In Finnish Lapland, Christmas lasts all year, which is good news for tourists from all over the world, but also for film crews, both Finnish and foreign. If you want to make a commercial for Christmas release or a reality TV show with a seasonal theme, you need to do it well in advance. The staff manning locations in Lapland are experienced, geared up and ready to offer precisely this option.
No single location is better equipped to offer these services than the SantaPark theme park, hidden away in an expansive man-made cavern bang on the Arctic Circle. The city of Rovaniemi, the provincial capital of Finnish Lapland, is a few kilometres away, while its airport, the biggest international entry point for flights to Lapland, is a ten-minute drive from the main door. Access is therefore second to none, but the vast Arctic wilderness is also on the doorstep.
“SantaPark attracts many dozens of different productions every year,” says Ilkka Länkinen who owns and supervises the management of the attraction with his wife Katja. “They vary from short TV interviews to children’s programs, and from reality TV shows to commercials and movie scenes.”
SantaPark is full of atmospheric Christmas and Arctic features, from Santa’s Post Office to a Snowman World Ice Bar & Ice Restaurant, complete with fabulous ice sculptures.
Film Friendly and flexible
The lure of Lapland as a filming location, encouraged by the Finnish Lapland Film Commission and supported by its Film Friendly Network, grows stronger year by year. That means the kinds of experience, know-how and flexibility sought by production crews are in plentiful supply. SantaPark is a great example of how those assets are available.
“The venue is open to the public year-round, except for two months in the autumn, but available at any time for private hire and functions,” says Länkinen. “We have a road leading to direct rear access for loading and unloading equipment, and it’s possible to make access private for productions. We have restaurants on-site so we can provide location catering services, 24/7.”
Arctic TreeHouse Hotel, a SantaPark Arctic World enterprise, with its highly-rated Rakas restaurant, is a five-minute walk from the main entrance, so accommodation for crews is nearby and very comfortable. Obviously this can represent a significant cut in transport time and costs for productions. The tree house suites are luxurious cubic units with broad north-facing windows, ideal for experiencing the Northern Lights between shoots. By autumn 2018, the hotel will expand to provide overnights for up to 200 people.
Secluded and private
Another SantaPark enterprise is the Metsäkyly Arctic Forest Spa about 20 minutes drive from Rovaniemi, with 55 hectares of private, mainly forested land and roads. The Christmas theme is also explored here in a secluded setting by means, for example, of Santa’s Secret Command Center and an ‘Elf School’ – perfect locations for Christmas product commercials, where onsite catering is also an option.
SantaPark and its environs are stars in their own rights throughout the world as a result of productions made here by crews from as away as Australia, China, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
“We have offered packages to Chinese viewers of the We Are in Love reality show filmed partly in SantaPark, which had a total audience of 922 million, for example, so they can see where their favourite scenes were filmed,” says Länkinen.
“TV and media crews are especially grateful for reliable availability of electricity and WiFi at SantaPark and other premises,” says Länkinen. “We can be as flexible as anyone wants us to be, regardless of the weather or the time of the year.” This genuine promise is more impressive when you bear in mind that temperatures can regularly drop to below -20°C in the Lapland winter.