This winter we are following families as they head off to the slopes with their little ones. This time we head to frosty Finnish Lapland with Little Spree blogger Nicky Hornsby-Clifton, her husband Russell and their 6-year-old son Bailey. Find out more about the family’s adventures in their ski diary below…
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT SKIING AS A FAMILY?
Coming together as a family to share an experience, and on this occasion in breathtakingly beautiful surroundings.
We based ourselves in Lappish ‘Levi’ which is a Finnish fell located in the North of the Artic Circle. It’s also the largest ski resort in Finland. You can fly direct from London to Kittilä Airport (flight time 3hrs 45mins, transfer time around 15minutes). As you might imagine there’s generous snow cover during winter so all runs (of all levels) are open, including several free nursery slopes for children.
SNOOZE IN STYLE
For most of the trip we were based at the Hotel Panorama, quietly perched above the pretty town of Levi. The hotel offers ski-in-ski-out accommodation, incredible views of the mountains, the resort and beyond, but is only a couple of parallel turns (or a 2-minute gondola ride) to the busy town below.
We spent one magical night in the ‘Levin Inglut’ glass igloos at Utsuvaara (around 10km from the centre of Levi).
As well as the constantly changing landscape, you can stargaze whilst snuggled under your duvet, drinking hot chocolate (or something stronger! The igloos are fully furnished with a small but perfectly formed kitchen and bathroom). There’s also a recently opened ‘Aurora’ restaurant on site (think fine dining, in your thermals, in a glass tippee) and a cosy wooden hut where you can toast marshmallows over an open fire.
Photo Credit: Levin Iglut
On our final night in Lapland, we ate in an ice restaurant, drank in an ice bar (being careful not to melt our table with our Glögi), whizzed down and ice slide and slept on an ice bed at the Snow Village in Lainio. The village is built each year from 20 million kilogrammes of snow and 350,000 kilogrammes of natural ice. The rooms are all individually decorated with ice carvings and they’re just as cold as you imagine! The temperature in our room was -5 degrees but you’re provided with arctic survival sleeping bags so you actually stay toasty warm – they do however advise you to limit your liquid intake before you go to bed…
EAT LIKE A LOCAL
I hope you like reindeer, salmon soup or cheese sandwiches…
WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO PACK?
As Ranulph Fiennes says: “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. With an average temperature of around -8 degrees in December we took Mr Fiennes at his word and spent a lot of time researching how to stay warm: even meeting Father Christmas is miserable if you’re fingers, toes and nose are cold. On the slopes (as well as the usual gloves, balaclavas, ski socks etc) I would recommend four layers of clothing: a thermal base layer (top and leggings made from merino wool or synthetic mix, cotton tends to absorb moisture rather than wick it away from the skin), a mid layer, a light down gilet then a ski jacket/salopettes. Off the slopes, we all wore Sorel boots and they were amazingly cosy. There’s so much luggage to take on a winter holiday we decided to restrict ourselves to one pair of boots each so I wore mine whether sledging or dining in a dress.
WHAT WERE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING AND SEEING?
Catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Having chased them around like a mischievous toddler during a previous trip to Iceland (without success) I knew that even in ideal conditions (a dark, clear night with solar flares, solar wind and a whole lot of luck) they are unpredictable. On day one we woke to see little snow cloud icons next to each day of our visit so I assumed this would not be the trip to tick off that particular experience from my bucket list. Thankfully unpredictability works both ways; around 11 pm, whilst we were laid looking at the sky through our glass igloo we were treated to a spectacular light display. We sat, wide-eyed and couldn’t have been more transfixed if Santa himself had flown across the sky.
WHAT ABOUT BAILEY?
Visiting Father Christmas at the Elves Cottage in the middle of a Finnish Forest (which we almost missed having decided to navigate our way through said Finnish forest, on snowmobiles, without a guide, in the dark). Even as an adult the magical atmosphere was intoxicating, especially when Santa shared with us his secret to delivering gifts around the world in one night. We were sworn to secrecy, but if you’re interested, ask Bailey: he’s so excited by this new found knowledge he can’t keep it to himself (although he will ask you to promise not to tell anyone else…!).
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING THAT HAPPENED DURING THE TRIP?
Despite having almost the same number of lessons, Bailey has found skiing significantly easier than snowboarding. We assumed his snowboard instructor would carry on where the last one left off, teaching turn, turn turns, and that he would only stray off the nursery slopes on skis. Instead, he ignored turns and taught tricks, fun enough we thought. I have no idea why, or how (something to do with balance, or confidence) but the next day he boarded down a blue run. It was almost as amazing, and unpredicted as seeing the Northern Lights!
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING WHEN YOU AREN’T SKIING?
Moonlit reindeer rides, sledging, star gazing and playing football with Santa’s Elves.
ANY TIPS FOR FAMILIES WHO ARE TAKING THEIR LITTLE ONES SKIING FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Take the time to watch them take their first bunny hops down the slopes, it’s so very sweet but so very fleeting. Also, in Lapland, raise your eyes to the sky at night, just in case… x
With thanks to Nicky Hornsby-Clifton X