The Independent Parent: 'Is it possible to go on a day trip to Lapland?'

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The Independent Travel

Q. My husband wants to take our five-year-old grandson to visit Father Christmas in Lapland for the day on 11 December. Is this possible and is there still availability?
W Morgan, via e-mail

A. Lots of families will be heading off to Lapland this winter to deliver their letters to Father Christmas. As you obviously know, it is possible to get there and back in a day, but these trips tend to be expensive.

Lapland extends across northern Sweden, Norway, Russia and Finland, and covers around 100,000 sq km of land in Finland alone. Bridge (0870 191 7292; www.bridge-travel.co.uk) offers day-trips to Ivalo, which is within the Arctic Circle on the shores of Lake Inarijarvi in north-east Finland. Trips depart on 4, 11, 19, 20, 21 and 22 December with departures alternating between Gatwick, East Midlands, Stansted and Manchester airports.

The flight time is approximately three and-a-half hours, so you will spend roughly five hours in Lapland. The trip features reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobile treks, ice-fishing, tandem skiing, tobogganing, dog-sledding and, of course, the all-important meeting with Father Christmas. The activities on offer depend on weather conditions and the time you have available, and the trip would cost £475 for your husband and £435 for your grandson. This includes return flights from London Gatwick to Ivalo, transfers, thermal outer clothing (temperatures have been known to fall to -35C), all activities, a hot lunch, a certificate for crossing the Arctic Circle and a present from the man himself. Bridge currently has space available on 11 December.

Canterbury Travel (01923 823470; www.laplandexperience.com) also offers trips to Finnish Lapland that depart on 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 December from Birmingham, Gatwick, Cardiff, Bristol, Teeside, Luton, Newcastle and Manchester airports. This time the destination is Kittila, in the north-west of the country, and the itinerary includes tobogganing, snowmobiling and sleigh rides. The 11 December departure is from Cardiff while the trip the following day leaves from Bristol. This itinerary would cost £369 for your husband and £349 for your grandson, a saving of nearly £200 on the Bridge price, and includes return flights and similar activities.

There is a lot to see in Lapland, and your husband and grandson don't have to limit their stay to one day. The region is also home the Sami people, and is an excellent place from which to see the Northern Lights.

Scandinavian travel specialist Scan Meridian (020-7431 5322; www.scanmeridian.co.uk) offers all-inclusive three- and four-day breaks to Lapland from London Heathrow. Its three-day pre-Christmas break to Harriniva in the north-west of Finnish Lapland departs on 11 December, with similar four-day itineraries departing on 16 and 19 December.

Again this trip includes similar activities to those mentioned previously, although visitors will also get the chance to drive a herd of reindeer, make tree decorations and bake gingerbread biscuits. The cost would be £760 for your husband and £560 for your grandson to share a room, plus an extra £40 single supplement for your husband as most companies calculate prices based on two adults sharing. This includes return flights, two nights' accommodation, thermal clothes, snow-shoeing, tobogganing, reindeer driving, certificates, dog-sledding, a meeting with Father Christmas, craft activities and a present. Adults can also go snow-mobiling for an extra £60.

Availability is limited for 11 December, but there is also some availability for the four-day trip, departing on 16 December. This will cost £985 for your husband and £685 for your grandson.

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