Legend has it that Santa Claus lives in the North Pole but in real life, Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland claims to be his official hometown. Located in the Arctic Circle, the southernmost latitude where the sun can stay below or above the horizon for 24 hours, Rovaniemi draws visitors worldwide to Santa Claus Village.
The backstory of how Rovaniemi became the official hometown of Santa Claus begins during the region’s rebuilding efforts after World War II. In 1950, Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, visited Rovaniemi and the Arctic Circle. Rovaniemi officials rushed to build a cabin eight kilometers north of the city. The cabin marked the birth of Santa Claus Village and still stands today next to Santa Claus Main Post Office.
Santa Claus Village is populated with shops, restaurants, an igloo hotel, ice bar and offers dog sledding tours, reindeer rides, and snowmobile tours.
Also while visiting, be sure and mail your Christmas cards from Santa Claus Main Post Office. Since 1985, Santa Claus has received 15 million letters from 198 countries.
Postal elves serve customers all year round in their headquarters, which is a real post office operated by Posti, Finland’s national postal service. Every letter sent from here gets a special Arctic Circle postmark not available anywhere else.
Rovaniemi during the holidays is an ideal place to view the Northern Lights on clear nights as shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet dance across the skyline of the city on view from in and around the city from mid-August until early April.
Also known as Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights are visible on around 150 nights a year in Finnish Lapland usually between 10 PM and 2 AM.
A show might last from only a couple of minutes to several hours. You can get an instant notification service Aurora Alert Realtime alerting as soon as the Auroras are visible.
On 23rd of December, before departing to deliver toys around the globe, crowds gather at Arctic Circle to send off Santa Claus in a celebration.
Santa Claus Village is open year-round and if you choose to visit during the summer months, you can experience the region’s Midnight Sun, a natural phenomenon that takes place on and above the Arctic Circle in the summer months. On the Arctic Circle, where Rovaniemi lies, the sun officially stays above the horizon for a full 24 hours on the summer solstice, 21st or 22nd June. The Midnight Sun period in Rovaniemi lasts for a month, from 6th June to 7th July.
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