ALL OF THE ACTIVITIES AND SERVICES LISTED BELOW ARE INCLUDED IN THE HOLIDAY PRICE
- Flights: return flights from London Heathrow to Ivalo (via Helsinki) (flight routes subject to change)
- Transfers: return airport transfers
- Accommodation: 7 nights in Holiday Village Valle Hotel (double/twin rooms or winter cabins)
- Meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners (including a traditional dinner in Lappish Kota)
- Activities: cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, husky safari, reindeer sleigh ride, traditional Christmas dinner, Northern Lights walk, 2 x Northern Lights by snowmobile-pulled sleigh and Northern Lights snowshoeing (the order of activities is subject to change)
- Cold weather clothing provided for the duration of the trip
- Fully qualified guides and instructors during activities
You wouldn’t describe Utsjoki as a winter wonderland; the terrain is far too wild to be associated with such Dickensian notes of Christmas. Utsjoki is actually the most northerly municipality in Finland and if you cross the bridge to the north of the village which crosses the Teno River (famous in salmon fishing circles) you’ll find yourself in Norway. It might best be described as “out-of-the-way” so what better place to escape the commerciality of Christmas?
So, rather than battling through the crowds in search of those last minute presents how about chasing the Northern Lights amidst the rolling fells of Northern Finland? Instead of stressing over the Christmas dinner timings (don’t you hate thick cold gravy?) why not join us on a snowshoe walk into the Lappish wilderness? It is an enticing prospect, knowing that the Aurora could bring festive lights to the night sky at any time.Read more
This holiday is designed to maximise those Aurora viewing opportunities in two particular ways.
Firstly, Utsjoki’s remote location deep in the heart of Northern Lights country means that there is very little artificial light to diminish the clarity of Auroral displays. What’s more, your accommodation lies outside the town itself. The hotel and cabins enjoy a northerly aspect across the Teno River into Norway and towards some very, very dark skies.
Secondly, we’ve included four Aurora hunting activities in the company of experienced local guides. Nobody knows the terrain (and skies) better than these guys and they’ll be able to show you the very best vantage points for viewing any Auroral displays.
Nobody can ever guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights. However, this far north of the Arctic Circle, the long, dark nights, the limited light pollution and expert guides make this prime Aurora hunting territory.
We’d hate you to miss out on Christmas entirely so between all the Aurora hunting there will be a few Yuletide activities. On Christmas Eve, you can help to decorate the tree before enjoying a delicious Christmas dinner in a cosy winter setting. Imagine the potential of then witnessing a festive Aurora display as Christmas day approaches. It sure beats the Eastenders Christmas Special!
Photography by K P Kappest
Upon arrival into Ivalo, you will be greeted at the airport and transferred to Utsjoki which will take approximately two hours. It’s a fascinating journey and we suggest that you try counting the number of vehicles that pass you on the road. Chances are that you’ll see more reindeer than cars!
After dinner, you may wish to take advantage of Utsjoki's remote location and minimal artificial light and venture outside, breathe in the invigoratingly fresh air and gaze up at the northern skies.Included Meals: Dinner
Reindeer Farm Visit and Northern Lights Walk
After breakfast, you will attend a welcome meeting where you will be given all of the necessary information for your trip and be provided with cold weather clothing which you keep until the end of the week.
We understand that you are trying to escape a typical Christmas but here in Northern Finland, there is no escaping reindeer. They have played a huge role in the local Sámi way of life for centuries so it is fitting that here, in the heart of Sámi country, you begin with a reindeer pulled sleigh ride.
The farm is a short walk from the hotel and after meeting your Sámi guide you will gain a fascinating insight into the culture of reindeer herding which has contributed to the Sámi people’s ability to live in the harsh environment north of the Arctic Circle.
Following this introduction, you’ll jump in the sleigh for a gently paced ride into the terrain surrounding the reindeer farm. If gliding over the winter snow on a reindeer pulled sleigh doesn’t get you into the Christmas spirit then it is very likely that you will receive a visit from three ghosts during the evening!
After the ride, you can relax and enjoy a snack and a hot beverage in your guide’s cosy and authentic Kota. Once again, he/she will regale you with tales and stories about his/her life as a herder while you enjoy the warmth of the roaring fire.
This evening the focus turns to the Aurora Borealis. The dark winter nights, lack of light pollution and location at the heart of the Aurora Zone make Utsjoki a prime location for potential displays. During your first evening, you will accompany an experienced guide along one of the walking tracks, away from the artificial light of the accommodation.
