Excellent experience for children. The Santa Village in Joulouka is rustic and "real". The elves do a great job taking care of the kids and being entertaining. Our kids thought they were seeing the "Real Santa".
The other Santa Village in the main part of Rovanemi town is not "real" and the kids will see "through it", like the mall santa...
From the moment I stumbled across Jane on Trip Advisor she was absolutely, unquestionably fantastic to deal with. I was coordinating a holiday for 9 Australians (4 adults and 5 children aged 3, 7, 7, 9 and 9) who wanted to experience a white Christmas. After looking at the past snow patterns across Europe we began to head North and researching Lapland. A company here in Australia had an inflexible holiday package at AUD$20,000 for one family of 5. However, when I began to research whether I could put together a similar trip myself, I found Jane's company. Jane was extraordinary. She swiftly looked at accommodation options for us, managed to put together a schedule of tours that we wanted to participate in and at a very reasonable price compared to the inflated Australian companies offering. Jane was flexible when flight changes meant we needed to re-arrange some days, was in constant contact with us (including throughout our stay), sent us special paper for the children to write to Santa (Santa pulled these letters out and showed the children he'd received them) arranged the "same Santa" to attend our cabin and for us to visit him, arranged where I could deliver "Santa gifts" so that they were brought to the children and much, much more. She even offered advice on clothing, how to prepare ourselves for Lapland weather conditions, provided extra information on how to keep out youngest warm and made restaurant bookings for us. From the moment we got off the train in Kittila to the point we were taken to the airport when we left each and every tour guide turned up on time, each restaurant booking was in place and this allowed us to have great fun. I cannot express our gratitude to Jane for her professionalism, her knowledge and her time in helping us create a magical Christmas so far from home. I would urge anyone reading this review not to hesitate in using Jane to arrange your holiday... you will not be disappointed. Us 9 Australians will hold our Lapland memories for a lifetime.
I give this location and experience 5 stars. Here are my reasons why:
COMMUNICATION: Jane was so easy to coordinate with. She answered a million questions from me, and each time, within 24 hours of my sending the query. She was so patient with me, because she knew I was a complete stranger to Lapland, and wanted me to understand the terrain. She was very organized, too. She had deadlines and reminders for everything, so all I had to do was decide on which excursions to go on. She even gave us various alternatives as to how to get to the village (by train vs. by Finnair)
Also, she was responsive even during our stay --- I had questions about how to use the washing machine because I didn't understand Finnish and I'm typically tech-maladapted, but she was patient enough to write down everything step-by-step. We really appreciated her kindness and thoughtfulness.
VALUE: The log cabin we rented was so spacious. It has two beds on the second floor (perfect for kids), a living room, a working kitchen, and a bedroom with two beds put together. It also had two bathrooms and one shower (as well as a sauna room). Seriously, you can't beat this deal -- most hotels would charge you twice the amount Jane charges. It felt so homey (she left the Christmas tree there for us to enjoy), and had all the amenities one would wish for a snowy holiday -- sleds, firewood, all the hot chocolate and coffee you want, etc.
LOCATION: It is so perfectly located, because it is amongst other cabins, several meters away from restaurants and stores (not too far away, but close enough to walk to). It would get so quiet by around 7pm. Also, the cabin is right behind a forest, so when you wake up, you get a beautiful view --- trees blanketed in pure snow. Additionally, if you're lucky enough and there are no clouds to obscure your view, you have a perfect view of the Aurora Borealis --- it was right above us a couple of nights.
TRANSPORTATION: We had the use of Annen Taksi the whole time. During the milder days, we preferred to trek to and from restaurants like Evaskori Pizza (really amazing reindeer and bear pizza). But on heavy snow days, we would call up Annen and request a taxi and they always picked us up within five minutes of us placing the call.
EFFICIENCY: All the excursions were planned meticulously down to the last detail. We were picked up and dropped off at the designated times. Nothing broke down, no one was late --- every single cog in the wheel worked. And it's not as if they were constantly rushing. One thing I noticed about the Finns is that they take their time, but they make sure to waste no one's.
