Welcome to Rovaniemi, the Official Hometown of Santa Claus
Rovaniemi, the hometown of Santa Claus, is situated on the Arctic Circle at the heart of the Barents region, in Finnish Lapland. Known as the capital of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi offers a unique combination of peaceful nature, Nordic culture and urban activity.
Rovaniemi is the provincial centre of Lapland, situated at the meeting point of the rivers Kemi and Ounas, on the Arctic Circle. A university town and a popular destination for tourists, Rovaniemi is the commercial, administrative, educational, cultural and sports centre of the region.
Located at the confluence of two large rivers, the most important transport routes at the time, Rovaniemi began to adopt the role of the “gateway to Lapland”. The history of the Rovaniemi region stretches back some 8000 years. For thousands of years Rovaniemi was just a stopping place for hunters, fishermen and
trademen who exported furs and other items from north to south. Rovaniemi was permanently settled in the 11th to 12th centuries. At the turn of the 19th century Rovaniemi began to grow in the administrative, cultural and commercial centre of the Province of Lapland. The modern look of the Rovaniemi is mainly due to the Second World War. During the war, Rovaniemi was destroyed, only a few houses remained in the centre. The reconstruction work was started in 1946 according the town plan designed by the most famous Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto.
The word Rovaniemi has often been considered to be of Lappish origin, as “roavve” in Saami denotes a forested ridge or hill or the site of an old forest fire. In the dialects of southern Lapland, however, “rova” means a heap of stones, a rock or group of rocks in a stretch of rapids, or even a sauna stove.
Santa Claus has lived in Finnish Lapland longer than even he can remember. His original home is on Korvatunturi, a fell, where many of Christmas’ greatest secrets still lie hidden. In 1927, a good friend of Santa, known as Uncle Markus, accidentally revealed the whereabouts of Santa’s home and curious searchers began to follow his trail. Of course, they failed to find the home of Santa Claus, which is one of the world’s closest guarded secrets. However, Santa didn’t want to disappoint his friends. Accordingly, half a century later, he welcomed them for the first time to Rovaniemi at the Arctic Circle. He could not have chosen a better place. As well as being the home of Santa’s magical world, the Arctic Circle also acts as a gateway to a slower-paced, enchanted time. As the number of guests grew year by year, Santa finally made an historic promise: Rovaniemi would become his official home town, a meeting place for all friends of Christmas, and Santa himself would be available to meet them on every day of the year.
As the Official Hometown of Santa Claus(R), Rovaniemi is one of the very few places on Earth where Christmas can be experienced all year round. Every day, Santa welcomes visitors from all over the world at the Santa Claus Village, 8 km north from the centre of Rovaniemi. Letters from around the globe are on display at Santa Claus’ Main Post Office, where visitors can order letters from Santa and send their own holiday greetings, stamped with a special postmark. Its official address is:
Santa Claus’ Main Post office,
Santa Claus Village Rovaniemi,
Tähtikuja 1, 96930 Arctic Circle,
The post office is open every day of the year.
Rovaniemi is easy to reach all year round. The town is situated at the crossing of three national main roads and European motorway 75, which intersects the centre of town. Rovaniemi has excellent connections to all major European and Asian airports, with three to six daily flights to and from Helsinki. Many tour operators have seasonal charter flights to Rovaniemi, mainly during the Christmas and winter season. The airport is only 8 km from downtown Rovaniemi and 80 km from Ranua.
In addition, the two towns are connected by several day trains and two night trains every day. Coach services operate between Rovaniemi and other destinations throughout Lapland, including Kemi and the ski resorts.
According to Lapp and Sámi tradition, the year contains eight seasons rather than four. A simple division into spring, summer, autumn and winter would not do the annual cycle justice in the far North, where seasons of transition – spring-winter, summer-spring, autumn-summer and winter-autumn, so to speak – have their own distinct characters.
The eight seasons of the North make Rovaniemi an ideal place for cherishing the nightless nights of summer and the unique twilight of winter. On clear nights, the midnight sun is visible in Rovaniemi from 6 June to 7 July. The first snowfalls usually occur in October.
Rovaniemi and its surroundings offer a wealth of outdoor experiences. In the North, nature plays an important part in people’s everyday lives. For many locals sport and so-called functional exercise, such as berry picking and mushrooming, are favourite pastimes. There are many nature trails in the vicinity of Rovaniemi.
Rovaniemi offers plenty of entertainment, including several international events around the year. Examples include Arctic Lapland Rally, Arctic Design Week, the Grand Christmas Opening and Santa is on his way.
The event calendar of Visit Rovaniemi, www.visitrovaniemi.fi
Getting Sporty in Ounasvaara
Rovaniemi boasts a versatile sports culture. The town’s 380 sports facilities range from skating rinks to swimming halls and snowmobile routes. The total number of sports clubs is over 200. Ounasvaara is Rovaniemi’s green oasis – or white in winter, when the hill becomes a resort for skiers and
Sports institute Santasport at Ounasvaara offers first-class training in a wide range of sports. Its facilities and services include an ice hall, indoor fields for football and athletics, well-equipped gyms and a crosscountry skiing track supplemented with artificial snow as well as a spa, a sports club, a bowling alley, the Funpark for kids and accommodation.
- 7 slopes, 4 lifts, altitude difference 140 m
- 100 km of cross-country skiing tracks (50 km illuminated)
- Children’s skiing park; snowboarding street and halfpipe
- Ski rental, ski school, restaurant
- Winter and summer sledging
- Downhill cycling park
- Popular viewpoint, several nature trails
- Ski jumping
Korundi House of Culture has a fascinating history. This building is one of the few in Rovaniemi that survived the Second World War. Built in 1933, the premises saw long service as a depot for postal vehicles. After the war, an extension was added to the depot, using bricks salvaged from the ruins strewed across the city. In 2009 and 2010, a new round of extension and renovation work was performed, headed by local architect studio Juhani Pallasmaa.
Two art organisations of Finnish and international interest and importance lie at the core of activities at the Korundi House of Culture: The Chamber Orchestra of Lapland and the Rovaniemi Art Museum. The museum’s Jenny & Antti Wihuri Foundation Collection is one of Finland’s finest collections of modern art. The museum’s key exhibition theme is the Nordic perspective and the Arctic regions. Temporary exhibitions focus on international and local phenomena, based on a wide variety of visual artwork.
The Chamber Orchestra of Lapland is the most northerly professional orchestra in Finland and the European Union. It has 18 players and conductor John Storgårds has been its Artistic Director since autumn 1996. The orchestra frequently gives Finland’s first performances of works by international composers and has premièred pieces by a number of leading composers.
Arktikum was opened to the public in 1992, during Finland’s 75th Independence Day celebrations. The building was designed by the Danish architecture group
Birch-Bonderup & Thorup-Waade. Designed by Bonderup and Lehtipalo, the crescent-shaped new annex was completed in autumn 1997. The museum’s most striking feature, its glass corridor, is 172 metres long. This tube serves as the “Gateway to the North”´.
The Provincial Museum of Lapland’s permanent exhibition, Northern Ways, introduces visitors to the story of how people and nature have prevailed in the North. Taking visitors on a tour through history from ancient times to the present day, the exhibition gives a rich account of the causes and effects of local cultural development. The Arctic Centre’s main exhibition, the Arctic in Change, is an interactive introduction to the cultures, living conditions and natural life of the northern region. Temporary exhibitions at Arktikum provide fascinating further perspectives on the Arctic theme.
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