Santa Claus, polar lights, a hotel made of snow and the restaurant in an igloo with tables cut in ice – such are the attractions people associate with Rovaniemi. This capital of the Lapland administrative region has a population of 60,000 inhabitants and is at the same time the most expansive town in Finland.
Rovaniemi is both the economic and the tourism centre of the region. Almost all of its buildings were constructed after the Second World War, since 90% of them were destroyed by military operations.
Santa Claus from the heart of Lapland
Rovaniemi lies only a few kilometers from the south of the Arctic Circle. The Village of Santa Claus was built in 1985 for tourists on the very line of latitude which marks the Arctic Circle. This is because Rovaniemi is known as the official place of residence of the person who is very important for modern children. The majority of the letters addressed to Santa Claus come to the postal office of the village.
On this latitude, winter lasts for six months (the lowest temperature recorded here was -45.3 Celsius). Thus, Rovaniemi is eagerly visited by the enthusiasts of snow and ice attractions, for whom the restaurant and the hotel are both made of snow. From here, the enthusiasts of polar adventures start their expeditions even further northwards.
Olsztyn behind the Arctic Circle
The partnership cooperation between Olsztyn and Rovaniemi was established already in the 1970s and 1980s, especially within the culture sector. Near the Arctic Circle, very widely reported were e.g. the performances by the Olsztyn Pantomime held in 1983.
The partnership between the two cities was resumed in 1994. Soon after, both cities were awarded the "Golden Star of Twin Cooperation" by the European Commission. As a part of the mutual relations between Olsztyn and Rovaniemi there have been many visits of children and youth delegations, or artistic groups.
However, the most spectacular events have been the successive visits of the Santa Claus from Lapland to Olsztyn. The first of them took place in December 1996. Since 2009, Santa Claus has become a regular guest of the annual Warmian Christmas Market held in December at the old town in Olsztyn.