The Lapland - The North of Finland tourism project is launching the winter season with an attention-grabbing international holiday swap campaign. Who will be the lucky one to step into the shoes of a Lapland northern lights hunter or snowboarder and travel to a visitor-friendly, arctic wilderness in December. The campaign will gain extra publicity from the impressive Northern Lights Bus, bringing the experience of Lapland on wheels to London, Manchester and Birmingham. Anyone can apply for a holiday swap and the campaign can be followed online at onlyinlapland.com/meetthelocals, Facebook and YouTube.
"The silence and space of Lapland give you room to breathe. I want people who live in the city of London to be able to experience what is unique about Lapland - the northern lights and the brightly shimmering snow", Lapland holiday swapper and northern lights hunter Gareth Hutton explains why he joined the campaign.
As well as Gareth, who lives in Enontekio, two other Finnish families in Rovaniemi and Pyhatunturi are also offering to share their lives in Lapland with visitors from abroad. Holiday swap winners from any country will be selected in October and the week-long stay will take place from 2 - 8 December 2013.
"Travellers want to be surrounded by the local way of life and are looking for unique experiences. These holiday swappers are opening their own homes to others, sharing the environment in which they live and talking about the experience of Lapland," says Hanna-Mari Talvensaari, Head of Marketing, Lapland - The North of Finland, from the Regional Council of Lapland.
The Lapland - The North of Finland winter campaign kicks off at an event for the media at the Finnish Embassy in London on 5 September 2013. Everyone will be able to find out more about the lives of the Lapland holiday swap participants and the wonders of the nature of Lapland on the internet and on the Northern Lights Bus. From 9 to 15 September the Northern Lights Bus, based on a traditional double decker, will be touring London, after which the Lapland experience will move on to Manchester and Birmingham.
Lapland is soaring in popularity among foreign tourists. Last year Lapland accommodation businesses clocked up 2.4 million nights, an all-time high. Foreign guest nights were up 13.5% on the previous year. The largest group of tourists, measured in terms of nights spent, was from Britain, followed by Russia with Germany coming in third. (Statistics Finland 2013)
Meet the locals!
Gareth Hutton (32) who runs his own nature tourism business in Enontekio is originally from New Zealand. He first came to Finnish Lapland to do voluntary work with huskies in 2009. He lost his heart to the wilderness of Lapland and to Finnish Elina and he's still there. Gareth loves snowboarding and snowshoeing and his passion is photography.
Anu Lampinen (29) who loves snowboarding and Western riding works at the central booking office of the Pyhatunturi resort. Sporty Anu's life revolves around her own Quarter horse and her boyfriend. With her boyfriend she goes snowboarding and surfing and enjoys travelling in search of the perfect wave.
As well as working as a journalist and a teacher, Eero and Tiina Leppanen (50) from Rovaniemi have grown-up children and enjoy skiing, mountain biking, mushroom picking and travelling. The cross-country ski trails and nature trails on the hill Ounasvaara start from the family's back garden, which mean the forest is literally on their doorstep.
New in Lapland for the winter season 2013-2014
According to NASA's predictions, 2013 offers the best chance of seeing the northern lights in 11 years. The first aurora has already been seen in the skies of Lapland. Northern lights hunts are offered by the traditional reindeer farm Lumikyla Torasieppi and Muotka Wilderness Lodge in Saariselka. The unique Olokolo pod offers a warm but sheltered spot in Kemi to watch the dance of the northern lights in the night sky. Snowmobile and husky safaris are another unforgettable way of chasing the northern lights. A scientific explanation for the sound of the northern lights can be found at the Aurora Borealis exhibition at Rovaniemi's Arktikum Science Museum.
Motor sports fans can enjoy the thrill of speed at Pyha-Luosto ice karting or Levi RallyCenter. For music lovers, the 33rd Kaamosjazz festival in Saariselka this year (21-24 November) offers star performer English jazz singer Claire Martin with her trio, not to mention top Finnish soloists too. Round off a busy day by relaxing at the new Joulukka Sauna World opening in September. As well as traditional saunas, Sauna World offers new and unique sauna experiences, including a wood-fired sauna in a tree.
Ever-popular with tourists, Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi has been busy with elves hammering and sawing. In December Arctice Winter Wonderland opens its igloo hotel. Ten new cottages will also be ready for Christmas in the holiday village. The magical Lainion lumikyla Snow Village is the perfect setting for honeymoons or other important celebrations. Inside one of the breath-taking ice and snow structures you can spend the night in a snow hotel, dine in the ice restaurant or dance and enjoy drinks from glasses made of ice. 15 million kg of snow and about 300,000 kg of crystal-clear natural ice are used as building materials in this area covering about 20,000 m2.
Amazing experiences Lapland can offer: