The stunning snow igloo and ice hotel attractions in Lapland are highlights of a wonderful winter holiday. Wrap up warm and prepare to have some frozen fun in Finland. Spending time outdoors in the pure, crisp Arctic air is good for the mind, body and soul.
There is something magical about snow. It creates a playground for winter activities. It covers up the muddy trails and paths to transform a landscape into a picture-perfect scene. Children build snowmen. Adults can discover the joys of snow too. The extensive list of snow-based sports and hobbies promise fun opportunities for everyone. If you love snow, head to Lapland. It is covered in snow for half the year. Book a tour to maximize your fun. The Scandinavian Travel Group has some excellent igloo building activities. Visiting a snow hotel or the Icehotel are also unforgettable experiences.
- 1. ARCTIC SNOW HOTEL & CASTLE This program begins in Rovaniemi, Lapland, from where you travel to the stunning Arctic Snow Hotel and Castle. It has to be seen to be believed. The snow and ice structures are incredible works of art. It is also an educational experience. A knowledgeable guide will tell you about how the creators manage to successfully build such a memorable hotel made from ice and snow.
- 2. SNOWMOBILE SAFARI TO LAINIO SNOW VILLAGE Discover a beautiful snow hotel. Speed through the Lappish landscape on a snowmobile to the Snow Village Lainio where you will discover a stunning world of snow and ice. Snow Village is packed with beautifully decorated rooms, sculptures, and a grand ice bar. The ice themes are different each year so there are always new snow surprises to wow visitors.
- 3. ICE KINGDOM INSPIRED BY DISNEY’S "FROZEN" What do you get when you mix Hollywood with snow? The Oscar-winning Disney movie called “Frozen”. It has inspired singalongs around the world and made everyone want to build a snowman. Disney artists had to take a crash course in meteorology to fully understand the wonder of snow. You can experience some of the movie magic on this tour. It includes a visit to the Snow Castle. You get to meet Olaf, Elsa and Anna in a wonderful interactive entertainment program. The Snow Castle is a must-see with beautiful ice decorations.
- 4. EXCURSION TO ICEHOTEL IN SWEDISH LAPLAND Have you ever wondered what the inside of an ice hotel looks like? If you are planning a winter vacation, we can make this dream come true with an unforgettable tour. This enchanting place is 200km north of the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. “Icehotel 365” is a permanent hotel with 18 suites of ice and snow. It invites visitors to experience the ice and snow year-round. “Icehotel Winter” is a separate structure and is rebuilt every year. It is made out of ice from the Torne River. Enjoy it while it lasts because when temperatures start to rise in springtime, the Winter Hotel melts back into the river. This program begins in Levi.
Lainio Snow village
The spectacular Snow Village is a winter wonderland found in the heart of the forests in close proximity to Levi in Lapland. Around 20 million kilos of snow and 350,000 kilos of pure ice are transformed into the Snow Village that includes snow suites, an ice bar, an ice restaurant and incredible ice sculptures. The artists and sculptors dream up a different theme for the village each year. For instance, “Game of Thrones” was a lavish theme one year. Last season was “Macro World” where large-scale ice transformations towered over visitors. This coming season the ice theme will be different once more.
Dinner at the Ice Restaurant is a memorable experience. The Scandinavian Travel Group LAINIO SNOW VILLAGE, DINNER IN ICE RESTAURANT program captures the magic of this snowy world and snow hotel. You are invited into the Snow and Ice Restaurant where you can enjoy a 3-course meal in a frosty setting made out of snow and ice. Wear warm clothes! The temperature inside any snow construction is always around -6° C. However, there are always plenty of warming drinks available to chase the chills away.