Should the Aurora appear in the starry sky, a prior introduction on how to capture the Northern Lights on camera will have prepared you for the event. Hot drinks will be served as you enjoy the silence of a winter night, north of the Arctic Circle.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing and Northern Lights in a Snowmobile-Pulled Sleigh
Following breakfast, you will join your guide for a morning of snow-filled activities. Cross-country skiing is akin to a religion in Finland and it is believed to have been a method of transport for generations of Sámi people. In fact, it is said that the oldest ski of over 500 years, was discovered just north of the Arctic Circle in the municipality of Salla.
You will be given an introduction to the art of skiing which will likely include a graceful fall or two but do not be perturbed, as everyone here at The Aurora Zone has suffered the same fate. Following this, you will then be given an introduction into snowshoeing and you can choose either this or cross-country skiing as you follow your guide on a short tour.
Whichever method you decide on, this tour of the Arctic landscapes surrounding Utsjoki will include a knowledgeable insight into the local nature and wildlife. Your local guide will show you how to read animal footprints in the snow, as it is often possible to see tracks from willow grouse, hares or reindeer. You will then learn one of the Arctic’s must-have skills, fire building, before enjoying the crackling warmth with a hot drink.
During the evening, you will have dinner at the Deatnu Restaurant which specialises in traditional Sámi dishes using locally sourced produce such as game meat, fish and reindeer. With two roaring fires, the restaurant just adds to the cosy winter setting.
This evening, the hunt for the Northern Lights continues. This part of Finland witnesses some truly captivating Northern Lights displays during the long winter months. This holiday is designed to maximise such opportunities and a snowmobile-pulled sleigh ride with a knowledgeable local guide will allow for this.
It is surreal to consider that only days ago you will have been going about your daily routine and now you are gliding over lonely winter fells in search of the ‘Temperamental Lady’. Just being out in this terrain at night is exciting but to witness the Aurora from the summit of a sacred fell is simply beyond description.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Huskies and Christmas Eve Festivities
Your Christmas Eve will begin with a visit to the husky farm in Tana. This farm actually lies on the Norwegian side of the River Teno, so you will be spending your morning in Norway.
Dog sledding has become extremely popular here in Lapland and the distant barks of the dogs as you approach are only a taste of the eagerness and excitement which you will witness on arrival. These dogs live for adventure and your arrival means that they are going for a run.
What with all these energised and eager canines literally straining at the leash canine it can get pretty noisy prior to departure. You need to listen carefully as your musher guide gives you a thorough briefing before helping you to get to grips with the sleigh.
There is always a slight sense of nervousness as you wait for your dogs to be untethered and once they are, the pace can be pretty hectic initially. Our advice is to keep your foot on the brake at the start but your team will very swiftly calm down and settle into a more relaxed running pace. After that, everything else falls into place as you glide across the winter landscapes to the gentle pattering of paws and the swish-swish of your sled’s runners.
On your return, you will receive a picnic lunch which you can eat around a campfire while listening to stories and interesting facts about these working dogs.
We haven’t forgotten Christmas completely and once back in Utsjoki, you can get into the yuletide spirit by helping your hosts decorate the Christmas tree in preparation for the evening’s festivities.
A special Christmas meal will be served in the restaurant this evening. The Lappish setting and the cosy atmosphere of roaring fires and the convivial conversation are very much a reminder of Christmas before the introduction of smart phones and tablets.
Who knows, you may even witness an after-dinner Aurora which would signal the perfect ending to this festive day.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Christmas Day Leisure Time and Northern Lights by Snowshoe
Christmas Day is yours to spend at leisure and you can simply relax and take advantage of the hotel facilities. Alternatively, you can enjoy a more active day with a number of winter-based activities. Please see the 'Personalise' section for details.
During the evening, you will begin the hunt for festive Auroras via snowshoe. Imagine the prospect of spending Christmas Night seeking out a captivating display. The location of Utsjoki, north of the Arctic Circle ensures that you are in the heart of the Aurora Zone with very little light pollution. It is a stunning contrast to the typical Christmas evening, which generally consists of struggling to digest excessive quantities of food whilst still doing battle with a barely depleted turkey carcass.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Boxing Day Leisure Time and Northern Lights by Snowmobile-Pulled Sleigh
Boxing Day we have left for you to spend at your leisure. There is an abundance of activities which you can add to your holiday, such as a tour of the Arctic Ocean over the Norwegian border or some winter fishing. Alternatively, you may simply want to use this opportunity to soak in the remarkable contrast of life in Lapland compared to anywhere else in the world. Leisure time is ideal for simply exploring the surroundings without any time restrictions and at your own pace. Your hosts will be happy to offer advice on nearby walking trails.
