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Lapland Holidays

Take a trip to the edge of the world, in Finland's own adventure playground.
  Near-mythical Lapland lives in the imagination. A world of extremes, its midnight sun surrenders to the polar night come November, and popular ski resorts make way for desolate subarctic wilderness. 'The lapin taika' or 'the magic of Lapland, is kept alive by the indigenous Sámi peoples, whose ancient singing, the trancelike yoik, is said to evoke the very essence of a person, animal or place.    Silvery forests, wild reindeer and snowladen fells add to the enchantment as does Father Christmas, who 'officially calls Lapland home. But perhaps most magical of all are the aurora borealis, or northern lights.
  Vast and silent, Lapland's remoteness makes it a mecca for the most dedicated aurora chasers though not all who search will bear witness to Mother Nature's sensational light show. Although visible from late August until mid April, the natural phenomenon is famously unpredictable. According to Sámi legend, the lights are the dancing souls of those who have passed away, and onlookers should refrain from pointing at them. Starting out slowly. green tendrils stretch across the inky sky, before bursting into dancing curtains of colour. These are joined by yellow and purple light, radiating from every direction, as snow sparkles underfoot, reflecting the sequined sky.
  With sightings of the 'tricky lady' few and far between, Finnish Lapland is no less a winter wonderland. Come November, as the long winter sets in the sun breathes its last breath and the polar night finally takes hold. The sun will not truly rise again until late January - instead, skirting just below the horizon, it will cast beautiful sunset shades of violet, blue and, at its very brightest, pink.
  Despite the short days, and relative darkness, the season is seen not as a time to lament the fallen sun, but one when the greatest memories are formed. From husky sledding and snowmobiling to skiing, snowshoe hiking and ice fishing, there are myriad ways to explore the magical icy tundra. When adventure has been had and exhaustion hits, long nights are spent exchanging stories and feasting on freshly caught salmon, roasted on a crackling fire.
  For snow bunnies and thrill-seekers, Lapland's versatile ski resorts offer everything from to black runs to kids' slopes, with cross-country exploring aplenty for solitary souls. The 'big four' - Levi, Ylläs, Pyhä-Luosto and Ruka - on the fringes of Europe's largest wilderness, boast some of Lapland's prettiest pistes.
  Levi is the most popular, with two snow parks, a variety of slopes and lively après-ski culture. Meanwhile, the twin resorts of Pyhä and Luosto are the most laid-back, famous for their picturesque backcountry and freeriding zones. But many argue that Ylläs, with its six fells, takes the crown as a keen skier's paradise It's been luring visitors since 1957, when its first ski lift was opened. While floodlights keep many of the slopes open during the polar night, nature provides all the illumination one could hope for by February, until the snow melts around May.
  With the dark winter over. Lapland bursts into colour, before being bathed in 24-hour sunlight as the midnight sun ushers in a fitting contrast to the winter night. The long days and temperate weather call for hikes, horseback rides and canoeing.
  Sprawling 285,550 hectares (705,609 acres) towards Norway's border, Lemmenjoki is Finland's largest national park. Endless pine forests, rugged fells and mirror-like rivers make it ideal hiking territory, as does the smattering of juicy berries, just waiting to be picked and baked into a hot, sweet pie. It's also prime gold real estate, where solitary prospectors splash away with their pans.
  West of Lemmenjoki National Park lies Inari village, the cultural heart of Sámi culture - home to its parliament, the Siida museum and a series of handicraft shops. From its position on the edge of Lake Inari, the country's largest, the ancient Sámi sacrificial site of Ukonsaari Island is a short boat ride away. Dedicated to Ukko, the god of thunder, people would travel to the isle to pray for favourable winds, making offerings to the deities. Even today, some locals still visit and flip a coin into the water, asking for the same.
  Another natural marvel, Oulanka National Park features hanging bridges, crystal clear waterfalls and a variety of hiking trails - some suitable for children, others requiring careful navigation up precarious rock walls. For adrenaline junkies, it's also home to category three, four and five rapids.
  Arguably the easiest of Lapland's multi-day hikes, the 55-kilometre (34-mile) Hetta-Pallas Trail passes through Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. The scenic route is dotted with quaint wilderness cabins, some with saunas, where weary travellers can rest their heads for the night.
  Finland's eastern borderlands offer a unique opportunity to view the magnificent brown bear in its natural habitat, amid ancient coniferous forests, with honey buzzards circling overhead. Overnight stays in a cabin-like hide enable visitors to go unnoticed, so the bears are not disturbed, as they gorge on deer or elk.