BY TIM HEDGLEY, GROUP TRAVEL EDITOR
Imagine a world where snowflakes dance in the crisp Arctic air, where the mystical Northern Lights paint the night sky with hues of emerald and sapphire, and where reindeer roam freely amidst a breath-taking winter wonderland.
Well, that’s Lapland, where dreams come true, and Canterbury Travel is your gateway to this enchanting and very special place, the home of Santa Claus.
Nestled in the northern reaches of Europe, Lapland is a land of endless natural beauty, pristine snow-scapes, and timeless magic.
Canterbury Travel offers a range of exclusive trips that promise to be nothing short of extraordinary.
Two very lucky, Bangor children visited Santa in a special trip organised by Belfast Daily and the Northern Ireland Travel Magazine. Matthew and Sara Donegan from Bangor received a very special invitation in the post last Saturday.
To Say they were bowled over is an understatement. Explained their father, Steven: “What an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience. Our day trip to Lapland, organised by Canterbury Travel, exceeded our expectations and provided us with a magical trip we will always treasure.
A few weeks before the trip, our two children (aged 7 and 11) received a personalised special delivery in the post consisting of a red ‘search for Santa’ rucksack packed with a water bottle, Lapland diary, activity leaflet as well as a personalised letter and invite from Santa. This generated such excitement, and they realised they were travelling to Lapland and getting to meet the real Santa.
The Donegans departed Belfast International at 7.30 am on Wednesday, 13th December. Steven takes up the story: On arrival, we were greeted by an elf handing out chocolates and wishing us a merry Christmas. We moved through security and passport control seamlessly, and everything was on time.
The flight lasted just around 3 hours, but as you can imagine, the excitement of seeing Santa helped the hours whizz by. On board the Jet2.com flight, we were served a delicious, cooked breakfast and some in-flight entertainment by some young passengers.
The children were invited up to the front to tell their favourite jokes or sing their favourite Christmas songs. The Jet2.com personnel on board the plane were full of the joys of Christmas and very much contributed to making the trip an enjoyable festive experience for all.
On arrival at Enontekiö Airport, we glided through passport control extremely quickly and went straight out to the clothing hall to get our snowsuits and boots. The staff were extremely helpful and full of Christmas cheer. Everything was organised really well, and they had lots of different sizes to suit everyone.
Once we were suited and booted, we headed outside to experience the cold temperatures for the first time; it was around -13C degrees, but with the multiple layers we had on, snowsuits, ski gloves, hats and snoods the freezing temperature wasn’t an issue at all.
We jumped on a sleigh towed by a snowmobile and were taken on a fast-paced journey over the snow and through the woods until we arrived at the place where Santa was located (the journey took around 15-20min).
It was a very surreal but beautiful trip with stunning views of the snow-covered woods for as far as the eye could see. When we arrived at Santa’s village, we were greeted by some local elves who provided us with some lovely warm berry juice in a Kota in front of an open fire, and we could see the twinkling of fairy lights and lanterns in the woods ahead as if teasing us to the delights that lay ahead.
We were told by the friendly elves to follow the lanterns to the log cabin, which took us to another elf who helped us book our slot to see the elusive Santa.
As Santa was busy with all the children, we were told our slot to see him would be just over 15 minutes away, so we walked into the beautiful snow-covered village, taking in the wonderful scenery, which really did look like something out of a Christmas postcard and we paid a visit to the small souvenir shop.
We bought a couple of Christmas decorations and soft toys for the kids, which were all very reasonably priced, and we then retreated back to a log cabin where we rested in front of a blazing firepit before being informed a short time later that it was our turn to see the big man himself.
We hopped on another sleigh pulled by a snowmobile, and after a short journey, we were greeted with another open fire and friendly elf. We chatted to the elf outside and played in the snow for a bit while we waited for Santa’s elf to call us in.
The visit with Santa lasted around 15 minutes and was absolutely fantastic. Santa was extremely warm and friendly with the kids and took time to chat with them and look through their Christmas lists. The kids were in awe when he spoke. They were told they were on the nice list and were given a small, wrapped gift, which turned out to be a cuddly reindeer teddy, which both kids adored. We were able to take as many photos and videos as we liked, and the cosy setting made for some brilliant shots.
After all the excitement of Santa, it was time for some lunch in the very inviting and cosy restaurant. There were Christmas trees and decorations galore, and there were also some very friendly staff at an information desk as you walked in who were only too happy to help with any queries you had about your visit.
In terms of the food on offer, there was pasta with sauce as well as soup, potatoes, and vegetables. There was also tea, coffee, hot chocolate and juice, homemade crepes with cream, and a strawberry compote. Everything was delicious and you could have as much as you wanted.
