We’re heading to Finland for a snowy spring break escape. Our Gay Winter Expedition begins and ends in the capital, Helsinki, but the bulk of our time will be spent exploring the vast and wild north – Lapland. Here’s ten facts to know about the iconic region.
10. It’s huge.
Lapland is to Finland what the Great White North is to Canada: an enormous, wintry, sparsely populated Arctic region. It makes up one third of the country, but only 3.6% of the population calls it home.
9. You might catch crabs.
A highlight of our Winter Expedition is the king crab safari. Board a boat, explore a ‘fjabulous’ fjord and look out for birds, seals and whales. Then we’ll trap some tasty crustaceans for lunch. Food doesn’t get any more local — or fresh — than this!
8. The cheese is squeaky.
Lapland’s iconic coagulated milk is called Leipäjuusto, but is simply known as Finnish Squeaky Cheese in North America. It can be likened to halloumi from Cyprus. The name comes from the squeaking noises it makes against your teeth as you chew. Finnish people often enjoy it with coffee.
7. The name is rather racist.
‘Lapp’ is the Scandinavian name used to describe the Sami people that have lived here for several thousand years. However this term is also considered offensive and derogatory. Some trace it back to an old German word for ‘simpleton’. Others think it’s an old Nordic word for ‘patch’, as in patchwork clothing, which they often wore. Today, if you wish to honour the Sami people, they refer to their region as Sápmi.
6. It’s full of saunas.
To be fair, saunas aren’t just popular in Lapland. More than any other country on Earth, the sauna is an intrinsic part of life in Finland. It’s estimated there are two million saunas in the country, or one for every 2.65 people. From urban apartments to country houses people love these hot wooden rooms. While we won’t visit it on our trip, there is even a sauna gondola – the only one in the world – at the Yllas ski resort.
5. It’s the place to indulge your Santaphilia.
Anybody with a Santa fetish (yes, that’s a thing) will enjoy our stop in Rovaniemi. It’s the official hometown of Santa Claus, and even home to Santa Claus village. Famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto played a major role in helping to develop this town, and even designed it to look like a reindeer head. The sports stadium is the reindder’s ‘eye’, while arterial roads form the antlers.
4. It’s not *that* cold.
Despite literally being home to Santa Claus, and its renown for wintry vibes, Lapland isn’t very chilly. When we visit, in March, the average temperature is a balmy 21°F/-6°C. You won’t be breaking out the flip-flops, but you might consider sunglasses and sunscreen for all that sun reflecting off the snow (fun fact: the sun’s reflection is called albedo, alas snow is said to have a high albedo).
3. There are more reindeer than people.
Lapland ahas slightly more reindeer than people, although none of them roam wild. All belong to herds kept by the aforementioned Sami people. If you have kids that still believe in Santa Claus, just don’t tell them that reindeer burgers are delicious.
2. You might see the Northern Lights.
Winter nights this far north can be filled with Aurora Borealis, aka The Northern Lights. Since they come alive when we’d normally be sleeping, and are not to be missed, we’ll spend a night in glass-roofed cabins that double as observatories. Lie back and let the light show inspire some colourful dreams.
1. It’s sportier than Sporty Spice.
It can feel like winter last for three seasons in Lapland, but that’s what makes it such a great place to indulge your passion for wintersports. On our trip alone you’ll enjoy a Husky dogsled ride, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, an ice swim, and a couple of saunas to warm our frigid bones after all that gallivanting.
Have we piqued your curiosity? Warm up to a frosty spring break on our Finland Winter Expedition!
Photo credits: Cover image by João Monteiro on Unsplash. Lapland map, sauna, and cheese images courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. Crab, cabin with Northern Lights, Santa,sunset, reindeer, cheese, husky safari, and images courtesy of Time Travel. Rovaniemi map c/o visitrovaniemi.fi.
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