6 creative adventures with snow and ice
Snow and ice are natural cold materials that can be transformed into works of art or constructions that can be simple, solid or intricate depending on the size and scale of the project. Some are best left to the professionals or under the guidance of an expert while others are straightforward fun. Take a look at the following:
1. BUILD YOUR OWN SNOW IGLOO When in Lapland seize the opportunity to learn a new skill with a difference. It is not every day that you get to build a snow igloo with the help of an experienced guide. This special tour organized by the Scandinavian Travel Group takes place where there is an abundance of snow. All you need is a snow shovel and team spirit! You’ll be working alongside others who want to learn the ancient art of igloo building. Your finished igloo will become part of the Snow Igloo Park where it will be admired by the many tourists who visit Levi. Each igloo has a sign with the names and countries of those who helped to build it.
2. Snow angels: This is cool fun for everyone. All you need is snow and a little action to make a snow angel shaped by you. Lie down carefully on a patch of thick snow with your arms and legs outstretched. Then repeatedly move your arms and legs. It is a bit like doing jumping jacks lying flat on your back. Stand up carefully and admire the marvelous angel shape you have made in the snow.
3. Outdoor snow theater: The long, dark nights of a Lapland winter are the perfect backdrop for a movie night. Imagine watching a movie in an outdoor theater completely made of snow. This is what happens at the Skábmagovat Indigenous people’s film festival. It showcases indigenous people’s films annually in Inari, center of Sámi culture in Finland. It usually takes place in January when the polar night passes. The outdoor snow theater does get cold though. Bring a coat. You might end up watching a movie in temperatures around -30°C.
4. Ice sauna: It might sound like a contradiction in terms but an ice sauna in Finland is a real experience. The special snow sauna is made of ice and you can enjoy a gentle steam in this unique environment. There is a special technique to building the ice box-like sauna that usually can fit around 10 people at a time. Visit them in winter before they naturally begin to melt around April.
5. Colored ice sculptures: If you want to build a colorful ice sculpture, make your own rainbow-bright ice blocks. Simply add some drops of food coloring to an empty carton filled with water. Choose a carton that is nearest in shape and size to a brick. Leave it to freeze overnight then have fun building your own artistic sculpture.
6. Light up the night with snowball lanterns: This classic snow art activity never loses its charm. It is a familiar sight outside Finnish homes around Christmas time or whenever people want to bring a little snow-lit charm to their homes. It is a simple technique with stunning results. Start making snowballs. Then pile the snowballs into a pyramid shape. Before the final snowballs are in place, place a candle or lantern inside the pyramid to create a stunning ice light.
Ice art and design at IceHotel
If you book the Scandinavian Travel Group EXCURSION TO ICEHOTEL IN SWEDISH LAPLAND, you also get a chance to marvel at the ice art exhibition in the hotel’s Art & Design gallery. The Icehotel is proud to represent talented designers and artists who transform ice into stunning creations. As well as 20 standard ice rooms in the Winter Icehotel, it boasts 12 art suites each hand-carved to create unique works of art and structures. Icehotel 365 also has stunning works of sparkling ice art. For example, “Dreaming in a Dream” is a fantasy world of ice and snow. It is accompanied by audio to make it even more magical.
The Icehotel is situated in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi. The name Jukkasjärvi is a Sami word. It translates as “meeting place by the water”. The village used to be an important marketplace in the past. The Icehotel continues this tradition of bringing people. It hosts meetings between Jukkasjärvi residents and visitors. Celebrating different cultures coming together adds to the creative vibe in the hotel. It also symbolizes the bond between people and nature while celebrating the captivating world of ice and art.
Carving an ice sculpture
If you visit the IceHotel or a snow hotel decorated with lavish ice sculptures it is hard not to imagine how it is done. Hand-carving ice sculptures is specialist work. Ice is an unpredictable medium. Artists work with a selection of tools that help to carve and shape the ice blocks into objects or designs. Chisels, hand saws, heat guns and even chain saws can all be used to turn ice into something spectacular. Ice is water in a frozen state and the artist work fast to achieve results.
