Summer in Lapland means roaming the wilderness, climbing the ancient fells, plugging your ears and throwing up your horns. If Lapland is not on your #BucketList, it should be!
The sun shines all day and all night, rolling around the horizon like a shiny gold coin. The forests are green, the fells are stony, the sky is blue and unending. Summer has come to northern Finland, and every day you’ll do, feel, see, taste and hear something you’ll never forget. Here’s our summer bucket list.
1. Arctic Roadtrip
Good friends. Rockin’ tunes. And the endless open road.
2. Catch a flick or two
Your sauna companions are a pair of young Finns who came to see their short film on the big screen, a Spanish documentary director, and an American volunteer. You’ve screened a couple films in the big tent, watched a master class in the theater downtown, and even scored a goal in the traditional football game (the American insists on calling it “soccer.”) Just as you begin thinking about where you’re going to rest your head for the night, the sauna tent flap opens, spilling in the warm, strange light of Finnish summer “nights,” and you remember … sleep is for the dead. The Midnight Sun Film Festival is for the living.
3. “Because it’s there.”
You arrive at your hotel and drop your bags. The mountain is literally right outside your door. There’s no time to waste! You check your camera battery, your water bottle, and you’re ready to go. The trail starts with duckboards and wooden stairs crossing soft ground before giving way to a stony path that winds up through the birch forest. The trees seem to grow shorter with every step, and before you know it, you’re above the treeline. Time for a sip of water and a selfie with the Scandinavian mountains in the background. #HumbleBrag
4. Get off the beaten path
The wind roars in your ears as you fly down the path. It took some effort to get the bike up the fell, the first of many on your trek through the national park, but coming down is effortless and exhilarating. Your wheels slow to a stop on the gravel path, and the sounds of the forest filter through the blood pumping in your head: singing birds, buzzing insects … and the sound of another bike coming up behind you. Before you can turn your head, something blurs by you and shouts, “Let’s go, slowpoke!“
5. Hunt for forest treasures
Halfway through your mushroom hunting tour, and you’ve already seen about a million mushrooms. Your guide points out the most common edible mushrooms, encouraging you to say the Finnish names. So far, “Happy Rows” (hapero) seem to be the most common, some lipstick red, others the color of good cheese. You can’t wait to take your brimming bucket back to your cabin. Just as your mouth begins watering, you come across what your guide calls a “tatty” (tatti) as big as your head. She encourages you to check it out but warns that when they’re that big, they’re often already a meal for forest insects. Imagine your surprise when you turn it over, and it’s untouched, pristine, and almost as heavy as your full bucket.
6. Private wine tasting
After a long day spent on the edge of the tundra, you deserve something nice. Your choices for this meal are dark and light, aromatic and mysterious, exceptional and familiar. And that’s just the wines. The dishes include meat you’ve never thought about tasting: reindeer, elk … even bear! The pairing of a Spanish merlot and a bite of bear meat is unforgettable and near indescribable. But you’ll try anyway. #EatOrBeEaten #DrinkAndBeMerry
7. Party like it’s 1849
The rules are simple. Whoever finds all the gold nuggets first wins. You stare at the top of the bucket, biting your lips in anticipation. The sand sparkles in the sun, but those aren’t the sparkles you’re interested in. As soon as you hear the bark announcing the start, you dive in. Your competition includes eager children, invested old men, laughing women. The audience and onlookers at the Tankavaara Gold Village World Gold Panning Championship cheer you on. The first nugget is small and misshapen. The second almost round as pearl. Only a few more to go and you’re the winner …
8. Rock You Like the Hurriganes
You’ve heard about summer festivals in Finland. Something about the combination of a short, intense summer and a sun that never sets just amps up the vibrations. Standing in the roaring crowd at Simerock on the shores of a wide river is no exception. There’s fireballs and laser shows, chanting and crowdsurfing, europop, punk rock, heavy metal, DJs … it doesn’t matter anymore. Everyone just throws up their horns and screams, “We want more! We want more!”