After dinner, you will venture out into the wilderness in a snowmobile-pulled sleigh. With an abundance of local knowledge at hand, your experienced guide will lead you to an area which he believes will offer the best opportunity of spotting the Aurora. Part of the thrill is in the hunt as you glide across the snow-covered landscapes looking out for any flickers of dancing colour in the night sky.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Free Day and Traditional Dinner in a Lappish Kota
Following breakfast, the day will be yours to spend at your leisure. The remote location North of the Arctic Circle ensures that there are a number of winter based activities which you can add to your holiday. Alternatively, you may just want to relax and take advantage of the peaceful atmosphere and tranquil surroundings.
A special evening awaits as you bid farewell to Lapland with a traditional Finnish dinner in a Lappish Kota. It is the perfect way to end your festive adventure particularly if the Aurora makes an appearance outside.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
You will eat by the open fire while your Sámi host regales you with stories about life in Utsjoki. If you are lucky he may also sing some 'Joiku' for you, a specific type of traditional Sámi song.
Enjoy the atmosphere of the Arctic one last time. Following breakfast, you will be transferred back to the airport with some fantastic festive memories and a completely different take on how Christmas is celebrated here in the far north of Finnish Lapland.Included Meals: Breakfast
Included in price
Personalise this tour
Scenic tour via snowmobile-pulled sled
The focus in Utsjoki is on enjoying the stunning wilderness here in the very north of Finland. This scenic snowmobile-pulled sled tour is an ideal way in which to sit back and enjoy the rugged wilderness fells. This trip is ideal for anybody looking to capture Utsjoki’s natural environment on camera.
Duration: 3 hours
Cross-country skiing is like a religion in Finland and has been a method of transport for the Sámi people for generations. It is alleged that the Sámi have used skis as transportation for almost 6000 years and one of the oldest skis was found in the nearby municipality of Salla. It is also very enjoyable and a fantastic way in which to explore the untouched wilderness.
Experience a real sense of silence as you enter a nearby forest, which opens out onto the vast landscape. You may encounter some of the local wildlife such as elk, hare and willow grouse and your knowledgeable local guide will point out any animal tracks within the snow. There will be a break for picnic snacks en-route.
Duration: 2 hours
Minimum: 2 people
In Utsjoki, ice fishing is perhaps the most popular winter activity for locals. Join an experienced guide and learn the secrets behind this popular Arctic sport. You’ll be transferred by car to a nearby frozen lake where your guide will drill holes in the ice using a special drill called ‘kaira’. Then, it’s your turn to do some work as you attempt to catch Arctic or Salmon Trout from the icy waters below. Whilst you are fishing, your guide will prepare warm drinks over a campfire.
Duration: 2-3 Hours
Image credit: Holiday Village Valle
Tour to the Arctic Ocean
You will be driven over the border into Norway towards the magnificent Varangerfjord and the small fishing village of Nesseby. A highly recommended Sámi museum lies within the village and you will visit here and gain insight into the lives of the indigenous people of the Nordic countries. The Sámi have adapted and thrived despite the harsh Arctic winters and it is fascinating to understand how they have done so.Read more about this activity
This tour will also include a visit to ‘seita’, a Sámi worship site, and there will be a picnic lunch along the way. A further stop at the colourful Sámi handicraft workshop in the village of Tana will allow you to pick up any souvenirs.
Duration: 4-5 hours
Minimum: 4 people
Snowshoeing is a fantastic and ecological way in which to explore the surrounding nature of Utsjoki. This particular trip will lead you across a beautiful wonderland towards the snow-covered forests whilst your guide gives you an insight into the surrounding nature and the diverse flora and fauna which can be found north of the Arctic Circle. You may even spot some wildlife for yourself with both moose and reindeer common in this area.
Duration: 2 Hours
Dates & Prices
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Next season’s pre-sale dates and prices
To secure your holiday for next season, you can make a pre-sale booking and fix the price of your trip at the pre-sale price displayed below. Simply by paying a deposit of £400pp, you will protect yourself from any package price increases. The departure dates and itineraries remain preliminary and we will contact you when the final dates and itineraries are confirmed, you will then have 14 days to decide if you would like to go ahead. If you decide not to travel, we will refund your full deposit payment. We reserve the right to charge supplements where there are significant changes to an itinerary or increases in flight costs. Any non-package rates remain subject to change.