Now it was time for some of the activities! One particularly helpful and friendly elf, Trixie, advised us to start with the Husky sledge ride as it was the furthest away and the most popular activity. It was only a 5-minute walk to the Huskey rides and there was only a small queue which moved quickly. It was very dark, but small lanterns lit up the track, and the kids had a torch each so they could see the surroundings while being pulled by the dogs. It was so much fun.
Right next to the Huskey area was a large ice igloo decorated with pretty fairy lights, which looked very intriguing. Inside it was full of incredible ice sculptures carved into the walls, including a red-eyed owl (which looked particularly striking in photos) and a serpent. There were also some ice chairs (which made for another good photo opportunity) and an ice bed. There was also an elf handing out free chocolates.
Next up were the Taboggans, which were great fun. The children had lots of goes and lots of laughs as they whizzed down the slope at full speed. They were able to have as many goes as they wanted, and it was hard to get them to leave to move on to the next activity.
We quickly moved over to the snow sledges and again had lots of turns. The elves were helping push people down the slope, and lots of the parents were getting involved, too.
Then it was on to the kids snowmobiles. Whilst we were initially nervous about letting the kids on these, they were very safe. The snowmobiles were secured to a pole by a long piece of rope, which meant the kids could not lose control. Also, the staff approached us straight away when they saw us waiting and ensured the kids were equipped with helmets and assisted them in operating the snow mobiles.
Our last activity of the day was the reindeer ride, and it did not disappoint. The four of us were pulled along on a sledge by a group of reindeer who trotted happily through the snow (even allowing us to take some selfies as some of them came very close!), until we arrived back at our starting point.
After a few magical hours, it was time to get on the coach for the short journey back to the airport. We were entertained by a funny elf who chatted with everyone and played games.
Once on board the plane, we were treated to a lovely surprise with the spectacular northern lights on display. We were sitting in rows one and two, so we were able to see them through the open door at the front of the plane while people were still embarking. They then became even brighter and more visible when we took off, and everyone was taking lots of photos through their windows. The pilot even did a full 360-degree loop so everyone on the plane could look out and see the spectacular display of colour.
After a long day, we landed back at Belfast International Airport at around 9.30 pm. We had a wonderful, magical trip to Lapland, and I wouldn’t just recommend the trip; I would urge you to book it and make memories that will last a lifetime.
The pure joy on the kids’ faces throughout the day was priceless, and we were particularly impressed with how professional everything was. If you’ve ever considered going, just do it; you won’t regret it.
Prices start at £2,708 for a family of four for a full day in Lapland, including flights, all meals and a range of snowy activities, including husky sledge rides, reindeer sleighs, snowmobiling, plenty of fun with Santa’s elves, a private family meeting with Father Christmas himself and gifts for the children.
Cosy thermal suits and boots are supplied free of charge, there’s a sleigh transport from the airport on arrival, and there’s even time for a bit of old-fashioned tobogganing.
Book via Canterbury Travel – canterburytravel.com – or by phone on 0800 2700150; voted best family travel company in last year’s British Travel Awards.
Holiday Overview & Itinerary
Experience this stunning Lapland day trip. Enjoy an exciting sleigh transfer from the airport to a beautiful location in the Lappish countryside before visiting a snow igloo and participating in a variety of traditional Arctic activities. Your magical day in Lapland lasts around 6 hours and includes a private family meeting with the big man – Santa!
Have fun on the slopes and try one of the traditional Stiga toboggans.
- Husky Sled Rides
Hang on and shout “mush” as your Arctic guide takes you on an exciting sleigh ride.
- The Ice Igloo
Relax and view the ice sculptures, enjoy hot berry juice & take a selfie to show your friends.
- A Gift from Santa
Santa gives your child their most special present
- Return Charter Flights Chartered with Jet2
Direct flights with in-flight meals and hand luggage allowance.
- Return Coach Transfer to the Airport
- Snow Suits & Boots
Cosy thermal suits and boots are supplied free of charge.
- 100% ATOL Protected for Your Peace of Mind
- Reindeer Sleigh Rides
Snuggle up as your Sami guide leads you on a magical reindeer sleigh ride.
- Adult & Junior Snowmobiling
Fun and excitement for all ages.
- Private Family Meeting with Santa
Your family’s private time with Father Christmas.
- Fully Inclusive Itinerary
All the listed activities are included as standard. There are no hidden extras and no unexpected “upsells”.
- Hot Lunch
A chance to warm up and refuel for the afternoon’s activities!
- Sleigh Transfer from the Airport
This snowmobile sleigh ride is the most magical way to arrive in Lapland. Weather permitting.
- Souvenir Certificate
“What an amazing day. The whole experience was more than we expected and so enjoyable. You truly brought the magic of Christmas to life, even us grown-ups felt like children. The surroundings, your crew, the experiences we could try as many times as we liked, no schedule and all very relaxed and inclusive. Meeting Santa was amazing!”