Tromsø International Film Festival, Norway
Catch the latest film offerings from across Northern Europe at one of the world’s most northerly film events. Screenings take place in the open air around town as well as in more conventional cinemas. Why not use the festival as an excuse to go hunting for the northern lights, or aurora borealis, too? Tromsø is reputed to be one of the best places to see the phenomenon thanks to its cloud-free skies in winter.
Jokkmokk Winter Market, Sweden
Join the throngs of people who pour into this cute little town on the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland every February for a real winter highlight. There’s a veritable Wild West feel to the place as street stalls sell everything from reindeer skins to bubblegum and there’s a chance too to sample some real Sámi delicacies such as birch sap soup or sautéed smoked reindeer with mash and lingonberries.
Kautokeino Easter Festival, Norway
The highlight of the festival in the normally sleepy Lapland town of Kautokeino, lost somewhere on the remote Finnmarksvidda plateau, is the Sámi version of the Eurovision Song Contest. Witness everything from the hypnotic joik, a kind of throat singing, to the latest beats of Sámi pop and rock. Definitely, a douze points!
Reindeer racing, Inari, Finland
With Lapland’s forests and watercourses still covered by a thick layer of snow and ice, one of Finnish Lapland’s biggest lakes becomes the showground for one of the most unusual events you’ll ever witness. Pulled along at up to 50km per hour, herders on skis and wearing crash helmets hurtle along the frozen lake behind their animals in an attempt to be first across the finishing line.
Norwegian National Day, Norway
The Norwegians are big on celebrating their country and what it means to be Norwegian. In towns and villages across Norwegian Lapland on 17 May people will be out celebrating, whatever the weather. With parades through the streets, alfresco music events and any number of competitions and games, the Norwegian use their national day as an excuse for one big party.
Midsummer, Swedish Lapland
Of all the Nordic nations, it’s the Swedes who celebrate Midsummer with the most gusto. With dancing around the maypole and parties long into the white night of the far north, Swedish towns and villages come alive with merriment and laughter – an ancient celebration of the end of the seemingly endless dark winter and the fertility which accompanies the long, warm days of summer.
Midnight Sun, Rovaniemi, Finland
Stand on the Arctic Circle in Finland and witness the amazing spectacle that is the Midnight Sun. During the long months of summer in the far north the sun never sets. So whether it’s sitting reading the newspaper, enjoying a picnic by the banks of the Ounasjoki River or simply wandering the streets of Rovaniemi, you’ll have perfect daylight at midnight – and you won’t be alone. The Finns never seem to sleep during the long days of summer.
Storstämmningshelgen, Arvidsjaur, Sweden
A great time to be in the village of Arvidsjaur. The local Sámi gather in town in traditional dress to celebrate this ancient festival. The wooden dwellings in Lappstaden, the old collection of Sámi cottages in town, are occupied – smoke rises from the fire in the hearth, any number of reindeer concoctions are rustled up for a tasty supper. Oh, and don’t forget the reindeer lassoing competition – it’s quite an art form.
Römppäviikko festival, Pajala, Sweden
Singing and dancing and drinking – and who said Lapland didn’t know how to party? Thousands upon thousands of people pour into this riverside town in Swedish Lapland for a week-long bash which features any number of activities and attractions, including bizarre sauna endurance competitions. There’s also a chance to pick up some fantastic handicrafts from the market stalls which are set up for the riotous event – one of the biggest in the whole of Lapland.
October marks the beginning of the ski season in Lapland and the ski resorts in Finnish Lapland are already gearing up for the winter. Be it Ylläs, Levi, Luosto or even romote Kilpisjärvi, it’s Finland which attracts most skiers to Lapland and there’s a great choice of slopes as well as the option to spend a night in a glass igloo, for example, keeping an eye out for the northern lights.
Polar night and the aurora borealis, Abisko, Sweden
By November in Lapland there’s very little if any natural daylight due to the region’s northerly location. However, that’s the perfect time to spot the northern lights or aurora borealis. Though there’s no individual place to see the natural phenomenon, Abisko in Swedish Lapland is geared up for the burgeoning northern lights tourism. Ride the chairlift to the top of Nuolja mountain to the Aurora Sky station and stare up to thd heavens. You may just be lucky. Abisko has the most clean skies in Sweden. For a list of recommended tour operators running trips to see the northern lights, click here.
Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Finland
With Christmas in the air, Santa Claus is busy with all his helpers at the Santa Claus village on the Arctic Circle just outside Rovaniemi preparing for the big day. Here you can not only meet the famous man in the red coat but you can also come face-to-face with his reindeer on a sleigh safari, ride a snowmobile through the snowy forests or go on a husky ride. And what’s more there are direct charter flights to Rovaniemi from airports across Europe.