travelchristmas Compiled and written by KATJA PANTZAR Where the real Santa comes from EVERYONE IN FINLAND knows that Santa Claus is from Finnish Lapland, where he lives year round. From the North Pole, he heads out every Christmas Eve to deliver Christmas gifts around the world. You can guess which airline he uses. A new way to experience the Christmas spirit is Joulukka (joulu means Christmas in Finnish), which opened a year ago next to Lake Sieri, a 20-minute drive from Rovaniemi, the official capital of Lapland. The idyllic village of Joulukka, which is only open by special appointment to groups, allows visitors to step into a fairytale-like Christmas world and see where the Elves attend Elf School, find out the top secret ingredients of Mrs Claus's gingerbread biscuits and peek into Santa's secret command centre. Run by ProSanta Oy, a partner of the Finnish Santa Claus Foundation, Joulukka offers a range of customised programs for groups that include meals in a Lappish tepee, husky rides, snow sculpting, fishing, and cooking classes. www.joulukka.com Joulukka CIRCUS OF LIGHT Dance theatre company Hurjaruuth presents its annual "Talvisirkus Valo," (Winter Circus Light) a multilingual extravaganza that's popular with children of all ages. Seasonal fare HELSINKI'S St Thomas Christmas Market on the Esplanade runs to December 21st. www.hel2.fi/tourism Performances at Helsinki's Cable Factory to January 6th, 2009. www.hurjaruuth.fi Artist Mikko Kunttu's Season of Light work illuminates Helsinki's Senate Square every evening from New Year's Day to January 11, 2009 with music by Kimmo Pohjonen. www.hel2.fi Winter brights The Kivi candleholder designed by Heikki Orvola marks its 20th anniversary this year. Available in 22 different colours, including red 30,90 and matte white 31.50, Kivi is a Finnish design classic. Iittala's Glow oil lamp (available in white, red, black and sand/59) lights up the dark winter nights, while Marimekko's bohemian decorations (prices start at 11) add a touch of glass to the season. www.iittala.fi, www.marimekko.fi Kivi 22 BLUE WINGS DECEMBER 2008 An ancient tradition Glow Marimekko Turku is Finland's oldest city and was its first capital. It's also the country's official Christmas city, where a unique tradition has taken place since the Middle Ages: the declaration of Christmas peace on December 24th at noon from the Old Great Square. Turku, a seaport city with a population of about 175,000 people, hosts dozens of seasonal events in the lead-up to the big day. www.christmascity.com
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