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Please note: our holiday prices are based on the lowest available airline fares. These fares can sell out quickly and, as a result, prices may increase and supplements may be applicable. We recommend booking at the earliest opportunity to secure the best possible fares and flight times.
For our full booking terms and conditions please click here
We always try to provide an approximation of the group size you can expect to be with for the duration of each of our holidays. It may be that you are joined by others for parts of your holiday (such as transfers and particular activities) but the above number reflects those you can normally expect to be with from beginning to end. If group size is something which is particularly important to you, please speak to our Travel Experts and they can suggest the best holidays for you.
Tailor-made holiday group sizes will vary for all activities as will the group size for any additional activities you book.
MINIMUM NUMBERS REQUIRED FOR A HOLIDAY TO OPERATE
Some of our holidays require a minimum number of participants to operate (as listed in the ‘Group Size’ section). If your holiday departure has not yet reached the minimum number, you will be told at the time of booking. In the unlikely event that your chosen date is not guaranteed by nine weeks before your scheduled departure date, we will contact you to discuss the available options as per our booking conditions.
The order of activities is always subject to change and guests will be provided with their final itinerary upon arrival.
Please note that some of our holidays may incur a single supplement. Please speak to one of our Travel Experts who will provide you with a quotation.
Medical History and advice
We want our holidays to be accessible as they can be and will do our best to accommodate any special requests and requirements where possible. We have a wide range of holidays and destinations and so our travel experts will help find the best holiday for you.
In order to give us the best possible chance to do this, we ask that if you or any member of your party has any medical condition or disability which may affect your holiday or has any special requirements, that you tell us at the time of enquiry or booking. You must also promptly advise us if any medical condition or disability which may affect your holiday develops after your booking has been confirmed. You may need to provide a doctor’s note and proof of insurance in some cases as the health and safety of our clients is absolutely paramount.
In providing this information you are allowing us to work with our expert local partners to ensure that your whole party can enjoy the holiday. By letting us know in advance we can discreetly work with you to adapt any part of the holiday which may potentially be challenging. Being able to prepare for this in advance makes an incredible difference to what we can offer and minimises any impact on your party and the rest of the group.
Unfortunately, if you choose not to share this information with us in advance then it may limit some or all of the itinerary you have booked, and we cannot be held accountable for any additional costs or missed activities resulting from this.
Insurance is not included in your holiday, but it is a pre-requisite to travelling with us. You will need to ensure that you have cover for all the activities that you will be participating in during your holiday.
It is extremely important that you take out a suitable travel insurance policy at the time of booking. Plans do sometimes change, and you will need this policy should you need to cancel your holiday.
If you are struggling to find a suitable policy then details of our preferred provider, who will cover you for all the activities we offer, can be found on our website by clicking here. Please note that this policy is available to EU residents under the age of 75 only.
If you have a reduced level of mobility, then please contact our travel experts to discuss the suitability of this holiday in relation to your requirements.
Experience and fitness
We offer a vast choice of holidays which range from 'relaxed' to 'active' so there really is something for everyone and our holidays can be filtered by how active they are. Regardless of the chosen holiday, all activities will include tuition from a beginner's level and no prior experience is assumed.
If you are unsure about the physical demands of a particular holiday please contact us and our expert team will be happy to help.
See our booking conditions for further information.
Guides and safety
It is absolutely essential when partaking in any activity that you listen very closely to, and abide by, the instructions provided.
If there is anything that you are unsure of during a safety briefing or that you would like to clarify with the guides please make this clear to them immediately before starting the activity.
Our guides' word on activities is always final and your safety is their principal concern at all times, please respect their decisions. By following their instructions, your safety and enjoyment during each activity will be greatly enhanced.
See our booking conditions for further information.
Booking activities locally
Additional activities can be booked locally in almost all our destinations. However, as per our booking conditions, we cannot be held responsible for any injury or loss incurred through participation in activities which are booked at your destination outside of our holiday itinerary (see our ‘Terms and Conditions’ for further details).
When arranging any such activity please always ensure that safety is your primary concern. In some of our destinations, you can borrow or hire equipment for use in your free time.
You do so entirely at your own risk. You must ensure that you are properly prepared, have the necessary equipment and knowledge (maps, etc) and ensure that where applicable, you follow marked routes. We recommend discussing your plans with the local teams who will be able to advise on the most suitable options for you.
Always let the reception/guide know where you are planning to go and take a torch and mobile phone (with the hotel/guide’s phone number stored). It is also a good idea to leave your contact number and the time you expect to return to the hotel should the hotel need to contact you.
If your trip includes car hire the named driver must have a credit card registered in their name which they can present when they collect their car along with their driving licence, as a deposit will be held on the credit card. Please see your trip dossier for full details.
Our clients’ safety is at the centre of everything we do, and our operations team continually assesses and monitors the destinations we feature. We carry out thorough risk assessments and work closely with all of our suppliers to continually follow best practice. For up to date travel advice the UK government offers its Travel Aware website as well as the advice detailed below.
FLIGHT SCHEDULE CHANGES AND CONNECTING TRANSPORTATION
On your documentation, we will confirm your flight schedule. Sometimes the flight number, routing and timings might change prior to your departure. If the change is classed as a significant change then we will contact you to discuss this. Please see our booking conditions for details.
Flight schedule changes can impact on your pre and post-holiday travel arrangements if these have been booked separately to your holiday. We strongly recommend that you do not book transport (such as trains or transfers), car parking or non-connecting flights to the departure point for your holiday until you have received your final confirmed travel times when your final travel documents are issued. We are not responsible for the effect of any schedule change on your pre or post travel arrangements. We strongly recommend that you do not purchase non-flexible or non-refundable tickets to avoid cancellation and penalty charges.
BOOKING YOUR OWN FLIGHTS - CANCELLATION DISCLAIMER
If you have chosen to book your own flights, then you will need to wait until we confirm to you that the holiday departure has met the minimum numbers required to run (if applicable to your chosen holiday). Once the holiday is guaranteed to run, you will be informed and you can then make your arrangements.
If transfers are included in your holiday, please ensure that any potential flights will be met by our standard transfers (speak to one of our Travel Experts for advice) otherwise private transfer supplements may be applicable. Once your flights are booked, please send us a copy of your detailed flight itinerary.
Please be aware that most tickets are non-refundable in the case of cancellation. For this reason, we strongly advise you check the rules of the ticket and check the limitations of your cancellation insurance before booking. We cannot be held liable, in the unlikely eventuality that we should be forced to cancel or amend your trip, for losses incurred relating to any flight booking you have made.
THE FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE ADVICE
We receive all updates from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) with regards to travel advice and we always ensure that we follow this advice in our operations. The FCO issues travel advisories for countries based on a very wide range of factors. They may provide notification about things as simple as a football match and crowds, or they may go so far as to advise against all travel to a region. We ask all our clients to refer to the relevant Travel Advice by Country for the destinations they are visiting in order to make an informed decision on the safety of the destination based on the details provided. It also provides vital information regarding entry requirements, embassy information, local laws and customs as well as specific safety and health. Guests should take responsibility for keeping themselves up to date with this advice. Please also ensure that, if you are transiting through another country, you have read the advice and meet the entry requirements for that destination too.
The FCO travel advice is applicable to British Passport Holders. Most governments will issue their own travel advice for a region and, if you are not a UK resident then you can find some helpful links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
Canadian Consular Affairs Bureau http://voyage.gc.ca/
The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html
If the FCO deems that there is an unacceptable level of risk for UK citizens then, together with the government, they may issue an advisory against all travel to a region or country. If such an advisory is published, then we will act accordingly, and this may require the cancellation, curtailment or amendment of a holiday itinerary. These decisions are made on the basis of ensuring our clients’ safety and will affect all clients on the holiday, regardless of their nationality.
If one of our local experts suggests an amendment due to a situation which develops locally then we may also take the decision to amend an itinerary appropriately.
If we have to cancel your holiday prior to departure you will be offered the option of an alternative trip (where any price difference will either be refunded to or covered by you) or a full refund of the monies paid.
If we have to curtail a holiday, then you will be refunded for any costs for the elements we have been unable to deliver, where we have been able to secure a refund from our suppliers. If we must reroute a holiday, then any basis for refund is determined on a case by case basis and dependent on whether the central holiday experience was provided or not.
The minimum age for participation in our itinerary is 9 years old, however, for some activities and transfers, you may be joined by other guests and this may include some of a younger age than stated. Any younger participants will be fully supervised and the guides will ensure that their participation takes place only if the activities will be unaffected.
Very few hotels have a minimum age and there may be families staying at them with younger children, especially during the holiday periods. We do have some itineraries and destinations which are guaranteed to be adult-only, so if this is important to you please speak to one of our Travel Experts.
To drive a snowmobile, you must have a full driving licence and be over 18 years old.
Utsjoki is a wonderful retreat with a comfortable hotel and good restaurant. Amazing staff.
Family run resort. Very well run. Hope they will keep up their good work. We will be back.