're in Rovaniemi (Finland). It's an experience that's hard to forget, never mind if you're a child or a big adult like myself!
Now just before I went on a Finnish safari, I went to check out Mr Claus in the morning. I was excited as hell and definitely expecting to meet him in a homey cottage. Well, the cottage was homey alright but contrary to popular belief, Santa Claus was pretty high tech. He had an office, a whole group of administrative staff (not just elves) and some pretty high tech HP equipment to take a digital shot of you when you're sitting with him.Despite all this, it didn't dampen my excitement meeting him just one bit. Neither did it put off a big group of German businessmen who were visibly exicited - they were humming jingle bells and thinking aloud what to say to Santa when they met him! It was a very funny sight since they were clearly in their late 30's, moustashioed, in ties and heavy trench coats..
Santa Claus' Village
Even some might say that this is a huge tourist trap, after visiting at North Pole's Santa Home in Alaska, I will disagree.
Santa Claus' Village at Rovaniemi Finland is very well done and designed amusment park for every tourist visiting in Lapland. The best place it might be for families.
There is so much to do, from Santa Park to Santa's Post Office. There elves and Santa itself answer the letters that children send all over form world. And believe me, it is really true. I have been worked in Post Central of Northenr Finland and we received hundreds of letter to Santa every day all aorund the year.
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Santa Claus Village
Santa Claus Village it's the best reason to go there. You may find Santa Claus there and all the magical world around it. The raindeers, his house, etc. Santa Park is more commercial place, cave on this case. If you have time, make a safari. There are several companies there that have organized safaris, winter or summer time.If you enjoy ski, Ounasvaara could be an option. It's almost in town, 5 minutes from the centre. You may reach Santa Claus Village by taxi ( around 10 euros) or by bus. From Santa Claus village to Santa Park you may take the same bus ( with the same tickets) or take a taxi ( around 6 Euros). In town you may visit the city musuem, the Arktikum. Check www.santapark.com + www.santaclausvillage.info + www.arcticsafaris.fi + /www.erasetti.fi +www.ounasvaara.net
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Dog team rides
Husky farm with approximately 120 friendly Siberian and Alaskan huskies. The husky farm specializes in short husly ride programs for incentive and other groups. Long husky safaris only by arrangement! You should try once in a lifetime! They are different and real fun!!!
Arktikum - cultural & natural heritage on display
The arktikum is a quite spectacular building on the edge of Rovaniemi. Its not super easy to get to without a car, but it isn't a long walk from town and is well worth the effort. It is also pretty expensive: 12 euros entry fee, but you will get a fascinating insight into the lives of the laplanders and the natural features of the area.
So what is it? The Arktikum is a science centre and museum. You get to explore Finnish Lapland’s history and modern day - as you wander you will get to see the way that Laplanders lived in ancient times and see some of the traditions and clothing that continue on to today - I got to see a temporary exhibition on the Romany of Finland which was amazing and including sound tracks of singing.
The Arctic exhibition gives you a real feeling for nature in the North as you walk around seeing and hearing the sounds and sights of the arctic circle and reading about the country and wildlife of the area.
There is also a cool exhibition on Sámi culture, with its costumes and languages, religious beliefs and customs.
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