A glass-domed igloo, aurora text alerts and even a Christmas wish with Santa – it’s best to leave nothing to chance when you are after an encounter with the northern lights
In Finland, fantasy can be more reliable than reality. That’s why, despite the fact that 160,000 tourists travel to Lapland every year hoping to see the elusive northern lights, the Finns have installed a dead cert: Father Christmas. Come cloud or snow, solar wind or solar silence, he’ll be on duty in Santa’s Village with a warm smile and a beard fluffier than a reindeer’s tail.
For me, Santa can wait. I touch down in Rovaniemi, 520 miles north of Helsinki, on a clear night, so there’s every chance of seeing the fabled aurora. The locals seem as used to overexcited adults as they are to children. In the Arctic Circle Wilderness Lodge at Vaattunki, my host, Marko Mustonen, levels with me in deadpan Finnish fashion: “Maybe you’ll see them. Maybe you won’t.”