Sculptors usually choose to make their own ice. Specialist machines make blocks of ice with a crystal clear density. This involves keeping the water circulating to ensure any air bubbles and impurities lift to the surface as the water freezes. The process takes a couple of days. Then the artist draws a design on the ice. A hand saw is a favorite tool of sculptors to remove the excess ice. Smaller chisels help to refine the overall shape. As the work becomes more intricate the tools and chisels become smaller to help perfect the details until the ice sculpture is complete.
History of building an igloo out of snow
How do you survive in a snow and ice wilderness when you are far away from a house with a warm fire? You build a snow igloo. The Inuit, also known as Eskimos, came up with the idea for igloos centuries ago. Igloo is the Inuit word for “snow house”. It was a means of survival for hunters who left home to go hunting for seals and wildlife in the freezing Arctic winter. When it wasn’t possible to return to their homes, igloos provided a temporary hunting camp until the Inuit hunters could return home.
A construction made entirely of ice doesn’t sound like the warmest place in the world to spend the night. However, the secret lies in the construction. Solid blocks of compacted snow make a surprisingly snug dome-shaped structure once all the blocks are in place. Most importantly, it blocks out the bitterly cold wind. When you are inside an igloo, your body heat is contained within the insulated walls of snow. During the day, the sun melts the snow bricks of the snow igloo slightly. When the melted snow freezes again at night it forms a protective ice layer. The process of thawing and refreezing eventually turns the igloo to ice. It makes the igloo even more insulated and warmer as well as turning it into an incredibly strong shelter to withstand the harshest Arctic winds.
How to build an igloo
If you choose our BUILD YOUR OWN SNOW IGLOO tour, our experienced guides are available to show you the tricks and techniques when it comes to building an igloo out of snow. You need at least two people to do the job. Teamwork makes it a more enjoyable (and quicker!) experience. Here is a rough guide:
- 1. Go to a reasonably flat area where there is plenty of snow.
- 2. Use your snow shovels to make a large snow pile. Once you have created a big mold of snow, press and pack the snow with shovels to make it more solid.
- 3. Let the snow settle and harden for about 30 minutes.
- 4. Cut a hole in the structure to make an entrance. Continue to dig out an inner “cave”.
- 5. Smooth the interior walls with the flat side of your shovel or any other tool that will ensure an even finish.
- 6. Make a breathing hole in the roof to make sure the igloo is properly ventilated. The igloo is now complete.
Snow falling in Finland
Over the higher peaks of Lapland and high-latitude regions it is not unusual to see snowflakes falling at the end of August or in early September. The first ground-covering snow is the first official goodbye to summer. This longest period of consecutive snow cover days is referred to as permanent snow cover. It comes much earlier in Lapland than in other parts of Finland.
If you are planning a visit Finland, make sure you pack thermal clothes. How cold does it get? It depends on where you are. For example, temperatures in Rovaniemi around Christmas time can run from -20°C to +5°C. From December to February it is usually around -16°C to -3°C. However, temperatures can dip to a super chilly −30°C the further North you go in Finland. It creates plenty of opportunities to build a snow igloo! If you are dreaming of a white Christmas, then this is the place to go. The Finnish Meteorological Institute says that Lapland has more than a 90% chance of a white Christmas each year.
Although it gets cold in Lapland the clear dry air helps to make it feel warmer than what it says on the temperature gauge. Also, when you are wearing suitable outdoor clothing and enjoying outdoor activities the cold is rarely a problem. Also, if you book any tours with the Scandinavian Travel Group there are always plenty of opportunities to warm up. For example, if you go on a night mobile safari in search of the Northern Lights the guide will light up a bonfire in a traditional Lappish teepee (kota). There is hot food and drinks too. You can grill traditional Finnish “makkara” sausage on the fire and enjoy hot berry juice.
Winter in Lapland can last up to 7 months. By mid-March the snow cover is impressively thick and deep. Abundant snow creates lots of opportunities for visiting a snow hotel and building an igloo out of snow. The snow can even last into April but thereafter it starts to melt as the temperatures warm up for the summer season.
