Why Lapland in Finland is the ultimate white winter Christmas experience

The moon may already be out in in northern Finland, but there's still light enough in the darkness to capture the Northern Lights as they gallop across the late Lapland sky. The Finns say Aurora Borealis is "dancing" and they should know, as these are a people who find supreme pleasure in Mother Nature and the finer things in life.

Finnish winters are infamous for their short days and long dark nights when the sun makes an early curtain call under a thick blanket, refusing to make an encore until those famed summers of the Midnight Sun.

The Finns are not only among the happiest people on the planet, but also boast one of the best standards of living in the world. And this luxe lifestyle is evident everywhere.

The 'Lap' of luxury

For a taste of Lappish luxury, head to Beana Lapponia Wilderness Boutique Hotel, in Meltaus, about an hour north of Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi.

This adults-only accommodation boasts 11 glamorous hunting-lodge style rooms. The interior is Nordic noir, with cackling fires and plump couches, steaming saunas and gurgling hot tubs, reindeers hides on the wall, reindeer meat crafted into hearty dishes, and cheeky house elves perched in room corners.

Outside, fresh snow crunches underfoot and the pine trees are sprinkled white, making it picture perfect for sleigh rides, husky sleds, snowshoes and toboggans.

A dog's life

This working husky farm, which breeds 18 Alaskan huskies for long-distance 1000km races across Scandinavia, takes guests on husky safaris through across the frozen landscape.

Other activities at Beana Lapponia include a visit to a nearby reindeer farm where guests can feed them lichen before learning how to drive a reindeer sleigh or partake in a traditional Lappish ceremony in a tepee-like structure.

Back in Rovaniemi, Santa and his infamous pets are big business with Lapland boasting more reindeer than people.


Where myth meets reality

Tourism officials take the concept of Santa Claus seriously here, and claim it is the only place on the planet he actually exists.

Don't believe them? Head to Santa Claus Village for a meeting for the big bearded bloke yourself and have your Christmas cards stamped with an official North Pole stamp before retreating to your luxury accommodation, Santa Igloos Arctic Circle, of course.

Constructed from timber on one side and wall-to-ceiling glass on the other, sleep in one of 71 glass igloos and watch the snow fall lazily onto your roof. If you're lucky, you may even see the Northern Lights from the comfort of your bed.

A short drive away and for some Nordic and nice dining, head to the Arctic Treehouse Hotel, where Rakas Restaurant specialises in local produce. Yes, in Lapland, you can ride your reindeer and eat it too.

The capital of Christmas

The Finnish capital of Helsinki is a one-hour flight from Rovaniemi and one of the best beds in town can be found in the "design district" at Hotel Lilla Roberts.

Splashed with art-deco decadence, this 130-room hotel harks back to the 1930s with a dash of Finnish flair.

And just around the corner, for delectable dining, head to Jurri Restaurant. Meaning "the root or heart" Jurri embraces local produce such as salmon and berries and even has its own craft brewery serving three different drops.

For a true taste of a fine Finnish Christmas, make your way to the Old Market Hall, which dates back to 1888, and sample the kinds of foods which are served on a Finns festive table, such as herring, pork legs and salmon.

Fetch your Christmas cakes at the capital's sixth-generation Ekberg bakery; your department store gifts at Stockmann; and designer brands along the Kamppi shopping mall.

The Finns call Santa "Joulupukki" and if there's one thing of which they are certain, the big guy is on his way.

The writer was a guest of 50 Degrees North.