Reflection on Lake Kilpisjärvi, a tundra location
Photo by: Kirsikka Paakkinen

Finnish Lapland: The Perfect Arctic Stand-in Location

Finnish Lapland offers accessible and affordable stand-in locations for hard-to-reach winter settings like Greenland or Antarctica, as well as great lakes and Norwegian backdrops.

Visas, accommodation, travel costs and sustainable production goals often mean that you can’t film every setting on location. Luckily, Finnish Lapland offers up stand-in locations for winter and non-winter settings alike, easily accessible no matter where you are and often more affordable than the real thing.

WELCOME TO WINTER

When it comes to winter, you simply can’t do better than Finnish Lapland. And when it comes to grand snowy settings, it’s often easier to hop a 4-hour flight to Lapland than to fly halfway around the world.

When you think Lapland, you think snow. And for good reason. Winter lasts almost 6 months here, with snow falling first in November and usually lasting until May. When you need real snow, not soap flakes, for your Christmas movie set at the North Pole, our cozy villages deliver. Check out this video of Elves Village in Kittilä.

From Elves Village in Kittilä, Finland, a perfect stand-in location for the North Pole or any Christmas setting

And there’s no need to travel to the far-flung corners of the world to capture the Northern Lights. They look the same over our log cabins as they do over the small twinkling towns of Alaska. The difference, of course, is that you can easily fly directly to any of our airports in a few hours.

Northern Lights over Enontekiö, Finland, a stand-in location for Arctic settings
Photo by: Enontekiö | Tiina Törmänen
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for the whole Arctic, including Alaska.

Across Lapland’s eastern border sits the vast and complex country known as Russia. Because it’s not always inexpensive, easy or safe to travel to and through regions like Siberia, Lapland makes a great alternative stand-in location! When you need isolation and boundless nature, the forests and lakes that make up most of Lapland are perfect—not to mention more convenient with our rail and air connections.

Salla, Finland in winter, a stand-in location for Siberia
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for the whole Arctic, including Siberia.
Photo by: Visit Salla | Nadine Weiss
A retro building in downtown Sodankylä, Finland in winter, a stand-in location for Siberia
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for the whole Arctic, including Siberia.
Photo by: Jani Kärppä
Sodankylä, Finland in winter, a stand-in location for Siberia
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for the whole Arctic, including Siberia.
Photo by: Jani Kärppä

Greenland in winter is another role Lapland can pull off with ease. Though we do not have glaciers, in winter, both glaciers and Lapland are covered in a healthy amount of snow. And northern Lapland, both the mountainous west and the vast, flat east have that glacier-worn look.

Utsjoki, Finland in winter, a stand-in location for Greenland
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for the whole Arctic, including Greenland.
Photo by: Mikael Kunnari
Enontekiö, Finland in early winter, a stand-in location for Greenland
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for the whole Arctic, including Greenland.
Photo by: Jani Kärppä

But what about the other end of the world? The vast snow plains of Antarctica are virtually impossible to traverse without years of planning, not to mention the cost. Fortunately, Lapland has 20,000 lakes, most of which freeze over in the winter, offering a flat, snow-covered surface indistinguishable from the bottom of the world. (Throw in a few CGI penguins and you’re all set.)

Enontekiö, Finland in winter, a stand-in location for Greenland
Finnish Lapland even offers stand-in locations for Antarctica.
Photo by: Ilkka Mukkala
Enontekiö, Finland in winter, a stand-in location for Antarctica
Finnish Lapland even offers stand-in locations for Antarctica.
Photo by: Ilkka Mukkala
Enontekiö, Finland in winter, a stand-in location for Antarctica
Finnish Lapland even offers stand-in locations for Antarctica.
Photo by: Ilkka Mukkala

SNOW ISN’T EVERYTHING

Lapland is covered by snow for more than half the year. But summers in northern Finland offer just as many, if not more, variations and possibilities. In addition to the 24 hours of daylight (lasting more than three months in the north), the natural characteristics of Lapland cannot be overstated, especially for stand-in locations. The endless forests and backwaters will transport the viewer to New England for your horror film.

Pond and forest in Kittilä, Finland in summer, a stand-in location for backwaters like found in New England
Photo by: Kirsikka Paakkinen
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for moody, forested backwaters like those found in New England.

And our 2000 rivers and the aforementioned lakes are perfect stand-ins for the Great Lakes bordering Canada or northern Quebec, or the Yenisei river basin at the edge of Asia. (But you have to provide your own pandas.)

Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for deltas, rivers and lakes.
Lake Inari in summer, a stand-in location for deltas, rivers and lake settings
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for deltas, rivers and lakes.
Photo by: Lapland North

As a consequence of Brexit, it has become more difficult and costly for European film crews to shoot in the UK. Luckily, the rocky fells and river valleys of our northwestern panhandle feature the glens and straths you’re looking for. The lack of tall trees and the mountainous scenery suggest the fells of Scotland.

Stony riverbank in Utsjoki, Finland in summer, a stand-in location for Scotland
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for Scotland's stony rivers and gentle hills.
Photo by: Ilkka Mukkala
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for Scotland's stony rivers and gentle hills.
Photo by: Explore Utsjoki | Kota Collective
Utsjoki, Finland in summer, a stand-in location for Scotland
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations for Scotland's stony rivers and gentle hills.
Photo by: Explore Utsjoki | Kota Collective

The panhandle is also a great place to shoot “Norway” without the expenses normally associated with it. And the northern end of the Scandinavian mountain range rises just over the border, offering verisimilitude.

Enontekiö in autumn, a stand-in location for Norway
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations with authentic Norwegian backdrops.
Photo by: Jani Kärppä
Enontekiö, Finland in summer, a stand-in location for Norway
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations with authentic Norwegian backdrops.
Photo by: Mikael Kunnari
Enontekiö in winter, a stand-in location for Norway
Finnish Lapland offers stand-in locations with authentic Norwegian backdrops.
Photo by: Enontekiö | Tapio Huttunen