There are around 200 days of snow per year. However, if you want to explore Lapland when there is the most snow, the best time to visit is in late January and February. This is when you are most likely to experience 25cm to 70cm of snow on the ground. In Northern Lapland, this amount is considered peak snow cover, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Deep snow is a familiar sight around and above the Arctic Circle. These areas receive the most snowfall in Finland. Imagine the fun you could have on a winter vacation! Skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, igloo building and, of course, the best-ever snowball fight.
Thanks to lush snow on the ground for over half the year, the ski resorts enjoy longer seasons than resorts in the Alps. Look out for snow as early as late August on the highest peaks. From October onwards, the snow starts to look really deep and impressive. You’re looking at over a meter of snow cover throughout the winter season. If you are planning a ski trip, any time from the end of November through to May is the best window of opportunity for great snow on the slopes. In the unlikely event the slopes are light on snow, most ski resorts have artificial snowmaking technology. The freezing winter temperatures create the perfect conditions for snow cannons to work their magic.
These minus temperatures continue through to the end of the season. The extreme cold is great news for the slopes because the snow doesn’t melt and become wet and slushy. It is a different story over in the Alps when everyone is wishing for more snowfall in spring. Whereas, in Lapland, the snow is a gift that keeps on giving in the spring months. You’ll find some of the deepest snow arrives at the start of April.
78% of Finland is covered in forest. It is an impressive mix of pine, fir and birch trees. Now imagine thousands of these forests thickly covered in glittering snow. It is a magical sight. Finland also has around 188,000 lakes. Vast frozen lakes are another familiar scene throughout the winter months.
The delicate beauty of snowflakes
Snow falling on fingertips is an experience that never grows old. The intricate design of the snowflake possibly has infinite variations. This suggests that all snowflakes are unique. They are definitely intriguing thanks to their striking shape and structure that starts out as a droplet of water before freezing into an ice crystal at temperatures of around −35°C or lower. As the ice crystal begins to grow and fall through the air, it collects water molecules that come together to make a snowflake.
Fun snow facts
- • Snow isn’t white! It is translucent. It is a formation of iced crystals. The light reflecting off numerous crystals makes it appear white.
- • There are many words for snow. The Inuit are very creative when it comes to using words to describe the white stuff in its different shapes and form. For example, “qanuk” is snowflake and “muruaneq” is deep snow.
- • You can warm up in the snow. It might be cold to touch but snow has surprising insulating properties because it is 90 per cent trapped air. Animals burrow deep in the snow to warm up and igloos and body heat are an excellent body warming combination.
- • It can take around an hour for a snowflake to fall from a cloud and form before it hits the ground depending on the environmental conditions.
Short days and starry nights
Lapland’s daylight hours are limited. When you travel to the Arctic Circle the sun keeps a low profile in the middle of winter. You might get around 1½ to 3 hours of daylight. This is in sharp contrast to summer when the sun can shine for 24 hours. These extremes sum up the fabulous, unpredictable offerings of Lapland.
The lack of sunshine in Lapland in winter is not a problem if you are planning fun. The resorts are always well-lit with twinkling lights. Also, the darker nights are perfect when you want to increase your chances of seeing the phenomenal Northern Lights.
Book Your Snow Hotel and Snow Igloo Program
It couldn’t be easier to put your winter plans into action. Book tours and excursions online. You can also email us: email@example.com and our travel agent will be in touch. If you would like to chat with someone, call/WhatsApp/Viber +358 400 514 530.
As well as snow building and visits to snow hotels and castles, we have an exciting range of other tours and programs available. These include:
- • Meet Santa Claus and the Elves’ Kingdom
- • Chasing the Northern Lights
- • Snowshoeing
- • Snowmobiling
- • Reindeer safaris and farm visits
- • Ice fishing
- • Husky tours and farm visits
Take a moment to explore our website for inspiration and ideas or contact us directly if you have any questions about our tours and prices.