UNIQUENESS: I would have to say that Fun with Santa Oy really outdid themselves when it came to the excursions they offered. My family was blown away by the Lainio Village (Snow and Ice) because of how exquisite the ice sculptures and carvings were. My son's favorite was the trip to see Santa (who even gave him a present!). My personal favorite was the Husky Sled ride - 9 kilometers of pure exhiliration (my hubby piloted the ride) -- you get to witness how dogs become a team whilst enjoying the view. You will come away from these experiences feeling richer.
All in all, we absolutely loved our stay in the cabin and would recommend anyone and everyone to book their vacation with Jane. You won't regret it.
We wanted this holiday to be something special & magical, and it has lived up to this & more!! This was very much down to the fact that Jane is so super organised & informative. The trips she arranged were fab, with the bonus of being picked up & dropped off at our cabin! I’ve heard other families saying they had to queue to see Santa, well not on Janes trips!! We were one of four families, & we were all entertained with gingerbread decorating & elves whilst each family had their special time with the big man, it was truly magical! We can’t fault a single thing with our whole 1 week holiday, and would recommend Jane at Fun With Santa time & time again!!
Following a friend's recommendation, we got in touch with Jane at FWS to arrange our family Christmas holiday. She was extremely helpful throughout the planning. We were provided with a detailed list of side trips available from snow mobiling through to ice fishing. As my daughter and son in law were travelling separately to us, she arranged for their ski passes and snow shoe hire direct with them. We hired our artic gear through her and as the temperature went down to -30 degrees C, this was a necessity which we collected from the local office.
The cabin was well equipped with everything you could possibly need; lovely and warm with its own 'in house sauna'. Any minor problems we had were dealt with by Jane remotely and very quickly.
Taxis were there to collect us from our flights and take us back at the end of the week.
Nothing was too much trouble for her and I'd thoroughly recommend using FWS if you intend to visit Finnish lapland.
We had such an amazing trip filled with family fun and winter magic, I would 110% recommend you book this cabin through Jane at Fun With Santa. She was so kind, helpful and professional. We were originally going to book everything direct ourselves, so had already booked the flights when we contacted Jane about booking her cabin. She gave us loads of advice on things to do and see, and booked all our excursions for us to save the hassle of us contacting companies in Finland ourselves. She charged no fee for doing this and the companies Jane used all had competitive rates and the experiences we had with them were priceless.
The cabin was lovely and cozy and we really enjoyed staying there. Our children even cried on our last night because they didn't want to leave. There was
a giant pile of ploughed snow just outside which the kids spent hours
sledging down every day. We built a big snowman by the front door - Mr
Frosty. It's hard work because the snow is like icing sugar and doesn't stick well but it's worth it. Guests that have stayed since we left have taken photos of Mr Frosty and sent to Jane for us so our children can see he's still there, which has been such a lovely gesture by Jane and her guests.
We arrived midday on a Monday, our first day, into Rovaniemi airport (a two and half hour drive from the cabin as flights were limited when we booked). We hired a car and despite my worries, my husband found it very easy to drive on the roads out there. Jane warned us to look out for reindeer and moose on the roads and luckily we didn't come across any! From the airport we drove down to Ranua Zoo (about 40 mins away). It really is well worth the trip if you get a chance. As well as all the other animals we wouldn't usually get to see ( including beavers, lynx, snow foxes, wolves, wolverines, moose and golden eagles), they had a polar bear and a cub. He was so cute we were all mesmerised watching him play. The enclosures were enormous and the animals appeared very well looked after. The polar bear was rolling around in the snow whilst her cub played and explored nearby. A sight few get to see first hand.
We stopped off at santa's official post office after on our way up to the cabin to break up the driving. We went there 12 years ago when on our honeymoon and it's changed so much and in my opinion is hugely built up and commercialised now. My husband and I didn't think too much of it, but the boys enjoyed it and spent some holiday money on husky and reindeer soft toys in the souvenir shops there.
