What’s your favorite Lapland season? The unending days of summer, autumn’s colorful explosion, or one of winter’s many phases? Learn more about Lapland’s many awesome seasons!
Everybody knows the traditional four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall. But not everywhere has four seasons. Some places have less, and some—like Finnish Lapland—have a few more. Because it’s unfair to compare the crisp, dark days of early winter with the warm, blinding snowy days of late winter. So we’ve put together our list of the 8 seasons of Lapland, and wouldn’t you know it? They’re all our favorite season!
1. Solstice – 1st Day of the Year
The sun rises for a few minutes on the Arctic Circle on December 22, marking the most important turning point of the year in a calendar older than humanity. The next day, a fellow named Santa leaves Rovaniemi on his journey around the world. Then the whole country erupts in fireworks in celebration of the “official” New Year’s Day only a week later. A great vantage point for this celebration are the bridges in Rovaniemi, as both shores launch fireworks over the dark river before the city lights up the sky to ring in the coming of the new year.
2. Winter Frost
The days are short in southern Lapland but still non-existent in Inari, the passage of time instead marked by the moon and the glow of Polar Night at midday. The snow comes heaviest this time of year, a barrage of white fluff that quickly blankets the land, turning innocuous pines into fantastic snow creatures. Temperatures plunge to their most extreme, making even a trip to the local supermarket an Arctic adventure. Have you ever had your eyelashes freeze together?
The late winter season can be described in two simple words: winter wonderland. This is fairy tale winter, the bright sun overhead illuminating the heavy snowfall that covers Lapland head to toe. The days are about half and half bright sun and sparkling stars. This is the best time to get in all your winter adventures: reindeer rides through Ranua forests, skiing down Levi’s slopes, ice-fishing in Nuorgam, the northernmost village in Finland.
4. Icebergs Ahoy!
All that sunlight and warmth finally penetrates the heavy snow during late spring, cracking the ice and sending it crashing down the rivers. In Pello, the Tornio River writhes and awakens, bursting from its winter slumber like the giant it is. There are no more ice roads, no snowmobile excursions across the serene frozen surface. This is the first glimpse of summer to come, and a great time to enjoy the first ice cream cone of the season.
5. Last Night (Rise of the Midnight Sun)
Sometime in mid-May, the sun dips below the horizon for the last time in months. From this moment on, there will be only 24 hours of light. Summer is no longer coming; it’s here. For Lapland, summer means the Silence Festival in Kittilä, kayaking the Bothnian Bay, mountain biking in Ylläs, exploring the ancient stony fells at Nattanen … under the Midnight Sun, everyone has more energy, more time, more life.
Ah, the blessed return of nightfall to the north. This season salutes the end of summer with cooler days and stars in the skies. This is the season for hiking the Pyhä-Luosto National Park, picking berries and mushrooms in the forests of Ruka, of seeing the faint glimmer of the Northern Lights reflected in the Muonio river.
A season that needs no nickname, no darling epithet. This is Ruska, when summer is well and truly finished. The trees begin blushing in vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow—they know they’ll soon be naked and in full view. Get your camera and head to the trees of Syöte or the lakeside city of Kemijärvi. Don’t forget to look up. This is also the best time of year to catch stunning auroras sweeping across the sky.
8. Winter’s First Kiss
The first snow of late autumn carries with it the promise of frosty days and chilly nights. The days grow shorter, the weather starker. Snowflakes often fall without warning. The longer nights mean more Northern Lights, especially in the Kilpisjärvi or Utsjoki, where they’re all but guaranteed. Christmas carols begin wriggling in people’s ears, and there can be no doubt that winter, in all her glory, is here to stay.