We got to the cabin about 10.30pm. Jane's instructions on how and where to collect the keys from outside of the office's working hours were easy to follow and we had no trouble getting to the cabin. There was a folder in the cabin explaining how to work everything (dishwasher, sauna, heating etc) and we found everything very straightforward and easy to use. The children slept in the beds on the mezzanine and loved having their own little space in the cabin - it just added to the magic for them.
We spent Tuesday just playing in the snow and took the boys out to the lake
on the kick sled. That was hard work! But lots of fun. We went to the
supermarket too and I bought far too many snacks, sweets and chocolate
feeling nostalgic about the time I lived in Sweden as a child. I came home with a
suitcase full of junk food! The boys enjoyed being pulled to the supermarket in sleds then helping to pull the sleds back to the cabin laden with our supplies.
On Wednesday we had a husky sleigh ride. It was just as much fun as I
remember from our previous visit and the children loved it. The people running the safari were very friendly and informative. They invite you into a hut after to warm up over a hot drink whilst they answer your questions about the dogs and the racing they do. We also got to have cuddles with a puppy who was adorable.
After that day we went for our Santa visit. I cannot thank Jane enough for recommending that excursion. You get picked up from your cabin and taken into the woods in the middle of nowhere. Once there we got onto a sled pulled by a snowmobile and taken on a short ride down to a frozen river where we got in a sled pulled by a reindeer. We went along the river, the snow glistening all around us and the only noise coming from the reindeer's bell. It was simply magical. Santa was wonderful with the kids, so authentic and really funny. Thanks to Jane, he also had the letters with him that the children had sent to him. We spent 20 mins chatting to him in his little cabin before making our journey back up to a bigger cabin where we had soup and hot drinks. The children made little santas and decorated cookies with the elves, who were so much fun and really lovely. There were other activities to do with the elves before going back to the cabin. We played on kick sleds, normal sleds, the children had a go on a mini snowmobile and we even had a go with some snow shoes. That was much more exhausting than I thought it would be but heaps of fun. The elves were so kind and friendly I think the kids would have stayed with them all week if they could have.
Thursday morning my husband went snowmobiling for a couple of hours (this was very easy to book last minute on location) but the boys just wanted to play in the snow so I spent the morning sledging down various ploughed snow heaps and hills with them. After that we drove out to the snow village, which was well worth the drive (approx 30mins). We were completely blown away by the sculptures. They had a Game of Thrones theme and there were some incredible carvings. The boys spent half an hour playing on an ice slide and we bumped into the elves from their santa visit which made their day.
It was warmer than last time we went. It was between -15 & -25 on our last
trip. This time it stayed between -2 & -5 apart from Thursday when it
dropped to -20 so we were glad of all the layers we took and none of us felt
cold during our stay, which was good because I'd been worried about the kids
getting cold. If anything they kept overheating and sweating from all the sledging they
We were hoping to see the aurora but like our last visit it was too cloudy.
Thursday was clear all day but ended up cloudy half an hour before the
aurora would have been visible, so we'll just have to go again!
The village was much more built up than 12 years ago, which Jane had told us but we still loved it and it didn't feel busy. The cabin is in a lovely position
away from the main strip so it still had that magical eerie silence and
Massive thanks to Jane for all her help and for an amazing holiday. We were
itching to go back before we'd even left Finland. We all miss the snow
terribly. It's a good job Christmas was just around the corner when we got home so we had that to look forward to or we'd probably all still be feeling really sad to
be back in rainy old England. It really was a spectacular holiday and I
doubt very much we will be leaving it 12years this time before we go again!
We organised a one week holiday to Lapland for the kids to meet the "real Father Christmas" but thanks to Jane's help in organising the trip it became so much more. The highlight was of course the trip to see Santa which was made all the better by arriving by reindeer pulled sled. Other activities were also however very memorable including a huskie sled ride, snow mobile trip and of course the skiing. Our kids had never seen real snow before, let alone been skiing. The slopes from 10-17 December were amazingly quiet and ideal to learn on.
Jane's cabin was extremely cosy and one of the closer to the shops meaning it was possible to walk downhill when needed to buy food (taxi back due to the cold) and to the bus stop. And of course the kids just loved playing in the snow at the back of the cabin.
A truly memorable holiday - couldn't recommend it enough!